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Lumped element model

The lumped element model (also called lumped parameter model,

or lumped component model) simplifies the description of the
behaviour of spatially distributed physical systems into a topology
consisting of discrete entities that approximate the behaviour of the
distributed system under certain assumptions. It is useful in electrical
systems (including electronics), mechanical multibody systems, heat
transfer, acoustics, etc.

Mathematically speaking, the simplification reduces the state space of the Representation of a lumped model
system to a finite dimension, and the partial differential equations (PDEs) made up of a voltage source and a
of the continuous (infinite-dimensional) time and space model of the
physical system into ordinary differential equations (ODEs) with a finite
number of parameters.

1 Electrical systems
1.1 Lumped matter discipline
1.2 Lumped element model
2 Thermal systems
2.1 Method
2.1.1 Thermal purely resistive circuits
2.1.2 Newton's law of cooling
2.1.3 Applicable situations
2.1.4 Mathematical statement
2.1.5 Solution in terms of object heat capacity
2.2 Applications
3 Mechanical systems
4 Acoustics
5 Heat transfer for buildings
6 See also
7 References
8 External links

Electrical systems

Lumped matter discipline

The lumped matter discipline is a set of imposed assumptions in electrical engineering that provides the
foundation for lumped circuit abstraction used in network analysis.[1] The self-imposed constraints are:

1. The change of the magnetic flux in time outside a conductor is zero.

2. The change of the charge in time inside conducting elements is zero.

3. Signal timescales of interest are much larger than propagation delay of electromagnetic waves across the lumped

The first two assumptions result in Kirchhoff's circuit laws when applied to Maxwell's equations and are only
applicable when the circuit is in steady state. The third assumption is the basis of the lumped element model used in
network analysis. Less severe assumptions result in the distributed element model, while still not requiring the direct
application of the full Maxwell equations.

Lumped element model

The lumped element model of electronic circuits makes the simplifying assumption that the attributes of the circuit,
resistance, capacitance, inductance, and gain, are concentrated into idealized electrical components; resistors,
capacitors, and inductors, etc. joined by a network of perfectly conducting wires.

The lumped element model is valid whenever , where denotes the circuit's characteristic length, and
denotes the circuit's operating wavelength. Otherwise, when the circuit length is on the order of a wavelength, we must
consider more general models, such as the distributed element model (including transmission lines), whose dynamic
behaviour is described by Maxwell's equations. Another way of viewing the validity of the lumped element model is to
note that this model ignores the finite time it takes signals to propagate around a circuit. Whenever this propagation
time is not significant to the application the lumped element model can be used. This is the case when the propagation
time is much less than the period of the signal involved. However, with increasing propagation time there will be an
increasing error between the assumed and actual phase of the signal which in turn results in an error in the assumed
amplitude of the signal. The exact point at which the lumped element model can no longer be used depends to a
certain extent on how accurately the signal needs to be known in a given application.

Real-world components exhibit non-ideal characteristics which are, in reality, distributed elements but are often
represented to a first-order approximation by lumped elements. To account for leakage in capacitors for example, we
can model the non-ideal capacitor as having a large lumped resistor connected in parallel even though the leakage is,
in reality distributed throughout the dielectric. Similarly a wire-wound resistor has significant inductance as well as
resistance distributed along its length but we can model this as a lumped inductor in series with the ideal resistor.

Thermal systems
A lumped capacitance model, also called lumped system analysis,[2] reduces a thermal system to a number of
discrete lumps and assumes that the temperature difference inside each lump is negligible. This approximation is
useful to simplify otherwise complex differential heat equations. It was developed as a mathematical analog of
electrical capacitance, although it also includes thermal analogs of electrical resistance as well.

The lumped capacitance model is a common approximation in transient conduction, which may be used whenever
heat conduction within an object is much faster than heat transfer across the boundary of the object. The method of
approximation then suitably reduces one aspect of the transient conduction system (spatial temperature variation
within the object) to a more mathematically tractable form (that is, it is assumed that the temperature within the
object is completely uniform in space, although this spatially uniform temperature value changes over time). The
rising uniform temperature within the object or part of a system, can then be treated like a capacitative reservoir
which absorbs heat until it reaches a steady thermal state in time (after which temperature does not change within it).

