Standard Historical Last Updated: Feb 23, 2023 Track Document
ASTM C177-19

Standard Test Method for Steady-State Heat Flux Measurements and Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of the Guarded-Hot-Plate Apparatus

Standard Test Method for Steady-State Heat Flux Measurements and Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of the Guarded-Hot-Plate Apparatus C0177-19 ASTM|C0177-19|en-US Standard Test Method for Steady-State Heat Flux Measurements and Thermal Transmission Properties by Means of the Guarded-Hot-Plate Apparatus Standard new BOS Vol. 04.06 Committee C16
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Significance and Use

5.1 This test method covers the measurement of heat flux and associated test conditions for flat specimens. The guarded-hot-plate apparatus is generally used to measure steady-state heat flux through materials having a “low” thermal conductivity and commonly denoted as “thermal insulators.” Acceptable measurement accuracy requires a specimen geometry with a large ratio of area to thickness.

5.2 Two specimens are selected with their thickness, areas, and densities as identical as possible, and one specimen is placed on each side of the guarded-hot-plate. The faces of the specimens opposite the guarded-hot-plate and primary guard are placed in contact with the surfaces of the cold surface assemblies.

5.3 Steady-state heat transmission through thermal insulators is not easily measured, even at room temperature. This is due to the fact heat transmission through a specimen occurs by any or all of three separate modes of heat transfer (radiation, conduction, and convection). It is possible that any inhomogeneity or anisotropy in the specimen will require special experimental precautions to measure that flow of heat. In some cases it is possible that hours or even days will be required to achieve the thermal steady-state. No guarding system can be constructed to force the metered heat to pass only through the test area of insulation specimen being measured. It is possible that moisture content within the material will cause transient behavior. It is also possible that and physical or chemical change in the material with time or environmental condition will permanently alter the specimen.

5.4 Application of this test method on different test insulations requires that the designer make choices in the design selection of materials of construction and measurement and control systems. Thus it is possible that there will be different designs for the guarded-hot-plate apparatus when used at ambient versus cryogenic or high temperatures. Test thickness, temperature range, temperature difference range, ambient conditions and other system parameters must also be selected during the design phase. Annex A1 is referenced to the user, which addresses such issues as limitations of the apparatus, thickness measurement considerations and measurement uncertainties, all of which must be considered in the design and operation of the apparatus.

5.5 Apparatus constructed and operated in accordance with this test method should be capable of accurate measurements for its design range of application. Since this test method is applicable to a wide range of specimen characteristics, test conditions, and apparatus design, it is impractical to give an all-inclusive statement of precision and bias for the test method. Analysis of the specific apparatus used is required to specify a precision and bias for the reported results. For this reason, conformance with the test method requires that the user must estimate and report the uncertainty of the results under the reported test conditions.

5.6 Qualification of a new apparatus. When a new or modified design is developed, tests shall be conducted on at least two materials of known thermal stability and having verified or calibrated properties traceable to a national standards laboratory. Tests shall be conducted for at least two sets of temperature conditions that cover the operating range for the apparatus. If the differences between the test results and the national standards laboratory characterization are determined to be significant, then the source of the error shall, if possible, be identified. Only after successful comparison with the certified samples, can the apparatus claim conformance with this test method. It is recommended that checks be continued on a periodic basis to confirm continued conformance of the apparatus.

5.7 The thermal transmission properties of a specimen of material have the potential to be affected due to the following factors: (a) composition of the material (b) moisture or other environmental conditions (c) time or temperature exposure (d) thickness (e) temperature difference across the specimen (f) mean temperature. It must be recognized, therefore, that the selection of a representative value of thermal transmission properties for a material must be based upon a consideration of these factors and an adequate amount of test information.

5.8 Since both heat flux and its uncertainty may be dependent upon environmental and apparatus test conditions, as well as intrinsic characteristics of the specimen, the report for this test method shall include a thorough description of the specimen and of the test conditions.

5.9 The results of comparative test methods such as Test Method C518 depend on the quality of the heat flux reference standards. The apparatus in this test method is one of the absolute methods used for generation of the reference standards. The accuracy of any comparative method can be no better than that of the referenced procedure. While it is possible that the precision of a comparative method such as Test Method C518 will be comparable with that of this test method, Test Method C518 cannot be more accurate. In cases of dispute, this test method is the recommended procedure.


1.1 This test method establishes the criteria for the laboratory measurement of the steady-state heat flux through flat, homogeneous specimen(s) when their surfaces are in contact with solid, parallel boundaries held at constant temperatures using the guarded-hot-plate apparatus.

