Buildings are seeking renewable energy sources (e.g., solar) and passive devices, such as Trombe walls. However, the thermal performance of Trombe walls depends on many factors. In this work, the thermal behavior and energy efficiency of a Trombe wall in a lightweight steel frame compartment were evaluated, making use of in situ measurements and numerical simulations. Measurements were performed inside two real scale experimental identical cubic modules, exposed to natural exterior weather conditions. Simulations were made using validated advanced dynamic models. The winter Trombe wall benefits were evaluated regarding indoor air temperature increase and heating energy reduction. Moreover, a thermal behavior parametric study was performed. Several comparisons were made: (1) Sunny and cloudy winter week thermal behavior; (2) Office and residential space use heating energy; (3) Two heating set-points (20 °C and 18 °C); (4) Thickness of the Trombe wall air cavity; (5) Thickness of the thermal storage wall; (6) Dimensions of the interior upper/lower vents; (7) Material of the thermal storage wall. It was found that a Trombe wall device could significantly improve the thermal behavior and reduce heating energy consumption. However, if not well designed and controlled (e.g., to mitigate nocturnal heat losses), the Trombe wall thermal and energy benefits could be insignificant and even disadvantageous.
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