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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Thermal sensation and comfort models for non-uniform and transient environments: Part III: whole-body sensation and comfort


A three-part series presents the development of models for predicting the local thermal sensation (Part I) and local thermal comfort (Part II) of different parts of the human body, and also the whole-body sensation and comfort (Part III) that result from combinations of local sensation and comfort. The models apply to sedentary activities in a range of environments: uniform and non-uniform, stable and transient. They are based on diverse findings from the literature and from body-part-specific human subject tests in a climate chamber. They were validated against a test of automobile passengers. The series is intended to present the models’ rationale, structure, and coefficients, so that others can test them and develop them further as additional empirical data becomes available.

A) The whole-body (overall) sensation model has two forms, depending on whether all of the body’s segments have sensations effectively in the same direction (e.g warm or cool), or whether some segments have sensations opposite to those of the rest of the body. For each, individual body parts have different weights for warm versus cool sensations, and strong local sensations dominate the overall sensation. If all sensations are near neutral, the overall sensation is close to the average of all body sensations.

B) The overall comfort model also has two forms. Under stable conditions, people evaluate their overall comfort by a complaint-driven process, meaning that when two body parts are strongly uncomfortable, no matter how comfortable the other body parts might be, the overall comfort will be near the discomfort level of the two most uncomfortable parts. When the environmental conditions are transient, or people have control over their environments, overall comfort is better than that of the two most uncomfortable body parts. This can be accounted for by adding the most comfortable vote to the two most uncomfortable ones.

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