An early-discovered example of a lumped-capacitance system which exhibits mathematically simple behavior due to
such physical simplifications, are systems which conform to Newton's law of cooling. This law simply states that the
temperature of a hot (or cold) object progresses toward the temperature of its environment in a simple exponential
fashion. Objects follow this law strictly only if the rate of heat conduction within them is much larger than the heat
flow into or out of them. In such cases it makes sense to talk of a single "object temperature" at any given time (since
there is no spatial temperature variation within the object) and also the uniform temperatures within the object allow
its total thermal energy excess or deficit to vary proportionally to its surface temperature, thus setting up the Newton's
law of cooling requirement that the rate of temperature decrease is proportional to difference between the object and
the environment. This in turn leads to simple exponential heating or cooling behavior (details below).

To determine the number of lumps, the Biot number (Bi), a dimensionless parameter of the system, is used. Bi is
defined as the ratio of the conductive heat resistance within the object to the convective heat transfer resistance across
the object's boundary with a uniform bath of different temperature. When the thermal resistance to heat transferred
into the object is larger than the resistance to heat being diffused completely within the object, the Biot number is less
than 1. In this case, particularly for Biot numbers which are even smaller, the approximation of spatially uniform
temperature within the object can begin to be used, since it can be presumed that heat transferred into the object has
time to uniformly distribute itself, due to the lower resistance to doing so, as compared with the resistance to heat
entering the object.

If the Biot number is less than 0.1 for a solid object, then the entire material will be nearly the same temperature with
the dominant temperature difference will be at the surface. It may be regarded as being "thermally thin". The Biot
number must generally be less than 0.1 for usefully accurate approximation and heat transfer analysis. The
mathematical solution to the lumped system approximation gives Newton's law of cooling.

A Biot number greater than 0.1 (a "thermally thick" substance) indicates that one cannot make this assumption, and
more complicated heat transfer equations for "transient heat conduction" will be required to describe the time-varying
and non-spatially-uniform temperature field within the material body.

The single capacitance approach can be expanded to involve many resistive and capacitive elements, with Bi < 0.1 for
each lump. As the Biot number is calculated based upon a characteristic length of the system, the system can often be
broken into a sufficient number of sections, or lumps, so that the Biot number is acceptably small.

Some characteristic lengths of thermal systems are:

Plate: thickness
Fin: thickness/2
Long cylinder: diameter/4
Sphere: diameter/6
For arbitrary shapes, it may be useful to consider the characteristic length to be volume / surface area.

Thermal purely resistive circuits

A useful concept used in heat transfer applications once the condition of steady state heat conduction has been
reached, is the representation of thermal transfer by what is known as thermal circuits. A thermal circuit is the
representation of the resistance to heat flow in each element of a circuit, as though it were an electrical resistor. The
heat transferred is analogous to the electric current and the thermal resistance is analogous to the electrical resistor.
The values of the thermal resistance for the different modes of heat transfer are then calculated as the denominators of
the developed equations. The thermal resistances of the different modes of heat transfer are used in analyzing
combined modes of heat transfer. The lack of "capacitative" elements in the following purely resistive example, means
that no section of the circuit is absorbing energy or changing in distribution of temperature. This is equivalent to
demanding that a state of steady state heat conduction (or transfer, as in radiation) has already been established.

The equations describing the three heat transfer modes and their thermal resistances in steady state conditions, as
discussed previously, are summarized in the table below:

Equations for different heat transfer modes and their thermal resistances.
Transfer Mode Rate of Heat Transfer Thermal Resistance



, where

In cases where there is heat transfer through different media (for example, through a composite material), the
equivalent resistance is the sum of the resistances of the components that make up the composite. Likely, in cases
where there are different heat transfer modes, the total resistance is the sum of the resistances of the different modes.
Using the thermal circuit concept, the amount of heat transferred through any medium is the quotient of the
temperature change and the total thermal resistance of the medium.

As an example, consider a composite wall of cross-sectional area . The composite is made of an long cement
plaster with a thermal coefficient and long paper faced fiber glass, with thermal coefficient . The left surface
of the wall is at and exposed to air with a convective coefficient of . The right surface of the wall is at and
exposed to air with convective coefficient .

