Everything You Need to Know About Cold Storage Insulation

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When it comes to food, medicine or other temperature-sensitive products, having reliable cold storage solutions is an integral part of the logistics chain. The quality and integrity of each product depends on being stored and transported at the correct temperatures.

Understanding how to insulate and maintain temperatures in a cold storage building requires a careful selection process for building materials. Let’s review the most important aspects of cold storage insulation and what you need to know to choose the right type of insulation.

What Does “Cold Storage” Mean?

When dealing with a large number of products, businesses often use a warehouse company to help provide cold storage solutions. While these warehouses may look like a standard building from the outside, they are fully insulated to house and protect refrigerated or frozen items as they make their way through the supply chain, awaiting their transport.

Overall, cold storage facilities must have insulated floors and outer walls, and the roofing should be much thicker than normal to provide additional insulation. For example, Americold has an extensive network of temperature-controlled warehouses. Their chain of cold storage warehouses is vital to many supply chains as it connects food producers, processors, distributors and retailers to both domestic and international consumers.

Americold uses the highest quality, thick rigid insulation to ensure their facilities maintain the right temperatures for their products. Let’s take a closer look at what cold storage facilities like Americold need to keep their inventory at the right temperatures.

Does Insulation Quality Impact a Building’s Temperature?

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Cold storage insulation should contain higher-quality materials that are designed to work effectively in all climates. This is especially important in the warmer seasons and in hotter climates because thicker insulation will help stabilize the inside air-conditioned temperatures.

It’s also important to note that the bigger the building, the more sensitive it will be to temperature changes and fluctuations. On average, unless the products need to be frozen, most facilities keep their temperatures between 32˚ and 38˚F — though some could even be cooled up to 55˚F, depending on the product. Temperatures are usually closely monitored to ensure there are no changes, as an industry’s regulatory requirements and product safety regulations might enforce certain standards and protocols.

High-quality insulation in walls, floors and ceilings is needed to limit outdoor exposure and optimize the cooling process. When a facility isn’t properly insulated, it means more costs involved to keep the building cooled because of poor energy efficiency.

Why Do Cold Storage Buildings Need Thicker Wall Insulation?

Ideally, thicker wall insulation will have the higher R-value needed to protect products and keep them at their desired temperatures. The ability to prevent the transfer of heat (R-value) is one of the biggest benefits of any insulation product. High-quality, continuous insulation will have a high, long-term R-value that will help protect your building.

What Type of Flooring Is Best for Cold Storage?

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Below-grade insulation is a vital component of a building’s envelope that helps it achieve a high level of energy efficiency. When it comes to floor slabs and insulation, thickness and strength are very important. A portion of a building’s temperature loss is attributed to the perimeters and the concrete flooring.

Depending on the facility’s location and needs, cold storage concrete slabs are insulated between R-18 and R-30. Imagine building a cold storage warehouse like you would a hockey rink. That is the level of strength and insulation you want to ensure the highest level of performance. This requires architectural grade rigid insulation with high R-values and high compressive strengths.

What Type of Roofing Is Most Ideal?

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Once again, high R-value rigid board insulation will help ensure that your temperatures remain stable. Any mechanical curbs, roof hatches, parapets and roof edges should also be appropriately insulated and air sealed.

For example, if the facility needs to maintain an interior temperature range of 32˚ to 55˚F, the minimum R-value for the roof insulation should be 30. If the building contains holding freezers with a temperature range of -20˚ to 25˚F, a minimum R-value of 45 is needed.

Atlas ThermalStar® — The Best Choice for Cold Storage Insulation

When it comes to below-grade, wall and roof insulation, ThermalStar® Insulation has a stable, long-term R-value that does not depreciate over time and will consistently protect your structure for years to come. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty for physical and thermal performance.

Click here to learn more about ThermalStar® Insulation and see how our rigid insulation products are ideal for your next cold storage project. Contact an Atlas Molded Products expert to talk about your specific climate zone requirements.