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Question DetailsAsked on 1/31/2014

Is "smart Energy today" sol-blanket insulation a fraud?

I went to a "dinner seminar" presentation regarding "Smart Energy Today" insulation and attic fans, both of which appear to have reasonable benefits, but on-line comments about the company are uniformly negative when it comes to installer service provided. I wonder if any local experience with the corporation, based in Tumwater, Washington, is available to share? I suspect the products are about equal to double foil faced 1/8 inch foam core reflective insulation you can buy locally, but wonder about the installation service.

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13 Answers

Voted Best Answer
5
Votes

Google and read about it. Some people swear by it, though their comments sound suspiciously like they were all written by the same person. Some call it a rip off - expecially people paying $6000-8000 for what would normally be a $1,000 range job.

I would not call it an outright fraud as they are providing a product that has some potential merit in the right application, but from a technical standpoint it sounds suspicious. They claim a 1/4 mat with doiuble sided foil facing is R-16 insulation. This at least is deceptive - they appear to be saying its radiant heat reflective properties give the equivalent of R-16 insulation, because there is NO WAY 1/4" foam is going to yield R-16 in an ASTM test for insulation, which is a thermal conductivity test. Would be lucky to get R-2 or so as an insulator, so this is basically a radiant barrier. Competing products from national brandname manufacturers list R value of 3.8-4.2 for one inch mats, so the equivalent for this 1/4" mat would be expected to be in the R1 range.

Properly installed, with ventilation on BOTH sides, it can be slightly effective in reducing radiant heat loss from the house, and more effective in reflecting heat in the attic from coming down into the house. However, from a thermodynamic and vapor control standpoint, they are trouble unless their integration into the house envelope is designed VERY carefully. Short explanation:

1) for keeping heat in the house, if they are installed above the attic floor insulation they can slightly limit air loss through the ceiling, and reflect radiant heat back down, resulting in warmer insulation, hence a warmer ceiling - but not as marked an improvement as added insulation would give.

2) for keeping attic heat from getting into the ceiling, they do reflect back a good portion of the radiant heat coming from the roof sheathing. This reduces the attic floor insulation surface temperature, so can reduce air conditioning cost. it does increase teh temperature in the attic, which can be very bad for support timbers and the roof sheathing.

3) the worst thing about how this type of foil radiant barrier is used is that, unless it has free air space on both sides, it acts as a vapor barrier. In the typicall application as a blanket over attic floor insulation, it traps any moisture coming up from the house, and can cause mildew and rot, especially in climates where the outdoor temperature gets quite cold.

4) the attic fans are generally a last resort measure - the normal house does much better, at no energy cost, using ridge vents with adequate eave openings to provide ventilation and cooling in the attic.

5) their effectiveness in winter heat diminshes rapidly with time - tests of attic radiant barriers show they lose about half their effectvieness within 5 years, because even a light dust coating greatly reduces their ability to reflect radiant heat, and greatly increases the absorption of heat from the hot air above them.

6) pay attention to cost - from what I see, their installed cost is many times the cost of normal insualtion or radiant barrier placement.

I would say, in summary, buyer beware, and I would be inherently leery of a product being sold the same way timeshares and "secret" moneymaking schemes are.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

1
Vote

Wouldn't bother with it.


Depending on your attic, there are more proven applications and they are usually the standards that are out there.

Answered 4 years ago by WoWHomeSolutions

-3
Votes

I am going to guess that it is a bunch of smoke and mirrors in this case.

Answered 4 years ago by Davidhughes

5
Votes

If you go the Better Business Bureau website you can see that the company has only had two complaints in the last 18 months and that they have both been resolved. The company has an A+ rating. This is not something you can buy.


There are genuine reviews on many 3rd party online review sites including AngiesList and the Better Business Bureau. Simply do a Google search for "Smart Energy Today Reviews".


Sol Blanket Insulation acts as a radiant barrier, insulation and a vapor barrier. It is not intended to replace traditional insulation but in fact compliments it and adds to it's ability to keep cool/hot air (depending on the season) in the home when the envelope of the home is properly sealed.


Every attic is different and there are many other components that must be considered. You mentioned an attic fan as well. The heat that is radiated away from the ceiling by the Sol-Blanket Insulation is pushed out of the attic with an attic fan. The US Department of Energy states that radiant barriers do work and suggest they be installed by professionals.


As with any product by any company if the product is not installed properly and other factors (attic fan, caulking and sealing, etc...) are not addressed then it will not be as effective.

