Natural Convection in Passive Solar Buildings: Experiments, Analysis and Results
Computer programs have been developed to numerically simulate natural convection in two- and three-dimensional room geometries. The programs have been validated using published data from the literature, results from a full-scale experiment performed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and results from a small-scale experiment performed at LBL. One of the computer programs has been used to study the influence of natural convection on the thermal performance of a single zone in a direct-gain passive solar building. It is found that the convective heat transfer coefficients between the air and the enclosure surfaces can be substantially different from the values assumed in the standard building energy analysis methods, and can exhibit significant variations across a given surface. This study implies that the building heating loads calculated by standard building energy analysis methods may have substantial errors as a result of their use of common assumptions regarding the convection processes which occur in an enclosure.