In areas where frost threatens garden plants and weather is unpredictable, you can find yourself wondering what you can do to protect the garden from severe weather. Typically frost appears overnight, when temperatures drop to their lowest on a given day. The best way to protect plants from frost is to cover them so you can prevent moisture from freezing on their leaves and on the ground where their roots are buried.
There are two types of frost: advection and radiation. Advection frosts (also called wind frosts) are when a cold front comes in with high winds and thick clouds. However, a more common frost, usually the first frost of the season, is a radiation frost. These frosts are different from advection frosts because they form under clear skies and calm winds.
While sheets and quilts can be used as frost blankets for plants, they are unsightly and hard to keep dry. Ideally you would use a material that breathes and still allows for maximum drying potential. Also, you want to use a material that is strong and can help retain some of the stored heat in the ground from the sun. This is why a radiant barrier can be a good choice for a frost blanket.
During the day, the sun shines down on the plants and they, along with the ground, absorb that radiant heat and store it. However, once the sun goes down and temperatures begin to drop, the heat leaves the ground and creates a hostile environment for the plants. By adding a radiant barrier before dusk, you not only help retain heat in the soil, but you also protect the plants from exposure to the cold air that can create frost on the plants. AtticFoil® will not allow the heat to escape past the foil layer, so your plants have a better chance against the cold. If you have left over foil from an install, use that - there is hardly any waste with radiant barrier foil; there are so many uses for it that you can always put extra foil to use for you!
We had the privilege to work with CBS Sports as they provided media coverage for the 2011 PGA Tour in St. Johns, Georgia. They introduced us to a creative use for radiant barrier: using the technology to keep their media equipment trucks and vans cooler!
They lined the tops of the vans, trucks, carts, and trailers with the radiant barrier and the foil worked to keep the equipment cooler in the daytime sun, protecting your equipment from radiant heat build up.
Since it was a temporary use of the product, the foil was taped to the tops of the vehicles so it would stay in place. You could also use ties to strap it down, if you didn't want to mess with sticky adhesives.
Even though CBS used AtticFoil® as a temporary solution, it could be used in a more permanent way by affixing the foil to the roofs of the vehicles similarly to how you would attach foil radiant barrier to a flat roof. Or, you could install the radiant barrier inside the vans and trucks, under the roof. In golf carts this is easy to do since the roof opens up to air below, and the same is true for trailers and vans. The hardest part of the installation is securing the foil to the ceiling. Again, you can use a high temperature rated adhesive, like Liquid Nails, or you can even mess with using magnetic strips or Velcro. Once you attach the foil to the surface (whether it is on the outside or the inside) just make sure one side of the radiant barrier is facing open air. This is required for any radiant barrier. Once you know the simple basics of how a radiant barrier works, the possibilities of use are endless!
Even though the use of AtticFoil® radiant barrier isn't typically in outdoor applications where the foil is exposed to the natural elements, it can be used that way.
We have seen this done on structures that have flat roofs where they place the radiant barrier over the flat roof in order to reflect the heat off the building or home.
Another similar application was during the 2011 PGA Tour in Georgia where the media trucks lined the tops of their trucks/golf carts with AtticFoil® radiant barrier to keep the equipment under the foil cooler.
In the photo to the right, AtticFoil® was used to wrap black plastic odor scrubber tanks that were 10 feet in diameter and 7 feet high and exposed to sunlight almost all day.
The tanks were wrapped with the 48" wide standard radiant barrier foil and aluminum foil tape was used to secure both the horizontal and vertical seems; special care was made not to get the tape on the tanks. Later they went back and secured the top edge of the foil with nylong strapping around the tanks, to guard against rain and wind repositioning the foil. This method works because the foil is open to the outside air so it's able to reflect the sunlight off the tanks (which are normally black and absorb heat well). AtticFoil® was chosen for this project because of its durability and other products that use bubbles or fiberglass would not stand up well against the elements outside over time.
Even though these applications are not the everyday use we see for AtticFoil®, these customers can easily get at least a couple of years use out of the foil this way, maybe even longer!
Other Possible Outdoor Uses for Radiant Barrier
Do you have an outdoor project you are considering using radiant barrier foil for? If so, let us know and we'd be glad to help you decide it radiant barrier is the right choice, or if something else would suite you better. In these cases, the foil worked great and the customers are very happy with the results!
Question: We have flat, concrete roofs here in Central America on our homes and shopping centers. Would laying AtticFoil® directly on the roof of these buildings be effective in reducing the heat absorbed by the roof and radiating into the structure below?
Roof systems on commercial buildings (or flat roofed residences) are usually quite different from most residential roofs. They are usually flat, with metal or concrete components, versus standard wood. Because of this, commercial buildings and homes with flat roofs often have poor insulation and uncomfortable living/working spaces.
Although this is not a typical use for AtticFoil®, it would work great! It would be best to create a system that will keep the foil a couple of inches above the concrete (on the outside/exterior of the structure).
One way to do this would be to lay out some bricks or boards to create a raised platform, and then attach the foil to that platform.
We recommend taking the whole roll of foil and drilling a few 1/2" holes all the way through into the core. This will create a "Swiss cheese" effect which will give more drainage holes and prevent pooling and sagging of the foil. This keeps the foil from coming into direct contact with the concrete, so it is up and away from the roof where water could collect. This is important to do because of two reasons. First, if you allow water to pool and collect on the foil's surface, then over time this will cause the foil to get dirty and loose some of it's effectiveness. Secondly, because of the pH of concrete, you do not want to have direct with the foil and the concrete since it can cause oxidation of the aluminum over time.
Overall it will work great and we have had customers do things like this on commercial buildings and residences/mobile homes with flat roofs. It's not exactly the intended use of AtticFoil®, but from experience of testing and other customers, we would estimate you could get at 2-3 years (or more) of service from the radiant barrier.