Source: http://energy.gov/energysaver/article..., http://web.ornl.gov/sci/ees/etsd/btri..., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiant_...

Answered 3 years ago by SmartEnergyToday

0
Votes

Looking at solar tubes for brightening the kitchen, solar powered attic and crawl space fans, and the blanket for attic. They have a lot more product now. Will report findings. Have two previous homes that ridge vent was great for summer, but a lot of heat loss for winter.

Answered 3 years ago by Guest_97013001

4
Votes

Always get competitive bids.

The price they offered me was literally 10 1/2 times higher than the next bid.

Answered 3 years ago by anpeng

1
Vote

We could not be happier with the solar blanket insulation and solar fan. Jeremiah and his crew were prompt, professional and respectful of our belongings. I was very skeptical but so glad my wife prompted me into ordering. Our attic was unbearable in the summer, reaching over 100 degrees. The results were instant and the product is better than advertised at the dinner presentations. We were never pressured to make a decision "right now". This is a great product and we recommend it and Smart Energy without hesitation.

Dave & Marlene, Vancouver, WA

Answered 2 years ago by Dave123

2
Votes

I interviewed there. Slimy sales tactics. Same shady people, the Gibbs couple. Jonathon is a snake-oil salesman. DO NOT BUY FROM THEM. YOU ARE LITERALLY RIPPING YOURSELF OFF.

Answered 2 years ago by jonathongibbs

-1
Votes

In response to the BBB reply (by Smart Energy Today), this rating is indeed bought and paid for. I am a business owner myself and "bought" my membership to BBB for many years. The only time negative compaints are filed against the company are when the consumer requests reimbursement. If it's only a complaint then it's not listed. How do I know this?...I filed a complaint about a local company due to it's vulgar and extremely unprofessional customer relations. There was no reimbursement to request...only to notify the public through BBB but they (BBB) did not care. Why?....I presume many companies would not continue to "purchase" their memberships if their ratings were low. I in fact never had a complaint against my company so my true rating of A+ was beneficial but after realizing how their system worked I refused to "purchase" a rating I didn't need.


Now, as far as Smart Energy Today....I too researched them and found them to be very suspect in their promotions, advertisements and services. It's a gimmick.


If you go the Better Business Bureau website you can see that the company has only had two complaints in the last 18 months and that they have both been resolved. The company has an A+ rating. This is not something you can buy.

Answered 2 years ago by MWM

1
Vote

I purchased the blanket. The people that installed it were very good, as was the sales person. I have had it in for a year and have not notice any difference in the summer for reducing heat in the house and have not noticed any difference in the winter for improving my heating bill. I would not purchase it again, I would use the $$$ for other improvements like windows, which I still need.

Answered 1 year ago by barhoads

0
Votes

I attended one of their dinners and even invited them to my home for a solar quote. I'm an old-timer in this, having studied this very subject back during the energy crisis in the 1970s. I've gone on over the years to build and remodel some very energy-efficient homes (current house is 7000 sq ft + that the gas company has listed as using the equivalent of a 2700 sq ft house.


To answer the question, this is a very legit product. Two very important items. The absolute best use would be in new construction or a remodel with the shettrock removed. They have a non-perforated kind that would be perfect as a combination vapor barrier and thermal barrier that runs over the wooden studs and ceiling joists. The best way to stop heat transfer is as soon as possible, which is before it hits the wood. Wood is a very good connductor of heat, and in lab tests you can easily see the heat move along the sheetrock over to the studs and exit the building, or vice-versa in the summer. Stop the heat before it gets to the wood.


But you can't always do that. So their idea is to punch tiny holes to let moisture through, but they are small enough you will only get minimal heat loss because of them. That can be set on top of fiberglass or blown cellulose in your attic. I love radiant barriers like this. The more reflective the more the will reflect heat (this applies to radiant energy and not conductive). The one drawback in an attic is that they will get dirty and dusty over the years, and that will reduce their efficiency. A solution is to just go up every few years and use compressed air or something similar and just blow them off.


I like that the center is a closed-cell foam, but I'mm not as thrilled with the reflective faces being aluminum. NASA developed mylar as a reflective heat shield for space travel. Its added benefit is that it can serve as a fire barrier, and I have it installed on my home under the boards on the porch ceiling for that very purpose. I would much prefer seeing them use mylar for the facing. That said, I still am interested in using their product in an upcoming build.


