Natural convection over vertical plates is a very well known problem in heat transfer. There are many available correlations to predict Nusselt numbers for a wide range of Rayleigh numbers. These benchmark studies on natural convection for vertical plates were conducted on rather large surfaces leading to Rayleigh numbers in the range of 0.1 to 109. In natural convection the sole driving force of fluid motion is the change in fluid density, when the diffusive limit is small compared to convective heat transfer. However, conduction to air, as well as air entrainment from sides also contributes to the heat removal from heater surfaces. An experimental study has been carried out with small and large heaters compared to published data for 2×103<Ra<4×107. Square surfaces of 12.5 and 25.4 mm, and rectangular heaters of sizes 25.4×101.6 and 25.4×203.2 mm were tested for a range of heat inputs such that the surface temperatures are controlled between 30 °C and 80 °C. It is found that published correlations underpredict the Nusselt numbers as much as 20%. It is observed that widely known correlations underpredict the experimental values since the 3D conduction and side air drifts on heat transfer are not accounted for in these correlations. However, the cuboid model which includes the 3D diffusion term showed much better agreement with the experimental results.

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