Advances in Thermal and Optical Simulations of Fenestration Systems: The Development of WINDOW 5

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Conference Paper

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WINDOW is a personal-computer-based computer program used by manufacturers, researchers, and consumers to evaluate the thermal performance properties (U-factors, solar heat gain and shading coefficients, and visible transmittances) of complete windows and other fenestration systems. While WINDOW is used by thousands of users in the United States and internationally and is at the foundation of the National Fenestration Rating Council's U-factor and solar heat gain property procedures, improvements to the program are still necessary for it to meet user needs. Version 5, intended for release in late 1995, is being developed to meet these needs for increased accuracy, a flexible and state-of-the-art user interface, and the capabilities to handle more product types.

WINDOW 5 includes the capabilities to define and model the thermal performance of frames/dividers and their associated edge effects. Currently, such an analysis must be performed outside of WINDOW and requires simplifications to be made to frame profiles or is based on the use of generic frame and edge correlations. WINDOW's two-dimensional thermal model is composed of four sections: a graphical input, automatic grid generation, an finite-element analysis (FEA) solution, and the display of results. In the graphical input section, users are able to directly import a computer-aided design (CAD) drawing or a scanned image of a window profile, replicate its exact geometry, and assign material types and boundary conditions. The automatic grid generation is transparent to the user, with the exception of the requirement that complex shapes (i.e., an aluminum extrusion) be broken down into simpler polyshapes. Inclusion of an automatic grid generation makes detailed "true geometry" frame-and-edge heat-transfer analysis accessible to users without extensive knowledge of numerical methods of heat-transfer analysis. After the cross section is meshed it is sent to the FEA engine for solution and the results are returned. A postprocessor allows for the visual display of temperature and heat flux plots. Note that while this two-dimensional heat-transfer tool is being developed specifically for fenestration products, it also can be used to analyze other building envelope components.

WINDOW 5 also will include a built-in version of a national laboratory's program that allows the user to estimate the orientation-dependent annual energy impacts of a given window in a typical residence in various U.S. climates. This program is based on regressions to a database of DOE2.1 runs. Future versions will include a similar feature for commercial buildings.

Other technical additions include an improved angular/ spectral model for coated and uncoated glazings, the ability to analyze the optical properties of nonhomogeneous layers, and the ability to model the effects of laminated glazing layers. A door module permits the user to compute the total U-factors of exterior doors based on component U-factors calculated using the two-dimensional FEA module.


Thermal Performance of the Exterior Envelopes of Buildings VI Conference

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