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Building and Enuironmenf, Vol. 31, No. 5, pp.

39947, 1996

Pergamon .._
Cowright -
0 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd. All nehts reserved
Printed in &eat Britain
036&1323/96 $15.00+0.00

PII: SO360-1323(96)0001&5

Measurement of the Heat Transfer

Coefficient for Walls

S. E. G. JAYAMAHA* (Received 25 September 1995; accepted 12 December 1995)


A test set-up was developedfor the determination of the external heat transfer coef$cient of walls
under actual outdoor conditions. The set-up was used to measure the convective heat transfer
coef$cient for the central region of a vertical wall. Outdoor tests were carried out under a wide
range of conditions and the heat transfer coefjcient was correlated with wind speed. Results
obtained indicate that the heat transfer coef$cient varies from 6 to 10 W/m’- Kfor wind speeds
ranging from 0 to 4 m/s. In addition, the wind direction was found not to have a significant effect
on the coefficient for large wall surfaces. Copyright 0 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.

INTRODUCTION 50%) measured under their experimental conditions. A

recent study by Wijeysundera et al. [7] to predict the heat
EXTERNAL building surfaces continuously exchange
flow through building walls has shown that an uncer-
heat with the environment by convection and radiation.
tainty of 15% in the surface heat transfer coefficient can
This occurs under the influence of varying outdoor con-
result in an uncertainty of 15-20% in the predicted heat
ditions such as wind, ambient temperature and solar radi-
flow. Therefore, using equation (1) to estimate the surface
ation. Knowledge of the convective and radiative heat
heat transfer coefficient can cause significant overesti-
flows at the external surfaces of the building will allow
mation of the building cooling or heating load. This
an accurate estimate of the heat loss or gain through the
would result in the over-sizing of building cooling or
building envelope. The envelope heat transmission thus
heating systems, leading to higher capital expenditure
obtained contributes to the total space heat loss or cool-
and higher operating costs.
ing load, whose determination is required in design for
A number of studies have been carried out to obtain
thermal comfort and selection of heating, ventilating and
better estimates of the surface heat transfer coefficient for
air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.
building surfaces. However, most of the studies have
The radiative heat exchange at the exterior surface of
focused on internal surfaces and employed a great variety
a building can be evaluated through its radiative heat
of methods. One such method is the “Mayer ladder” [8,
transfer coefficient, which is usually obtained from a
93, which uses a series of temperature sensors to measure
knowledge of the emissivity and temperature of the
the air temperature gradient close to the wall from which
surface. The convective surface heat transfer coefficient,
the convective heat transfer coefficient is deduced. Ano-
on the other hand, depends on the air flow conditions
ther method uses an experimental facility [lo] with heated
experienced by the surface and is usually estimated using
panels at isothermal conditions. This minimises the radi-
correlations developed based on experimental studies.
ation effects and the heat loss from the wall panels is
The correlation commonly used to estimate the con-
estimated from the measured heat input to the wall
vective heat transfer coefficient, h,, is recommended by
panels. Another study has used a closely controlled pas-
sive solar sunspace [ 111, where the convective heat trans-
h, = 5.7+3.8v, (1) fer coefficient is obtained by an overall energy balance
for the space. This test method requires a large scale test
where h, is in W/m2. K and the wind speed, v, is in m/s.
facility and in addition the wall conductive heat flux has
This simple equation is based on wind tunnel experiments
to be obtained by solving analytically the heat conduction
carried out on a flat plate by Jurges and documented by
equation. Although these methods are useful in mea-
McAdams [2]. However, wind tunnel studies carried out
suring the heat transfer coefficient under indoor
by Sparrow et al. [3-61 using the napthalene sublimation
conditions, they cannot be used directly to measure the
technique have indicated that equation (1) substantially
heat transfer coefficient under outdoor conditions.
overestimates the heat transfer coefficient (by as much as
A number of studies have also been carried out to
measure the wind-related heat transfer coefficients for
external surfaces but have mainly used wind tunnels with
*Department of Mechanical and Production Engineering, building models, as in the case for solar collectors moun-
National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, 0511 ted on building roofs [12-151. Such experiments have
Singapore. their limitations as the wind tunnel experiments cannot
400 S. E. G. Jayamaha et al.

