Structural insulated panels (SIPs) are high-performance insulating panels used to construct walls, ceilings, and floors for residential and light commercial properties. They are a type of composite sandwich panel system that forms an insulating core.
Each panel has multiple layers that combine to resist heat transfer efficiently. SIPs provide extreme durability, strength, and energy efficiency compared to traditional insulation methods.
Features of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
SIPs take the form of an insulating core or layer sandwiched between two structural facings, as shown in Figure-1. Usually, this insulating core can be a closed-cell polyurethane foam or expanded polystyrene (EPS). Oriented strand boards (OSB) are the commonly used structural facings as they comply with the British Standard BS EN 300 for structural integrity. Other than OSB, cement, metals, engineered woods, magnesium oxide board, and cement are also used as a structural material.
SIPs are manufactured in various dimensions and thicknesses, ranging between 4 and 8 inches. They are manufactured in a factory and can be installed quickly as soon as they are delivered on site. Based on the specifications of the project, SIPs can be customized and manufactured.
For walls, SIP is manufactured with a maximum length of up to 7.5 m, and for floors, it can reach up to 4 m.
Types of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
Based on the insulating material used for manufacturing, there are mainly three types of SIPs:
- Expanded polystyrene insulated panels
- Polyurethane insulated panels
- Compressed straw-core insulated panels
1. Expanded Polystyrene SIPs
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a foam board insulation widely used in the manufacturing of SIPs. It is a type of closed-cell insulation manufactured by expanding a small bead of polystyrene polymer using steam. These beads, during the process, convert into the form of large insulation blocks of varying densities that are later cut into the required shapes and sizes.
These SIPs offer an R-value of R-4 to R-5 per inch of thickness. This value can go as high as 13.8. EPS panels are available in the market ranging between 4 to 24 feet in width.
2. Polyurethane Insulated Panels
Polyurethane or polyisocyanurate-insulated panels provide a nominal R-value of around R-6 to R-7 per inch of the thickness. These insulated panels are manufactured at a thickness of 3.5 inches for walls and 7.5 inches for ceilings. Polyurethane panels are expensive compared to EPS but offer higher water and fire resistance and higher R-value.
3. Compressed Straw-Core Insulated Panels
Compressed straw-core insulated panels are “green building materials” manufactured using renewable and recycled waste agricultural straw, unlike other panel materials. Even though they are environmentally friendly, they offer a small range of R-value compared to other types of SIPs.
Applications of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
- SIPs are used for commercial buildings that can have higher temperature levels due to the presence of machines and equipment. These panels provide efficient control of indoor temperature during these conditions.
- SIPs provide the necessary temperature for the storage of medicines and medical items, especially in pharmacies. These panels are used for refrigerated trucks for transporting drugs and medical items that are temperature-sensitive.
- SIPs are used for large-scale cooling purposes for coating the refrigerators and walk-in freezers to maintain the needful temperature. Hospitals, schools, restaurants, camps, etc., use these facilities.
- SIPs are used in warehouses to maintain interior cold temperatures. It is suitable for warehouses that store food items, electronic products, and other temperature-sensitive items.
Benefits of Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)
The key benefits of building with SIPs are:
- Provide healthier air quality
- Highly energy-efficient
- High design flexibility
- Provide high strength and thermal performance
- Fast fabrication and installation
- Use less energy
- Reduce waste
Structural insulated panels are high-performance insulating panels used to construct walls, ceilings, and floors for residential and light commercial construction. They are a type of composite sandwich panel system that forms an insulating core.
SIPs take the form of an insulating core or layer sandwiched between two structural facings. Usually, this insulating core can be a closed-cell polyurethane foam or expanded polystyrene (EPS). Oriented strand boards (OSB) are the commonly used structural facings as they comply with the British Standard BS EN 300 for structural integrity.
Based on the insulating material used for the manufacturing, there are mainly three types of SIPs:
1. Expanded polystyrene insulated panels
2. Polyurethane insulated panels
3. Compressed straw-core insulated panels