What’s the Value of R-Value?
This blog is a little more technical than some of our other pieces, so here’s the 3-line summary: R-value is a unit of measurement used to determine how well insulated something is. Higher values are better. Insulating your existing garage door or installing a new insulated door can save you money in the long run by cutting your AC and Gas bills.
Everyone uses their garage for storage, but would you store your possessions outside? If you left your power tools outside during the cold winter months, wouldn’t you worry about their batteries? In the summer, wouldn’t you worry about your rubber hoses or tires dry-rotting in the heat, or the glue holding your old furniture together melting? If your garage isn’t properly insulated, you may be risking problems just like these without even knowing it, and that’s why every homeowner should understand the R-value of their insulation and their garage door.
You may have heard of R-value before, or seen mention of it on our own website’s product pages. R-value is a common measure for how effectively insulation functions. It is not a perfect way to evaluate insulation, but provides a good baseline for comparing the efficacy of different products.
Insulation with a higher R-value conducts less heat. There are other ways for temperature change to affect your home, like air infiltration and radiation, which R-value does not measure. In addition, because of how heat behaves, the thermal resistance of a product will vary based on the temperature. Most products are evaluated at an even 70 F, but in real-world settings your R-value will vary slightly from the listed amount. This is perfectly normal and does not represent a problem because the relative ratios between products are still useful for choosing your insulation.
If your garage is poorly insulated, you could be losing money keeping it climate controlled or risking damage to your possessions. In the sweltering summer heat, your garage will function like a metal oven and radiate heat inside. If you spend much time in your garage, tinkering, weightlifting, or playing with your kids, you may want to insulate your garage just for your comfort. To save yourself time and money, ask about the R-value of your garage door before you purchase it, or if you already have a door installed, see if your R-value is high enough for how you use your garage.
Depending on where you live, you might want a door designed specifically for cold or heat Different types of insulation perform better at keeping heat out or in, although many garage doors that come with insulation already built-in are designed to function equally well in both extremes. Some doors are more specialized, but if you’ve contacted a reputable garage door company to install your door upgrade, they will be able to help you find the perfect door for your local climate.
Budget-conscious consumers might want to add insulation to their door after it is installed. Adding insulation to your door can provide a huge benefit, but must be done carefully or else it will do more harm than good. Make sure that you are using insulation appropriate for your area and that you are installing it properly. Not all insulation is as simple as spraying something onto your door or gluing panels into place, and if insulation is installed improperly then it will not provide the full benefit. There are many guides online teaching you how to install the different types of after-market insulation.
The other primary problem with adding insulation to your door is that your door opener system is specifically calibrated for the weight of your door, and so adding even a small weight of insulation will cause your spring to wear out more rapidly. A professional can adjust the tension of your spring, which will extend the life of your door opener and prevent it from wearing down or breaking under the increased weight.
Another option, especially if you live in a particularly harsh climate, it a specialized door designed for your conditions, such as the Clopay Model 3730. The 3730 is an award winning cold-weather commercial door with an R-value of 22.2. The 3730 is perfect for cold storage facilities, among other things, because it uses the traditional sandwich design with three panels instead of the typical two. This leads to a door that is a heavy-duty three inches thick, with a 27 gauge exterior skin and a 28 gauge interior skin. The result is a durable and dependable energy-saving addition to any business with a cold-storage facility or a company building in a cold climate.
Similarly, if you want to save on your air conditioning bill and live in a warmer area, your door can be insulated against heat. Polyurethane and polystyrene insulation are typical choices and work by trapping a layer of stationary air within the door’s sandwich construction. Air is not very thermally conductive, so homeowners who insulate their metal doors, especially if your door faces east or west, will see a considerable change in the interior temperature of your home. If rooms near or above your garage are consistently hotter than other rooms in your home, an insulated door may be a cheaper long-term solution than rerouting ductwork or installing a separate cooling system.
There is another, more rarely mentioned, benefit to insulating your garage door – sound insulation! If your garage faces a noisy street or noisy neighbors, you’ve probably heard the racket while in your garage. And if you can hear them, they can hear you talking about the trip you’re about to leave on or the code for your garage door’s keypad. Sound insulation is both a quality of life improvement for people who spend time in the garage and, in rare cases, a security measure.
For those of you still with us, congratulations! You now know enough about R-value and garage door insulation to make an informed decision about whether or not you should try to insulate your door, and if you do insulate it, hopefully you’ll be better equipped to make the right choice for your home. Remember, if you add insulation to your own door, the added weight will stress your motor and cause your door opener to wear out more quickly. Only a professional technician should be trusted to adjust your tension spring to compensate for the weight.