surface area of the plate

the conductive heat flow
the solar radiation absorptivity
the solar radiation intensity

qc--- i h(Tp - T, )
the overall surface heat transfer
plate temperature

ambient temperature

Integration of equation (2) over time At gives

P a -“,c.(7,2-T,1) -A- (3)
Fig. 1. Surface energy balance for the test plate 1 L=

where T,, and T,, are the plate temperatures at the begin-
create the actual outdoor transient conditions or the ning and end of the time interval At, respectively. x and
effects of radiation exchange. qc are the total solar radiation absorbed and the total
Therefore, to overcome these shortcomings, the pre- conductive heat input during the time At, respectively.
sent study was undertaken to measure the outdoor con- The integrated quantities are defined as
vective heat transfer coefficient under realistic conditions.
This should lead to more accurate estimation of the ther- I, = 3I,(t). dt
mal performance of building envelopes which will lead
to better design of HVAC systems for buildings. The z = yq,(t). dt
main aims of the study were thus: (i) to develop a method II
to measure the surface heat transfer coefficient under
actual outdoor conditions; (ii) to calibrate and verify the
use of the developed apparatus under known conditions h= “,,
in a laboratory; and thereafter, (iii) to use the apparatus ;r (T,-TT,).dt
to measure the heat transfer coefficient under actual out-
door conditions.

DESCRIPTION OF THE EXPERIMENT The term 7. (T,, - TP,) can be made very small by

Basis of the measurement selecting the time interval At such that TP2 g T,,.
The heat transfer coefficient on the external surface To compute the surface heat transfer coefficient, we
was estimated by measuring the heat loss from a test plate used the measured values of the conductive heat flow, qc,
that was maintained at a constant temperature above intensity of solar radiation, the temperature difference,
the ambient. The plate temperature was controlled by and the value of solar radiation absorptivity, LY,for the
adjusting the heat input to the plate to compensate for plate. The convective surface heat transfer coefficient was
the fluctuations in the solar radiation absorbed by the then computed by subtracting the radiative heat transfer
plate and external heat loss. The latter is caused by chan- coefficient, estimated assuming the plate to be grey and
ges in the wind conditions. The heat flow from the con- surrounded by a black body (described later). Since the
trolled electrical heater into the test plate, qc, was mea- main purpose of the tests was to measure the convective
sured by a heat flux sensor. The various heat interactions heat transfer coefficient, the material of the test plate was
on the test plate are given in Fig. 1. also selected such that its solar radiation absorptivity
The following assumptions are made in deriving the and the longwave emissivity were very low so that the
energy equation governing the temperature variation of radiative energy transfer was very small compared to the
the test plate. convective heat transfer.

1. The temperature of the plate is spatially uniform due

Experimental set-up
to the low value of the Biot number (2 x 10m4).
The experimental arrangement used for measuring the
2. The solar radiation absorptivity of the plate surface is
heat transfer coefficient is shown in Fig. 2. It consisted of
independent of direction.
a 450 mm x 450 mm x 3 mm thick isothermal aluminium
3. All physical properties are independent of tempera-
plate with a 100mm x 100mm heat flow sensor placed
behind it. The temperature of the aluminium plate was
The governing equation is given by maintained constant to f O.l”C by using an Omron E5A
set-point temperature controller connected to Thermofoil
M.C.~= A.cc.Z,(t)+q,(t).A-h.A.(T,-T,), heaters attached on a 2 mm thick copper plate to provide
uniform heating. A square heat flow sensor was placed
(4 in a cut-out made in a rubber sheet nominally the same
thickness as the heat flow sensor (2mm) to provide a
guard against lateral heat flow from the heat flow sensor.
M mass of the plate Two thin rubber sheets (0.5mm thick) were glued on
C specific heat capacity of the plate either side of the rubber sheet with the heat flow sensor
Measurement of the Heat Transfer Coefficient for Walls 401

controller -t-_ Tset

w ,JThermocouple

- Rubber sheet
Plywood -
A Aluminium plate
(450mm x 450mm)

Heat flow sensor

(100mm x 100mm)

insulation (50mm)
Thermopile junctions

2mm copper plate

with film heaters
Fig. 2. Arrangement of the test plate.