Using the thermal resistance concept, heat flow through the composite is as follows:


, , , and

Newton's law of cooling

Newton's law of cooling is an empirical relationship attributed to English physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727).
This law stated in non-mathematical form is the following:

The rate of heat loss of a body is proportional to the temperature difference between the body and its
Or, using symbols:

An object at a different temperature from its surroundings will ultimately come to a common temperature with its
surroundings. A relatively hot object cools as it warms its surroundings; a cool object is warmed by its surroundings.
When considering how quickly (or slowly) something cools, we speak of its rate of cooling - how many degrees' change
in temperature per unit of time.

The rate of cooling of an object depends on how much hotter the object is than its surroundings. The temperature
change per minute of a hot apple pie will be more if the pie is put in a cold freezer than if it is placed on the kitchen
table. When the pie cools in the freezer, the temperature difference between it and its surroundings is greater. On a
cold day, a warm home will leak heat to the outside at a greater rate when there is a large difference between the inside
and outside temperatures. Keeping the inside of a home at high temperature on a cold day is thus more costly than
keeping it at a lower temperature. If the temperature difference is kept small, the rate of cooling will be
correspondingly low.

As Newton's law of cooling states, the rate of cooling of an object - whether by conduction, convection, or radiation - is
approximately proportional to the temperature difference T. Frozen food will warm up faster in a warm room than in
a cold room. Note that the rate of cooling experienced on a cold day can be increased by the added convection effect of
the wind. This is referred to as wind chill. For example, a wind chill of -20 C means that heat is being lost at the same
rate as if the temperature were -20 C without wind.

Applicable situations
This law describes many situations in which an object has a large thermal capacity and large conductivity, and is
suddenly immersed in a uniform bath which conducts heat relatively poorly. It is an example of a thermal circuit with
one resistive and one capacitative element. For the law to be correct, the temperatures at all points inside the body
must be approximately the same at each time point, including the temperature at its surface. Thus, the temperature
difference between the body and surroundings does not depend on which part of the body is chosen, since all parts of
the body have effectively the same temperature. In these situations, the material of the body does not act to "insulate"
other parts of the body from heat flow, and all of the significant insulation (or "thermal resistance") controlling the
rate of heat flow in the situation resides in the area of contact between the body and its surroundings. Across this
boundary, the temperature-value jumps in a discontinuous fashion.

In such situations, heat can be transferred from the exterior to the interior of a body, across the insulating boundary,
by convection, conduction, or diffusion, so long as the boundary serves as a relatively poor conductor with regard to
the object's interior. The presence of a physical insulator is not required, so long as the process which serves to pass
heat across the boundary is "slow" in comparison to the conductive transfer of heat inside the body (or inside the
region of interestthe "lump" described above).

In such a situation, the object acts as the "capacitative" circuit element, and the resistance of the thermal contact at the
boundary acts as the (single) thermal resistor. In electrical circuits, such a combination would charge or discharge
toward the input voltage, according to a simple exponential law in time. In the thermal circuit, this configuration
results in the same behavior in temperature: an exponential approach of the object temperature to the bath

Mathematical statement
Newton's law is mathematically stated by the simple first-order differential equation:

Q is thermal energy in joules

h is the heat transfer coefficient between the surface and the fluid
A is the surface area of the heat being transferred
T is the temperature of the object's surface and interior (since these are the same in this
Tenv is the temperature of the environment
T(t) = T(t) - Tenv is the time-dependent thermal gradient between environment and object

Putting heat transfers into this form is sometimes not a very good approximation, depending on ratios of heat
conductances in the system. If the differences are not large, an accurate formulation of heat transfers in the system
may require analysis of heat flow based on the (transient) heat transfer equation in nonhomogeneous or poorly
conductive media.

Solution in terms of object heat capacity

If the entire body is treated as lumped capacitance heat reservoir, with total heat content which is proportional to
simple total heat capacity , and , the temperature of the body, or . It is expected that the system will
experience exponential decay with time in the temperature of a body.

From the definition of heat capacity comes the relation . Differentiating this equation with regard to
time gives the identity (valid so long as temperatures in the object are uniform at any given time):
. This expression may be used to replace in the first equation which begins this section,
above. Then, if is the temperature of such a body at time , and is the temperature of the environment
around the body:


is a positive constant characteristic of the system, which must be in units of , and is therefore
sometimes expressed in terms of a characteristic time constant given by: . Thus, in
thermal systems, . (The total heat capacity of a system may be further represented by its mass-specific
heat capacity multiplied by its mass , so that the time constant is also given by ).

