Proposed features/Insulation proposal

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Insulation proposal
Proposal status: Draft (under way)
Proposed by: fanfouer
Tagging: insulation=*
Applies to: node area way
Definition: Propose to add information about any kind of building, pipeline or cable insulation (thermal, electrical, soundproofing, pressure or even waterproofing)

Drafted on: 2016-12-06

This is a placeholder page for incoming proposal. Writing is pending, keep in touch !


Insulation refers to all means designed to protect an object or a closed place from something that should be avoided or to prevent a fluid to get out of any duct. It often regards building=* with heat, cold or noise protection but can also cover power power=cables, man_made=pipeline or even noisy highway=*.

Materials like mineral wool or SF6 gas are used to prevent cold from getting inside buildings or high voltage power lines to get linked to earth.

According to wikipedia, we can consider several field covered by insulation :


It is proposed to start mapping any insulation mean in OSM with the insulation=* key.
It can allow contributors to best describe how man_made structures are built to save energy or get more efficient and respect surrounding environment.
Data consumers may be interested in retrieving such information as to improve city planning or industrial design.
Then, citizen may have to know how the place they live in saves power or not, or how the next door highway will be heard inside of homes.

Such a domain is broad and various insulation means actually exist. I wish this proposal to be an introduction with only 1 or 2 new keys.
Maximum precision on buildings may not be possible without a deep area OSM cluttering, wall, windows and roof distinguishing, which reasonably can't be done.
This document will be focused on global insulation classification and material mapping.
Local classifications (material efficiency, financial advantages and so on...) can't be added to OSM since they are really different between countries or even cities. It is proposed to only add objective information.

As many proposal, it aims to provide consistent tagging suitable for certain situations (as wide as possible). Individual cases can rise against what is proposed there.
Keep in mind that perfection doesn't simply exist and tagging schemes are built to be extended in several steps.
RFC will help to best refine scope and goals of this proposal.


Here is a partial tagging to use on any insulated object (buildings, power cables, pipelines, noise reduction wall...)

Key Value Comment Recommendation
insulation <Field of insulation> The kind of protection the material is supposed to bring on object. See below for proposed values mandatory
insulation:material <insulation material> The material used to insulate the object recommended
insulation:structure <insulation structure> How the material is organized to provide a good insulation optional

Insulation values

List of possible insulation=* values
Key Value Comment
insulation thermal A Thermal insulation includes all means preventing heat or cold to penetrate a place or object. Use this value to indicate a specific building=yes (for instance) is protected against heat loss or cold exposition.
soundproof Soundproofing consists in reducing (often by absorption) the mechanical pressure caused by sound propagation in free space. We can use this value on noise reduction barrier=wall beside a high traffic road.
electrical Electrical insulation aims to protect a power device feed at a different voltage than one of surrounding environment from brutal discharge in earth. It's a mandatory condition to safe power transmission in cables which are often placed in narrow or underground places.
radioactive Radioactive waste treatment aims to protect from hazards caused by radioactive wastes. The tag can be usable for radioactive dumping sites.

Insulation material

The insulation material is given regardless of its shape or weight, regardless of the field of insulation it serves or of the structure it is involved into.

List of possible insulation:material=* values
Key Value Comment
insulation:material glass

Insulation structures

List of possible insulation:structure=* values
Key Value Comment
coating The most common insulation structure: insulating mediums surround the insulated subject
faraday_cage A Faraday cage can be considered as an insulation medium to protect a particular device or environment.
pressurized When fluids and gas are used to protected something. For instance, pressurized SF6 or nitrogen can be used to shorten insulation distances between power conductors and earthed supports.

Keys to be replaced

Obsolete tag Used for ? New tag(s) to use
gas_insulated=yes Electrical insulation on power lines insulation=electrical + insulation:material=gas + insulation:structure=pressurized



Photo Aerial view Tagging Note


SF6 insulation. Faraday cages. Plastic insulation (for cables)

Photo Aerial view Tagging Note
SF6 insulated power substation switchyard
- On power lines or power bays designed with gas insulation :

But also on eventual switches or measurement devices :

A Gas Insulated Substation (GIS) where SF6 (sulphur hexafluoride) gas is used as an insulation medium to shorten insulation distances between live conductor and its supports.
Devices like switches or current transformers should also have this tagging since they are insulated the same way too in that kind of substation

Pipelines and fluid ducts

Heat insulators, cold insulators,

Photo Aerial view Tagging Comments
Insulated pipeline ducts storage.
- Ducts are insulated with rock whool uncoated at ends as to allow solding works during contruction

Transport noise

Noise reducing walls,

Photo Aerial view Tagging Note
Noise reducing wall along a German motorway
- On highway way A noise barrier preventing car noise disturbing neighbourhood of a high traffic road in Germany. Tagging of this proposal aims to describe the highway itself instead of the barrier beside, like speed limit signs and their effect on the corresponding road section.


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See also