to provide a protective cover for the heat flow sensor. conductivity value of the standard specimen, were used
Prior to mounting on the test rig, the heat flux sensor to compute the ratio of heat flow to the voltage output
complete with the rubber protective covering was cali- of the heat flow sensor. The thermal resistance for the
brated in a manner similar to the actual operating con- standard specimen is known to have an accuracy between
ditions as recommended by ASTM C 1130-90 [ 161. about 2 and 3%. This was combined with the uncertainty
of the output of the thermopile and the thickness using
Calibration procedure the root-sum-square method [20]. The resulting cali-
The heat flow sensor was calibrated using a standard bration uncertainty of the heat flow sensor was about
insulation test specimen [17]. The specimen used was a 5%.
25.4mm thick, 300mm x 300mm glass wool standard After completing the calibration procedure, the heat
board obtained from the National Bureau of Standards flow sensor-rubber sheet assembly was placed in the test
of the U.S.A. The calibration test was done using a heat apparatus between the aluminium plate and the copper
flow meter apparatus constructed based on the ASTM plate with the film heaters to enable measurement of the
guidelines [18]. The heat flow sensor-rubber sheet conductive heat flow through the isothermal aluminium
assembly was placed in the heat flow meter apparatus plate. A thermopile was used to measure the temperature
between two horizontal brass plates which were essen- difference between the aluminium plate and the ambient
tially fin-tube heat exchangers. These heat exchangers air. The set of thermopile junctions used to measure the
were connected to two thermostatically controlled liquid aluminium plate temperature were pasted on the inner
baths, the temperatures of which were controlled auto- surface of the plate rather than the outer surface to elim-
matically with an accuracy of f 0.1 “C. For temperature inate effects due to radiation during outdoor testing. The
measurement across the specimen an 8-junction ther- difference in temperature across the 3mm aluminium
mopile was used. This was previously calibrated using plate for the range of heat flows encountered during
the procedure recommended by Huang [ 191 with one set testing was estimated to be about 0.002”C for a plate
of junctions immersed in a liquid bath at 0°C and the temperature of about 40°C. The resulting uncertainty
other set of junctions placed in a temperature controlled was only about 0.005%. This was much less than the
liquid bath maintained at different temperatures to uncertainty of the thermopile measurement, which was
obtain the emf temperature relationship. The glass wool estimated to be about 4%. The set of thermopile junctions
standard test specimen with the thermopile junctions used to measure the outdoor temperature were placed in
pasted alternately on both surfaces was placed on the an enclosure to protect the thermopile junctions from
lower brass plate. The heat flow sensor with its rubber radiation effects.
guard was sandwiched between the test specimen and the
top heat exchanger plate. Wind tunnel measurements
The temperature of the heat exchanger plates covered Prior to using the test apparatus to measure the heat
the range that was expected in the outdoor tests. The transfer coefficient under outdoor conditions, the appar-
heat flow sensor and thermopile outputs were recorded atus was used to measure the heat transfer coefficient
continuously and the system was allowed to reach steady- under steady-state conditions in a laboratory wind
state. The thermopile output which gives the temperature tunnel. This was to establish the feasibility of the test
difference across the specimen, and the known thermal procedure and the reliability of the test set-up.
402 S. E. G. Jayamaha et al.

.. 1 -
Shading device

Test plate
- Outdoor
- measurement

- Plywood sheet

Fig. 3. Outdoor testing arrangement.

