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What is R-Value & How Important is it for Refrigeration Shopping?

R-Value and Refrigeration Shopping

R-value is a term used to identify the insulation power of a coating or a machine. While you might encounter the mention of it in architecture-related fields and building heating systems, they are also used to define the strength of refrigeration products in terms of insulation. The R-Value you need could change depending on the climate you are in the intensity of work, and the items you wish to store in your refrigerator.

What is R-Value?

R-value is defined as the resistance of a product or a surface to heat flow. There are R-value calculators to calculate this value, but you can simply divide the insulation thickness (in inches) by the thermal conductivity of the insulation. Though, it is not very likely that you will need this formula since most brands will provide you with this value on their sales page. Just keep in mind that in most cases higher the R-value better the insulation.

This measure of thermal resistance is quite significant in determining the quality of insulation. If your refrigeration products, such as refrigerators and freezers, have a good R-value, you will have more control over the heat in your facilities and be more energy-efficient. This energy efficiency will indeed reflect on your bills and the longevity of your machine. So make sure to pay attention to the R-value of the refrigeration products you purchase for your business. 

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Refrigeration Insulation R-Values

The standard commercial refrigeration R-Value is considered to be around 25. Since it determines the effectiveness of your insulation, you want to purchase a product with a higher R-value than 25 if you store things in a freezer. If you look at household refrigerators, the standard will be significantly lower, around 12.

However, the most significant purchase for most businesses is walk-in freezers. Coated with insulation on the floor and the walls, walk-in units must have high R-values. Insulation R-30 is critical because the standard insulation value for a walk-in cooler or a freezer should be at least 30 and preferably higher. Insulation covers the entire structure of walk-ins, which is their primary function, so a malfunction in the insulation or low R-value will cause your walk-in unit to have a shorter lifespan.  

The Types of Insulation and Their Relation to R-value in Terms of Temperature

The types of insulation affect the operation of your machine. There are two main types of insulation you can find in refrigeration products alongside some fairly new types of insulation. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.

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  • Polyurethane is a common type of insulation. While it performs pretty well in high-temperature areas, machines with this type of insulation have been discovered to perform poorly once the temperatures fall.
  • Polystyrene, on the other hand, is a newer type of insulation. They are used in machines and environments that require higher R-values, and they work pretty well in colder temperatures, unlike their polyurethane counterparts.

Moisture’s Effect on R-value and Insulation in General

Moisture is a major consideration in the construction of insulation. Since refrigeration products are expected to trap moisture, the R-value must be high. Water is known to reduce the R-value of insulations due to the temperature difference between the outside of the machine and the interior. So make sure to go with higher effective insulations or materials that can protect their structure when faced with a lot of moisture. Polystyrene insulations usually test better in terms of moisture resistance, so you can consider them if you believe moisture will be a significant issue. 

Climate Zones and R-Values

Climate control is an essential feature of insulations. You will see that the necessary R-value changes throughout different locations since they possess different climates and thus different temperatures. Most energy conservation codes in the US will give you a general idea of the requirements of the location you are living in and the R-value needed for that area. By taking your climate facts into consideration, you can achieve better energy efficiency and save more on your energy bills.

R-Value Rule

The R-Value rule is issued by FTC to ensure customers aren’t misled about insulation values and efficiencies. Since advertisement agencies might use flowery language to describe the products, customers might get the wrong idea about the actual features of the refrigerators they intend to buy. Thanks to this rule, brands are obligated to provide factual information about insulation efficiency before the purchase is completed. Make sure to read the fact sheets of the machines you wish to buy before finalizing your decision.

Decreasing of R-Value

R-value can change over time. Since it is a value inherently dependent on the insulation material’s thickness and weight, the wear and tear over time will eventually decrease the effectiveness of your insulation. While you can safely assume that there won’t be much change in a five-year period, you should do inspections to ensure all is well. Depending on the quality of the material and the external factors, your R-value’s longevity can be significantly better. Moisture and air are some of the main dangers to the material. Since the foam is used to insulate most walk-ins and refrigeration products, it’s important that the gaps in the foam don’t end up with air or moisture in them. 


R-value is the factual data that can guide you properly in your refrigeration shopping. Giving you the necessary information about the insulation of the products you have your eye on, this value can ease the process of finding the right products and narrow down your options. When you take all the details into consideration, such as temperature, external climate, and moisture, you will quickly determine the R-value most suited to your locations and business.

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