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Thread: Mylar, Panda Film, reflective insulation, oh my...

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    swords's Avatar
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    Mylar, Panda Film, reflective insulation, oh my...

    I'm getting ready to build my new plant shelf and wondering what would be the best thing to use for a reflective covering?

    I've looked at Mylar which is mirror finish foil like stuff and then something called "Panda Film" which is waterproof, bright white inside and light blocking black outside. Panda Film can be cut for vent/air intake holes and have a zipper or Velcro access added so it can be made into an actual "light confining tent".

    And then there's the stuff I was originally going to use which is a metallic foil laid over bubble wrap and called "reflective insulation" which might maintain altered temps better than the other two.

    So, what do you guys use for reflectivity? Which of these three might you choose if you had the choice to make? At the moment I'm leaning to the 6 mil panda film but have any of you used it?

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    I use mylar. It works great for me. I don't need to control temps too much. If you need to control temps I would use the reflective insulation. If it is not reflective enough you can alway add mylar to it. Just my two cents.
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    I use some cheap stuff from an art supply store. It is basically just regular posterboard with a reflective silver coating. I am sure it is not as reflective as mylar... but mylar is so expensive from what I remember.
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    That 'reflective insulation' stuff sounds interesting. I've been using mylar and have like it. I have a hard time keeping it clean though, as sometimes overspray gets on it when I water my plants, and even though it's RO water eventually it really dulls it.

    But temp control is a challenge for me - so where did you see this reflective insulation?

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    I've been looking into this exact issue lately. Some things I've learned:

    Reflective insulation will not do as good a job for you as simple mylar film, black/white photography film, or even good old flat white paint (in that order). That insulation is not designed to be a surface material, and if it has a dimpled finish it will give you uneven light reflection. It will raise the temperature a great deal and will give you "hot spots" in your cabinet unless you have really good air flow. Also, as with the mylar used for "emergency blankets," party balloons, chip bags, and other things, the mylar layer is very thin and prone to wearing off quickly.

    The best material for this job appears to be the sturdier mylar sheets, which come in various thicknesses; there is even a type that's reinforced with fibers, making it very easy to work with - withstanding staple guns, glue, tacks, etc., without tearing or losing its reflective coating.

    And yes, if you go searching for this information online as I did you will find the most thorough analysis of it on sites that discuss.... other plants, shall we say?

    Edit: For cleaning mylar, use window cleaner.

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    I use my mylar on the outside of my terrarium. The RO water will not stain glass as bad and it's easier to clean! you can find the insulation at any large hardware store in with their insulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by nightsky View Post
    I have a hard time keeping it clean though, as sometimes overspray gets on it when I water my plants, and even though it's RO water eventually it really dulls it.

    But temp control is a challenge for me - so where did you see this reflective insulation?
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    for a shelf I would go with panda film I imagine it would be a lot more durable. I only really use mylar on terrariums, the glass tends to keep it clean so it doesn't get water spots like Nightsky was describing.

    If you want to be able to see in on one side you can go get clear vinyl form walmart in their fabric section. It's not folded up in squares like a shower curtain so it won't be all creased.
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    I went to target and got one of those emergency blankets for 3 bucks. Works great and it's huge!

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