The wind tunnel measurements were conducted under not significantly affect the accuracy of the estimated con-
steady-state conditions. Nevertheless, these tests dem- vective heat transfer coefficient since the emissivity of the
onstrated the feasibility of the procedure. The convective aluminium surface is very low (0.04). The radiative heat
heat transfer coefficient, h,, obtained by applying equa- flux estimated at the plate operating temperature for this
tion (2) with dT,/dt = 0 and Z,(t) = 0 agreed with that emissivity was about 4 W/m’. The resulting radiative heat
obtained from known heat transfer correlations [21] transfer coefficient is only 0.3 W/m’. K compared to the
within about 10-l 5%. convective heat transfer coefficient of about 6
10 W/m2. K.
The test plate was also shaded from direct radiation
Outdoor measurements by placing an opaque shield at a distance or by pos-
After laboratory testing of the test measuring system, itioning the test set-up in such a way as to prevent direct
the entire plate assembly was used under actual outdoor radiation falling on it. This was done to maintain the
weather conditions without rain to measure the outdoor solar radiation absorbed (a. I,) relatively small compared
heat transfer coefficient. In the outdoor tests, to obtain a to the conductive heat flow, which would make equation
better representation of the air flow conditions experi- (3) more sensitive to small changes in the heat transfer
enced by actual building walls, the isothermal plate coefficient h. This can be demonstrated using some typical
assembly was mounted in a square cut-out made at the operating data given in Table 1. Under steady-state con-
centre of a large plywood sheet (1.8m x 1.2m). The iso- ditions, for a conductive heat flow (qc) of 130 W/m’ and
thermal plate was mounted flush with the plywood sheet an absorbed solar radiation of 68 W/m’ (taking the
so that it formed a larger vertical wall as shown in Fig. 3. absorptivity of the aluminium plate as 0.15) and using
For the outdoor test measurements the heat transfer equation (3) with a surface to ambient temperature
coefficient was computed based on the surface energy difference of 20°C a 10% variation in the solar radiation
balance given by equation (3). The conductive heat flow, intensity (I,) results in a variation of only 3% in the heat
qc, was measured using the heat flow sensor, the solar transfer coefficient. However, for a 10% variation in the
radiation intensity, I,, was measured using a pyranometer conductive heat flow, the resulting variation in the heat
and the temperature difference between the surface and transfer coefficient is about 7%. This shows that for the
ambient (T, - TJ was measured using the pre-calibrated test set-up the heat transfer coefficient will not be very
thermopile. A “windview system 30” wind measuring sensitive to changes in the outdoor solar radiation inten-
instrument was used to measure the wind speed and direc- sity. On the other hand, the measured conductive heat
tion. The data used to compute the heat transfer flux and the heat transfer coefficient are closely related,
coefficient were measured at 30 second intervals using a so that a small change in the heat transfer coefficient
data logger. will be reflected in a similar change in the measured heat
Since the overall heat transfer coefficient h includes flux.
both the convective and radiative components, the con-
vective heat transfer coefficient was estimated by sub-
tracting the radiative component. The radiative heat flow Table 1.Typical values of parameters used
at the plate surface was estimated assuming the plate to Parameter Value
be grey with an emissivity of 0.04 and surrounded by a
black body at ambient temperature. The emissivity value Conductive heat flow q, (W/m’) 50- 130
of 0.04 was determined using a D & S Emissometer (accu- Solar radiation absorptivity z 0.15
Solar radiation intensity I, (W/m’) O-450
racy f0.01 units) and is consistent with tabulated data
Temperature difference between surface
P21. and ambient (‘C) 12-20
Although this assumption is not strictly correct, it does
Measurement of the Heat Transfer Coefficient for Walls 403

-. 140

0 20 40 60 60 100 120
Time (minutes)
Fig. 4. Variation of the convective heat transfer coefficient and measured parameters with time.

