Laboratory Procedures for Using Infrared Thermography to Validate Heat Transfer Models

Publication Type

Conference Paper

Date Published


LBNL Report Number



Infrared (IR) imaging radiometers, which measure relative levels of thermal radiation energy, can be used for noninvasive surface temperature measurements of building thermal envelope components undergoing steady-state heat flow in laboratory thermal chambers. One advantage of IR measurement is that it provides large contiguous sets of surface temperature data which are useful for validating the accuracy of complex computer models that predict heat flow through thermally insulated systems. Because they give such detailed information about surface temperature, IR measurements complement hot-box measurements of heat flow. This paper recommends general procedures for reliable quantitative thermographic measurements in chambers operated for winter heating conditions. Actual surface temperature depends on heat flow, surface emittance, and environmental conditions such as air temperature, air flow field, and background thermal radiation. The infrared temperature measurements are affected by many of the same factors including surface emittance, air temperature, background thermal radiation, and air humidity. Equipment specifications for the absolute accuracy of infrared temperature measurements are typically +/-1 deg. C to +/-2 deg. C. Measurements that use a temperature-controlled reference emitter to remove error appear to show accuracies of +/-0.5 deg. C for flat specimens with low temperature gradients.

Conference Name

ASTM Third Symposium on Insulation Materials: Testing and Applications

Year of Publication


Conference Location

Quebec City, Canada

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