The previously mentioned option of placing it behind the sheetrock would be ideal in this situation (sunporch with lots of solar heat gain). It appears they have to install it, which would be a downside since I am very picky and like to do my own installs. The alternative that creates remarkable comfort, at a price, is spray foam. I live in an area with repeated high-wind storms, and my home done completely with foam stays so calm and comfortable, even with a howling winter storm outside. I did need to install a heat exchanger to bring in fresh air, since foam makes for a very tight home.


But to make a long story short, I just looked again at this product today, and it is very legitimate and an intriguing possibility.

Answered 1 year ago by ThomasW

0
Votes

We just had the sol-blanket insulation installed by Smart Energy, so we haven't had time to evaluate its effectiveness in our home as winter approaches. However, we will be getting 2017 Federal Tax Credits for energy efficiency for the insulation and solar powered attic fan. The government deems this kind of insulation as effective.


Last year, we had our attics layered with more blown-in batting insulation, bringing the insulation up to R-49, and we had a ductless heat pump installed. We got tax credits for that, and the Energy Trust of Oregon sent us checks to partly pay for the upgrades. It seems our state and federal governments are encouraging the installation of such reflective barriers.


One of the things that convinced us of the sol-blanket's effectiveness was the demonstration of two chambers filled with insulation batting covering a heat sensor/transmitter. Each chamber had a heat lamp installed above the batting. One chamber had a square of sol-blanket placed above the batting. The other chamber had only the insulation batting. After a few minutes the temperatures of the two chambers were compared. The chamber without the sol-blanket was much hotter than the chamber with the blanket. The heat had soaked through or saturated the batting with heat, allowing the lower part of the chamber with the temperature sensor to become heated.


The sol-blanket was removed from the cool chamber and placed over the batting of the hot chamber. The chambers were allow to bask in the heat lamps until the receiver started emitting a warning that the temperature in the formerly cool chamber had reached about 168°F. The temperature in the formerly hot chamber had fallen into the 80s.


At this point, either the test was bogus and the receiver temperature had been manipulated, or else the sol-blanket's effectiveness was true. To be a truly scientific study, much more testing would have to be done to control all variables. If there had been no shenanigans and the demonstration was honest, that was an excellent demonstration of the blanket's effectiveness as a heat barrier. It blocks heat rather than absorbs heat as insulation batting does.


At least one person made comments about the thinness of the foam between the two reflective surfaces. That thin layer of foam appears to act as a separator between the two sheets of reflective aluminum, and probably helps protect the material from tearing during installation.


I looked on Amazon for similar products. One product had pictures of it being installed in attics. The insulation value was based on its ability to reflect heat, and the manufacturers claimed their product blocked 94-96% of radiant heat and reduced condensation. "RadiantGUARD SINGLE Bubble Reflective Aluminum" claims to block 94% of radiant heat. That's the kind of heat that comes through a house's roof or is radiated out of a heated home. R values make no sense in this context. No batting or foam insulation can block heat tranfer that well--that kind of insulation is more like a sponge, but it also provides a barrier to free air movement. Air can move through the batting but more slowly than through an open window.


Since Smart Energy's sol-blanket is a reflective barrier and blocks at least 94% of radiant heat, it is a superior insulator.

Answered 6 months ago by JonCovey

2
Votes

We had the sol-blanket installed in our home four years ago. the house is now fifteen years old and we had no moisture problems untill after the blanket was installed. The attic area has plenty of ventilation but this winter we noticed a large crack in our LR ceiling and screw holes pulling out, checked it out and found ceiling drywall was wet. Went up in attic area and felt under the blanket...wet and ice on bottom side. Contacted company and got nowhere. I have removed the product and hope fiberglass insulation will dry out, if not will have the expense of having it removed and new insatlled. Contacted the better business burea and two days later received a very bitter ranting call from the company...nice!!

Answered 4 months ago by keppy

0
Votes

The blankets they laid over our fluff insulation may help a little but probably not worth the cost. We also had them install solar powered attic vent fans at each end of roof. It was fairly cloudy for quite a while (live near Seattle) so forgot about them. As spring came, I called the UFO hunters from the TV program because we had a flying saucer hovering above our house with a cloking device. They came out and determined that it was the vent fans whurring away in the sun shine. I'm 72 years old, so I don't have but a few years before my hearing goes and they won't bother me any more. It would be nice if they had an "off" switch.

Answered 2 months ago by jackgrill




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