OUTDOOR EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS AND heat transfer coefficient. Tests were carried out during
DISCUSSION the day time from about 10 am to 6pm. The test data
obtained on two typical days are shown in Figs 5 and
The detailed time variation of the various parameters 6 with their respective error bands. Figure 5 gives the
of the measuring system is shown in Fig. 4. It is seen that variation of the convective heat transfer coefficient, h,,
when the absorbed solar radiation decreases as from A absorbed solar radiation and measured heat flux with
to B in Fig. 4 the plate temperature decreases, while the time. Figure 6 gives the variation in heat transfer
heat flux entering the test plate from the electric heater, coefficient and temperature difference between the plate
qc, increases. The increase of qc tends to bring the tem- and ambient with time. These two figures show that the
perature of the plate back to the set-point value. measured heat transfer coefficient during the test period
However, due to the time constant of the plate (MC/hA), does not follow the solar radiation intensity or the tem-
which is about 8 minutes, there is a time delay before the perature difference patterns, thus indicating that these
plate temperature turns around and reaches the set-point variables do not significantly affect the heat transfer
value of 45°C at point C. The above variations are also coefficient.
influenced by changes in the external heat transfer The effect of wind speed on the convective heat transfer
coefficient caused by the fluctuations in the wind coefficient is shown in Fig. 7. This figure gives a typical
conditions. The variation of the measured parameters set of results and as expected the convective heat transfer
over 120 minutes shown in Fig. 4 demonstrates the action coefficient is directly related to the wind speed.
of the temperature controller in keeping the plate tem- All the test data obtained during outdoor tests are
perature at the set-point. In spite of the controller, the plotted on Fig. 8, which shows the dependance of the
plate temperature fluctuates within about k 1.5”C about convective heat transfer coefficient on the wind speed.
the set-point value. Regression of the test data gives the best fit line as
The data for estimating the heat transfer coefficient, h, h, = 1.4440 +4.955 and this is also plotted on Fig. 8. The
were recorded at 30 second intervals. The intervals are h, value given by this equation gives agreement to within
much larger than the time constant of the heat flow meter, + 20% with measured data.
which is known to be about 1 second. In order to inves- Figure 9 shows the measured data together with pre-
tigate the effect of different ambient conditions on the dicted values using equation (1) and the correlation given
heat transfer coefficient and to obtain a meaningful cor- by Sparrow et al. [3]. Results show that the heat transfer
relation for its prediction, a data averaging period of coefficient computed using equation (1) overestimates at
15 minutes was used. The heat transfer coefficient, h, is high wind speeds, thus agreeing with results obtained by
assumed to be constant over the 15 minute period, and Sparrow and co-workers. The overestimation is most
equation (2) is integrated over this period. For a 15 probably due to the experimental conditions (air flow
minute period, the standard deviation for the heat trans- parallel to vertical plate in wind tunnel) under which
fer coefficient was found to be generally less than equation (1) was obtained. The heat transfer coefficient
2 W/m’. K. computed using the general correlation obtained by Spar-
Outdoor tests were initially carried out to investigate row and co-workers [4] also tends to be higher than the
the effect of the different variables, namely, solar radi- outdoor measurements since it is also based on wind
ation intensity, wind speed and the temperature difference tunnel experiments. Although, in the wind tunnel tests,
between the surface and the ambient, on the convective measurements had been carried out for different orien-
404 S. E. G. Jayamaha et al.

-Convective heat transfer coefficient /

- - - Measured heat flux ! /
-. - -Absorbed solar radiation

‘.-T ..___.. __.

12 1 2 3 4 5
pm pm pm pm pm pm

Fig. 5. Variation of the convective heat transfer coefficient, measured heat flux and absorbed solar radiation
with time.

18 20

'G ~~
ki 4 ~~ -4
-Convective heat transfer coefficient

Temperature difference

0-C ~ ~ : ~ / : ~ ~ 1 I / I / : ~ ; ~ 1 ; ~ ) ) ) co
12 1 2 3 4 5
pm pm pm pm pm pm
Fig. 6. Variation of the convective heat transfer coefficient and temperature difference with time.

tations of rectangular and square plates, the air flow in convective heat transfer coefficient on the wind direction
the wind tunnel would still be uni-directional compared is not very significant. This agrees with findings of Spar-
to the multi-directional air flow over the plate in the row et ul. [3, 41 in wind tunnel tests for wide and square
outdoor case. plates. However, the results show that the measured heat
To investigate the effect of wind direction on the con- transfer coefficient is slightly higher when the wind direc-
vective heat transfer coefficient, the measured heat trans- tion is parallel to the test plate, although normally the
fer coefficient values were plotted against the relative heat transfer coefficient is expected to be the highest when
angle between the wind direction (obtained using the the flow is normal to the plate. This is possibly due to the
windview system 30 instrument) and the plate orien- formation of a stagnation zone [4] at the centre of the
tation. Results are shown in Fig. 10. Since the wind plate (where the heat flux is measured in this case) when
direction under actual conditions is highly variable, only the flow is normal to it. This would result in a lower
heat transfer coefficient values measured during periods measured value of heat transfer coefficient although the
where the wind direction remained relatively unchanged heat transfer coefficient for the overall test plate would
were used. Figure 10 shows that the dependance of the be higher when the flow is normal to it. When the wind
Measurement of the Heat Transfer Coefjcient for Walls 405

