Help please on setting up experiment to test insulation

  1. I'm going to be reviewing some insulated sheets for lining walls. I want to set up an experiment to rank different types of sheet by their level of insulation.

    I intend to use a digital thermometer with a probe (for example

    I have several sheets to compare, each 30x30cm. Their real world application is to insulate a room, so that the temperature reaches the desired level faster, and heat losses are minimised to the exterior.

    Any ideas of how to set up a simple experiment that has a degree of scientific validity? Many thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 15,478
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Welcome to PF;

    There are lots of ways to do this - which one depends on your constraints.
    i.e. what is stopping you from building a small container out of each material, heating the interior, and measuring the temperature changes?

    It could be better, but unless we know how you are thinking about the problem, we cannot help you.
  4. I suppose simplicity is key.

    If I apply a constant heat to one side of the material and measure the temperature on the reverse after a set time, the better insulator would have a lower figure. Would this suffice?
  5. Simon Bridge

    Simon Bridge 15,478
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    What stops the heat from going around the material?
    You will also need to be sure to start each run at the same temperature and apply the same amount of heat.
  6. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    How rigorous of a test do you need?

    I agree with the previous poster though:

    1. Build a box.
    2. Put the thermometer and a small heat source inside.
    3. Measure temperature difference at equilibrium.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?