This study investigated the relationship of thermal sensations at local body segments and the whole body for better understanding how to estimate the overall thermal perception as a function of partial body sensations, with consideration of human factors, such as gender and body mass index.
Thermal comfort can be expressed as a function of thermal dynamics between the human body and the ambient thermal condition, and it primarily consists of a combination of local thermal perceptions. Since an individual body area contributes to the overall thermal sensation with different significance levels, and a specific area(s) has high potential to determine the whole-body sensation, especially in a typical building environment where the thermal condition is uniformly distributed and no extremely cold or hot condition is available.
For this study, a series of human subject experiment was conducted with 18 volunteers in an environmental chamber while the thermal condition was changed and a thermal sensation was surveyed in a regular way. Seven local body area were selected based on the current thermoregulation-related literature, and the local body sensations were recorded together. This study revealed that each local body sensation is significantly correlated with the overall sensation, but the individual body area’s accountability for the whole-body sensation varied. In addition, results of this research also suggested optimal combinations of local body areas that could represent the whole-body sensation in a high accuracy.