-Convective heat transfer coefficient

E 4 -~
z ..
z? ,‘_.. --..:
aJ 3-- _*. ..
.z .~ ,’ :
,’ _a.
% : *~ ; ,,-.
z 2 ,’ ._,* ,’
.. ..-.-._ ,_ ,’ I’
8 .. .’ . ._. ‘. .
.__. - . . _I’ *. ,.-..._..--.../
1 -~
‘.. ,*

04 ~ / / / I I I : ~ I / I / ~ j I ( 1 I ; I I )

12 1 2 3 4 5
pm pm pm pm pm pm
Fig. 7. Variation of the convective heat transfer coefficient and wind speed with time.


-Regression line h,=l.444v+4.955

Y Measured data

Wind speed (m/s)

Fig. 8. Variation of the convective heat transfer coefficient with wind speed.

direction is changed relative to the plate, the stagnation wind tunnel tests. Their results show that the heat transfer
zone moves away from the point of measurement. As the coefficient towards the edge of the plate is about 20%
relative angle between the wind direction and the plate higher than the value in the central area, and also indicate
reduces to zero, the heat transfer coefficient at the point that the average heat transfer coefficient for the vertical
of measurement increases. plate is about 1.18 times the value in the central area of
The flow pattern for large building walls will be similar the plate. Although the present data are limited to the
to that experienced with the experimental set-up (central central area of the wall, the factor of 1.18 could be used
stagnation zone), and it is expected that actual building to estimate the average heat transfer coefficient for a wall
walls will have a region with a low heat transfer coefficient using the measured data.
at the central region and increasing towards the edges. In
the present series of experiments, the heat flux sensor was Experimental uncertainty
located at the centre of the test wall. The measured heat The heat flux sensor was mounted in the test set-up
transfer coefficient is therefore representative of the value such that it was not exposed to convective or radiative
at the central area of the wall. The variation of the aver- heat transfer in order to avoid the high uncertainties
age heat transfer coefficient at different locations on a associated with them [23]. The heat flux sensor was also
square plate was investigated by Sparrow et al. [4] using mounted in a square cut-out in a rubber sheet to minimise
406 S. E. G. Jayamaha et al.

-Regression line hc =1.444v+4.955

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5 5

Wind speed (m/s)

Fig. 9. Measured and predicted values of the convective heat transfer coefficient.

0 4-j
0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 4 4.5

Wind speed (m/s)

Fig. 10. Dependence of the convective heat transfer coefficient on wind direction.

lateral losses and in addition sandwiched between the assuming a 5% uncertainty for the heat flux sensor, 4%
heater plate and the outer aluminium plate to provide for the thermopile (from the calibration procedure), 0.5%
good surface contact. for the pyranometer (manufacturer’s specification) and
In the calibration procedure using the heat flux meter -f-5% for the solar radiation absorptivity value taken
apparatus [16], the heat flux sensor complete with the from data tables [221.
protective rubber guard was used in the calibration. In
addition, the calibration was done under conditions simi-
lar to the actual conditions (heat flux l&120 W/m’) en-
countered in the measurement of the surface heat transfer
coefficient. This was done to minimise the uncertainties A test set-up was developed and used for measuring
as far as possible. For this heat flux sensor arrangement the convective heat transfer coefficient under outdoor
and calibration procedure, the uncertainty in the heat conditions. Outdoor tests revealed that the commonly
flux sensor measurement is estimated to be about 5%. used correlation for predicting the convective heat trans-
Therefore, the uncertainty band for the measured heat fer coefficient overestimates, especially at high wind
transfer coefficient values is estimated to be _t6-7% speeds.
Measurement of the Heat Transfer Coefficient for Walls 407

The measured convective heat transfer coefficient for heat transfer coefficient is estimated to be about 1.18
the central area of a vertical wall varied from about 6 to times the value in the central area. It was also found that
10 W/m’. K for normally encountered wind speeds of C the wind direction did not have a significant effect on the
4 m/s and a correlation was obtained interms of the wind heat transfer coefficient for large walls.
speed. From the results of Sparrow et al. [4], the average


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