1.2 The test apparatus designed for this purpose is known as a guarded-hot-plate apparatus and is a primary (or absolute) method. This test method is comparable, but not identical, to ISO 8302.

1.3 This test method sets forth the general design requirements necessary to construct and operate a satisfactory guarded-hot-plate apparatus. It covers a wide variety of apparatus constructions, test conditions, and operating conditions. Detailed designs conforming to this test method are not given but must be developed within the constraints of the general requirements. Examples of analysis tools, concepts and procedures used in the design, construction, calibration and operation of a guarded-hot-plate apparatus are given in Refs (1-41).2

1.4 This test method encompasses both the single-sided and the double-sided modes of measurement. Both distributed and line source guarded heating plate designs are permitted. The user should consult the standard practices on the single-sided mode of operation, Practice C1044, and on the line source apparatus, Practice C1043, for further details on these heater designs.

1.5 The guarded-hot-plate apparatus can be operated with either vertical or horizontal heat flow. The user is cautioned however, since the test results from the two orientations may be different if convective heat flow occurs within the specimens.

1.6 Although no definitive upper limit can be given for the magnitude of specimen conductance that is measurable on a guarded-hot-plate, for practical reasons the specimen conductance should be less than 16 W/(m2K).

1.7 This test method is applicable to the measurement of a wide variety of specimens, ranging from opaque solids to porous or transparent materials, and a wide range of environmental conditions including measurements conducted at extremes of temperature and with various gases and pressures.

1.8 Inhomogeneities normal to the heat flux direction, such as layered structures, can be successfully evaluated using this test method. However, testing specimens with inhomogeneities in the heat flux direction, such as an insulation system with thermal bridges, can yield results that are location specific and shall not be attempted with this type of apparatus. See Test Method C1363 for guidance in testing these systems.

1.9 Calculations of thermal transmission properties based upon measurements using this method shall be performed in conformance with Practice C1045.

1.10 In order to ensure the level of precision and accuracy expected, persons applying this standard must possess a knowledge of the requirements of thermal measurements and testing practice and of the practical application of heat transfer theory relating to thermal insulation materials and systems. Detailed operating procedures, including design schematics and electrical drawings, should be available for each apparatus to ensure that tests are in accordance with this test method. In addition, automated data collecting and handling systems connected to the apparatus must be verified as to their accuracy. This can be done by calibration and inputting data sets, which have known results associated with them, into computer programs.

1.11 It is not practical for a test method of this type to establish details of design and construction and the procedures to cover all contingencies that might offer difficulties to a person without technical knowledge concerning theory of heat flow, temperature measurements and general testing practices. The user may also find it necessary, when repairing or modifying the apparatus, to become a designer or builder, or both, on whom the demands for fundamental understanding and careful experimental technique are even greater. Standardization of this test method is not intended to restrict in any way the future development of new or improved apparatus or procedures.

1.12 This test method does not specify all details necessary for the operation of the apparatus. Decisions on sampling, specimen selection, preconditioning, specimen mounting and positioning, the choice of test conditions, and the evaluation of test data shall follow applicable ASTM Test Methods, Guides, Practices or Product Specifications or governmental regulations. If no applicable standard exists, sound engineering judgment that reflects accepted heat transfer principles must be used and documented.

1.13 This test method allows a wide range of apparatus design and design accuracy to be used in order to satisfy the requirements of specific measurement problems. Compliance with this test method requires a statement of the uncertainty of each reported variable in the report. A discussion of the significant error factors involved is included.

1.14 Major sections within this test method are arranged as follows:





Referenced Documents




Summary of Test Method


Significance and Use




Specimen Preparation and Conditioning




Calculation of Results




Precision and Bias






General Arrangement of the Mechanical Components of the Guarded-Hot-Plate Apparatus

Fig. 1

Illustration of Heat Flow in the Guarded-Hot-Plate Apparatus


Example Report Form

Fig. 3



Importance of Thickness


Measuring Thickness


Limitations Due to Apparatus


Limitations Due to Temperature


Limitations Due to Specimen


Random and Systematic Error Components


Error Components for Variables


Thermal Conductance or Thermal Resistance Error Analysis


Thermal Conductivity or Thermal Resistivity Error Analysis


Uncertainty Verification


1.15 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

1.16 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. Specific precautionary statements are given in Note 22.

1.17 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 04.06
Developed by Subcommittee: C16.30
Pages: 23
DOI: 10.1520/C0177-19
ICS Code: 17.200.10