Material Specifications 

Material specifications for materials likely to be used in solar projects -- including glazing, pipe, insulation, ...


Directory for this page:


Note that some of the companies listed under  "Solar Suppliers" provide extensive technical data.

Glazing Materials Overview
Comparison of Solar Collector Glazing Materials...



A comparison of glass, corrugated polycarbonate, sheet polycarbonate, and other potential glazing materials for DIY solar collectors.
Windows and Glass
Efficient Windows

Good information on choosing windows for your exposure, climate, aims...  Try the "Window Selection Tool".
Pilkington Glass

Good technical data on a wide variety of glasses and some useful calculators. Good write up on spectrally selective glazing.
Plastic Glazing and Plastics
Macrolux Plastic Glazing

Page with useful pdfs:

Good rundown on multiwall polycarbonate:

Co-EX is a manufacturer of plastic glazing products, including Macrolux multi wall polycarbonate glazing.  Their website provides a good deal of useful technical information.
Good Data Sheet on SunTuf Polycarbonate Glazing


Lots of detail on the SunTuf polycarbonate glazing material. 
Boedeker Plastics

Plastics properties and selection guides

Material properties and selection information for a wide variety of plastics.
Specs for a wide variety of plastics


Specifications for a wide variety of plastics: Acrylic, Nylon, PVC, Polycarbonate, HDPE, ...
Thermal Conductivies of Materials

Thermal conductivities of many materials.

Engineering Toolbox

Material Specs on High Temperature Plastics


Material specs on some high temperature plastics, including PTFE (Teflon).
Teflon, Tefzel, and Tedlar


These products from DuPont may may be a good choice in thin films for an inner layer of glazing for solar collectors.

If you know of a good source for these films in small quantities, please let me know -- Gary.

More ...

Piping and Plumbing Analysis and Properties
Endot Industries

Specifications, material properties, application data, pressure loss tables, ... for various flavors of Polyethylene  pipe.
Pipe Loss Calculator

Calculates pressure losses, velocity, ... for water or water/glycol flow in pipes.

Search for "The Copper Tube Handbook" -- 7mb of more than you will ever need to know about copper tubing/pipe size,  geometry, ratings, ...
Boedeker Plastics

Plastics properties and selection guides

Material properties and selection information for a wide variety of plastics.
Vanguard Piping Systems


Lots of data on PEX tubing, including some test results.


R Values -- Building materials, insulation, air films...
Insulation Fact Sheet

Fairbanks University Cooperative Extension Service



A very good table providing information on all the common (and not so common) types of insulation.

R values, application suitability, pro/con, max service temperature, ...

Very Useful, and, as far as I can see, unbiased (which is hard to find in insulation info on the Internet).

R Value Tables

A couple R value tables for various materials, including common building materials.
R Values for building materials and air films,
A very extensive table of R values for building materials, insulating materials, and for air films and air spaces in various orientations.
Expanded Polystyrene Foam



Material specs for the expanded polystyrene rigid foam board insulation.  This is the white, rigid foam board that is commonly available at home centers.
Insulation Material Properties
(including max service temps and bearing strength)


The Common Insulation Types...


While these sources list polystyrene as having a max rating of about 160F, which sounds fairly high, I would never use it inside a collector -- ever!  Use polyisocyanurate in collectors -- most lumber yards stock this.

NIST Heat Transmission Properties of Insulating
and Building Materials


An database of thermal conductivity values for a wide range of materials.  Not the easiest to use, but it does provide conductivity measurements for a wide variety of materials all tested using the same procedure.

The easiest way to use the database appears to be go to the database search form, set the units you want,  pick the "Material" from the drop-down list, and search.

Rigid Thermoplastic Foams,
Canadian Building Digest


Properties of polystyrene and other rigid foam insulation boards.
R-Value vs Density for Various Insulation Types ...


Interesting plot from the ASHARE Handbook of Fundamentals on insulation conductivity vs density for various insulation types.
Sealants and Caulks for Collector etc. Construction
Silicone Sealant/Caulk Regular hardware store 100% silicone caulk is a good material to use in collectors -- it holds up to the heat, can act as a flexible adhesive, retains is flexibility, and lasts a long time.  It is good for bonding fins to tubes in collectors...
Since its a consumer product, detailed specs can be hard to find -- here are spec sheets for a couple GE silicone caulk that give some details:
GE Silicone II Window & Door...
GE Silicone II Aluminum & Metal...
Specific Heat, Emissivity, ...  of Materials
Specific Heat of Materials  -- specific heat table...   -- emissivity table...


Emissivity material on



Table of specific heats of common materials
ThermoWorks -- Emissivity of Materials
Emissivity of many materials.

Good for radiation calculations and IR camera use.
Roofing Materials
Laboratory Testing of the Reflectance
Properties of Roofing Materials,
Parker, McIlvaine, Barkaszi, and Anello
Florida Solar Energy Center ...

Paper gives lab measured reflectance and IR emissivity  of many types of roofing.


Emissivity of many materials


Emissivity of many materials (paints, metals, plastics, ...)
Properties of Wood
Wood Handbook

Forest Products Laboratory ...

Very good 460 page handbook covering the physical properties of various wood species.

Chapter 3 cover thermal properties.

Properties of Air
Air Density Calculator... Calculator that allows you to calculate the density of air as a function of altitude, temperature and humidity.
Standard Atmosphere Calculator... Calculates air temperature, pressure, density, an speed of sound as a function of altitude and offset temperture.

(note 32.2 * slugs/cf -> llbs/cf)