The solution of this differential equation, by standard methods of integration and substitution of boundary conditions,


is defined as : where is the initial temperature

difference at time 0,

then the Newtonian solution is written as:

This same solution is almost immediately apparent if the initial differential equation is written in terms of , as
the single function to be solved for. '

This mode of analysis has been applied to forensic sciences to analyze the time of death of humans. Also, it can be
applied to HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, which can be referred to as "building climate control"), to
ensure more nearly instantaneous effects of a change in comfort level setting.[3]

Mechanical systems
The simplifying assumptions in this domain are:

all objects are rigid bodies;

all interactions between rigid bodies take place via kinematic pairs (joints), springs and dampers.

In this context, the lumped component model extends the distributed concepts of Acoustic theory subject to
approximation. In the acoustical lumped component model, certain physical components with acoustical properties
may be approximated as behaving similarly to standard electronic components or simple combinations of

A rigid-walled cavity containing air (or similar compressible fluid) may be approximated as a capacitor whose
value is proportional to the volume of the cavity. The validity of this approximation relies on the shortest
wavelength of interest being significantly (much) larger than the longest dimension of the cavity.
A reflex port may be approximated as an inductor whose value is proportional to the effective length of the port
divided by its cross-sectional area. The effective length is the actual length plus an end correction. This
approximation relies on the shortest wavelength of interest being significantly larger than the longest dimension of
the port.
Certain types of damping material can be approximated as a resistor. The value depends on the properties and
dimensions of the material. The approximation relies in the wavelengths being long enough and on the properties
of the material itself.
A loudspeaker drive unit (typically a woofer or subwoofer drive unit) may be approximated as a series connection
of a zero-impedance voltage source, a resistor, a capacitor and an inductor. The values depend on the
specifications of the unit and the wavelength of interest.

Heat transfer for buildings

The simplifying assumption in this domain are:

all heat transfer mechanisms are linear, implying that radiation and convection are linearised for each problem;
Several publications can be found that describe how to generate LEMs of buildings. In most cases, the building is
considered a single thermal zone and in this case, turning multi-layered walls into Lumped Elements can be one of the
most complicated tasks in the creation of the model. Ramallo-Gonzlez's method (Dominant Layer Method) is the
most accurate and simple so far.[4] In this method, one of the layers is selected as the dominant layer in the whole
construction, this layer is chosen considering the most relevant frequencies of the problem. In his thesis,[5] Ramallo-
Gonzlez shows the whole process of obtaining the LEM of a complete building.

LEMs of buildings have also been used to evaluate the efficiency of domestic energy systems [6] In this case the LEMs
allowed to run many simulations under different future weather scenarios.
See also
System isomorphism

1. Anant Agarwal and Jeffrey Lang, course materials for 6.002 Circuits and Electronics, Spring 2007. MIT
OpenCourseWare (PDF (
nd-electronics-spring-2007/video-lectures/6002_l1.pdf)), Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
2. Incropera; DeWitt; Bergman; Lavine (2007). Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer (6th ed.). John Wiley &
Sons. pp. 260261. ISBN 978-0-471-45728-2.
3. Heat Transfer - A Practical Approach by Yunus A Cengel
4. Ramallo-Gonzlez, A.P., Eames, M.E. & Coley, D.A., 2013. Lumped Parameter Models for Building Thermal
Modelling: An Analytic approach to simplifying complex multi-layered constructions. Energy and Buildings, 60,
5. Ramallo-Gonzlez, A.P. 2013. Modelling Simulation and Optimisation of Low-energy Buildings. PhD. University of
6. Cooper, S.J.G., Hammond, G.P., McManus, M.C., Ramallo-Gonzlez, A. & Rogers, J.G., 2014. Effect of operating
conditions on performance of domestic heating systems with heat pumps and fuel cell micro-cogeneration.
Energy and Buildings, 70, pp.52-60.

External links
Advanced modelling and simulation techniques for magnetic components (
IMTEK Mathematica Supplement (IMS) (, the Open Source
IMTEK Mathematica Supplement (IMS) for lumped modelling

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