Heat is transferred through building envelopes by conduction, radiation, and convection. Of these, convective heat transfer is often the weakest 'link' in the overall heat transfer model. While conduction and radiation heat transfer are supported by well-established analytical and numerical models, the treatment of convection is much less rigorous. Convection modeling involves solution of fluid dynamics problems in which the complexity of an enclosed space's geometry and the diversity of indoor airflow patterns require many fit-for-purpose convection correlations. These must take into account specifics of the space and of the heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. This paper provides an overview of the current knowledge on the modeling of convective heat transfer in load calculation and building energy simulation programs. The paper also discusses various issues related to the robustness of convection coefficient correlations, and reports on new experiments conducted to test the sensitivity of existing convection correlations. The discussed issues relate to: (1) the non-uniformity of the indoor temperature field; (2) the selection of a proper characteristic dimension; (3) the effect of adiabatic and non-adiabatic obstructions in the zone; and (4) the impact of airflow disturbance.

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Energy and Buildings
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Peeters, L. (L.), Beausoleil-Morrison, I, & Novoselac, A. (A.). (2011). Internal convective heat transfer modeling: Critical review and discussion of experimentally derived correlations. Energy and Buildings (Vol. 43, pp. 2227–2239). doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2011.05.002