FLIRmask vs other Reflective Sheeting Shoot-out – Which is best?

FLIRmask – Is this the greatest reflective grow-room sheeting ever?

Grow lights cost money to run. That might seem like an obvious statement, but the implication of that is that (most growers) will want to make the most effective use of the money they spend on electricity as possible.

To make a garden as efficient as possible, growers will want to make sure that as many photons produced by their grow light reach their plants as they can.

In order to do that, growers need to surround their plants with reflective surfaces to make sure that any photons of light that do not hit the plants directly from the lamp are reflected back towards the plants.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of achieving this – either by using a grow tent with a reflective lining, or by kitting out the walls of a whole room with reflective sheeting.

For those who use a grow tent, the reflective lining already comes with the tent. In the BudBox Pro range of  grow tents there is always the choice of whether to go for a white reflective lining or a silver reflective lining. However, most grow tent manufacturers do not offer a choice, so the grower will end up with the reflective lining that comes with the grow tent that they decide to buy.

For growers whose garden is a room, there is a lot more scope for choice in terms of the reflective surface for their walls.

 White plastic sheeting and Silver (Mylar) sheeting have been around for a long time and have been the “go to” solution for a long time. However, in recent years there have been some new additions to the types of reflective sheeting that can be had – Diamond sheeting, Orca diffusion sheeting, and now FLIRmask have hit the market. But which one is best?

To find out, we set up a fairly simple test to see which reflective sheeting reflects light the best.

But how do we judge what is the best reflective sheeting?

What we know from past experience is that reflective surfaces which are mirror-like can create “hot-spots” in the garden. Hot-spots are where the reflected light is concentrated on one or more small patches. The light intensity in these hot-spots can end up being so high that they create the potential to cause light-burn to the foliage in those areas, all while the rest of the garden is compromised due to receiving less reflected light than it could use.

What we really want is a reflective surface that spreads the available reflected light evenly back into the garden space by reflecting the light back in to the garden at a lot of different angles (both narrow ones and wide ones).

The traditional choice of a mylar reflective surface, while highly reflective, is very mirror-like, i.e. it does not spread the reflected light out with a wide angle. White plastic sheeting spreads the light out better than mylar, but it tends to be less reflective in total. What we really want is the best of both worlds. We want high reflectivity and excellent dispersion.

So how do the new kids on the block fare in comparison to the standard sheeting?

 The Test

For this test, a popular grow light (a 600 watt Gavita Pro in this case) was hung at a height of approximately 15 inches above a large flat surface (a hard floor).

5 types of reflective sheeting were selected – FLIRmask, Diamond Litetite, Orca sheeting, White plastic grow film, and Silver Poly Shield sheeting. Each sheet was laid out flat underneath the light and the PAR intensity reflected off it was measured by a quantum sensor at 3 different (but fixed) points.

The quantum sensor was fitted with a hood to ensure that no light coming directly off the grow lamp would be part of the measurement. In this way, the only light being measured would be the light being reflected by the sheeting.

As we said before, what we really want  is excellent reflectivity and excellent dispersion. To test dispersion we chose three test points which had different angles of incidence between the grow light and the sheeting:

To keep the test fair, accurate, and meaningful, great care was taken to ensure that the 3 test points remained exactly the same for all 5 types of sheeting. Here are the PPFD readings (in µmol/m2/sec) as measured by our LiCor PAR Meter:

Angle of Incidence: FLIRmask ORCA  Diamond Silver White Plastic Silver Poly
70 Degrees 408 406 356 330 300
45 Degrees 369 367 310 298 197
10 Degrees 122 121 117 86 87

The results pretty much speak for themselves. The 3 newest additions to the world of grow sheeting (FLIRmask, Orca, and Diamond Silver) are both more reflective and disperse light better than the old stalwarts (White and Silver flat reflective sheeting).

Taking a closer look at just the three front runners we can see that overall, the FLIRmask just pips everything else to be the most reflective sheeting on the market. While the Orca sheeting performs exceptionally well, it very narrowly misses the performance of the FLIRmask.

The Diamond Silver reflective sheeting does a very good job too, and with it being the cheapest of the top three it also represents excellent value-for-money. However, it’s shortfall in reflectivity compared to FLIRmask and Orca make it a definite 3rd choice.

With just one glance, we can clearly see that the real battle is between the FLIRmask and the Orca. They are both premium products and either one would do any grow room proud. However, FLIRmask has a few extra tricks up it’s sleeve that more than justifies it’s price tag.

FLIRmask was developed with military uses in mind. It is exceptionally thick and tough making it highly resistant to tearing, and it will withstand just about any treatment you throw at it.

It is an incredible heat insulator too. If you grow in colder climes in the middle of Winter then it can be difficult to maintain reasonable grow-room temperatures, particularly during the “lights-off” period. FLIRmask can help a lot in this situation, insulating your plants against the cold, and the inherent risk of your plants “stalling” if the temps should get too low.

FLIRmask is completely cleanable and will not be damaged by cleaning products or chemicals. It also reflects blue light better than virtually any other reflective sheeting which makes it THE best sheeting to use in the veg stage.

On top of that, as the name suggests, FLIRmask allows no Infra-red to leave your grow space through it. If this quality matters to you then FLIRmask is the best product that you can buy.

Peace of mind, great thermal qualities, toughness, and superb diffuse reflectivity make FLIRmask the grow sheet that really stands out from the crowd.