How Does Wrong Insulation Affect Coolrooms and Freezers?

20 May 2015

A number of environmental factors are known to affect large-scale insulation strategies. So, how does wrong insulation affect coolrooms and freezers? There’s that single glaring consideration, the image of lost energy due to thermal leakage. The wrong type of panel has been installed, and it’s either too thin or built from substandard materials that aren’t designed to maintain the climate set by a cooling thermostat. This lack of protection causes a subsequent rise in your electrical bill to offset the losses, leading to an inefficient setup. An energy audit will illustrate this activity along an axis of time, showing transient spikes of lost energy and the resultant costs incurred by this feeble configuration. Thicker insulation panels made from modern composites are adept at resolving this undesirable scenario, especially injected polystyrene, foam polyurethane, and other composites that blend space-age plastic and glass.

The above example is the initial consideration all businesses question when a coolroom or freezer is first installed, simply because all commercial facilities are profit-oriented as they should be. In other words, a business doesn’t want to see profits floating through an aluminium wall in the form of lost energy. While a valid point, there are other cases in which the type of insulation can cost a business hard-earned cash. For example, do opt for a space-age cyanurate foam with 3 inches of thermal protection, but think twice about installing a comparable fibreglass solution because fibreglass draws moisture and can easily become the home for a colony of mould. Since freezers are full of frozen water, this panel configuration could be a recipe for disaster. Again, it’s the duty of the cooling engineer to account for this scenario, a practice that involves the assessment of ‘dew point’ properties and the ‘R-value of the chosen insulator.

Use hydrophobic materials to avoid mould and mildew during a defrost cycle. Waterlogged insulation is unhygienic and apt to bloat and sag, thus damaging the finely sealed joints that keep the freezer chamber enclosed. Thankfully, insulation science has evolved fast due to advances in thermal isolation technology. Modern laminated panels now incorporate injected or extruded plastics that deliver high R values, which, for those not indoctrinated in the ways of cooling technology, shows the resistance of a material to heat loss. Superior to fibreglass insulation in every way, modern plastics don’t absorb water. Fibreglass, on the other hand, can soak up moisture, which leads to the formation of bacteria.

In not addressing insulating issues with due diligence, business owners run the risk of selecting a material that’s unsuitable for the required application. If the inner environment is moist, avoid fibreglass and other non-hydrophobic substitutes. This simple act will eliminate the possibility of mildew. Also, consider the overall mechanical strength of the chosen insulating panel. A metal backing has its own role to play, that of providing a corrosion-free exterior and rigid reinforcement characteristics that bolster the overall structure of the coolroom or freezer. Always talk to your cooling professional and match the insulation to the contents of the room and the required cooling temperature.

Mark Connelly
C&M Coolroom Services
Mobile: 0412 536 315

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