It is widely accepted that most people spend the majority of their lives indoors. Most individuals do not realize that while indoors, roughly half of heat exchange affecting their thermal comfort is in the form of thermal infrared radiation. We show that while researchers have been aware of its thermal comfort significance over the past century, systemic error has crept into the most common evaluation techniques, preventing adequate characterization of the radiant environment. Measuring and characterizing radiant heat transfer is a critical component of both building energy efficiency and occupant thermal comfort and productivity. Globe thermometers are typically used to measure mean radiant temperature (MRT), a commonly used metric for accounting for the radiant effects of an environment at a point in space. In this paper we extend previous field work to a controlled laboratory setting to (1) rigorously demonstrate that existing correction factors used in the American Society of Heating Ventilation and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 55 or ISO7726 for using globe thermometers to quantify MRT are not sufficient; (2) develop a correction to improve the use of globe thermometers to address problems in the current standards; and (3) show that mean radiant temperature measured with ping-pong ball-sized globe thermometers is not reliable due to a stochastic convective bias. We also provide an analysis of the maximum precision of globe sensors themselves, a piece missing from the domain in contemporary literature.
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