An Examination of Comfort and Sensation for Manual and Automatic Controls of the Vehicle HVAC System 2019-01-5005
The fast-changing and asymmetrical nature of the cabin environment challenges climate control systems in maintaining occupant comfort. This article examines the relationship between the control that occupants have over the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and their perceived comfort within the surrounding thermal environment. Three test cases using automatic control (20°C, 22°C, 24°C) and one in manual mode were evaluated via driving trials under normal road conditions in the United Kingdom during winter. In these trials, car cabin occupants felt more comfortable when using manual control than automatic (Fisher’s test, p = 2.2 × 10−16). Occupants felt neutral thermal sensations at head and foot level when using manual control. At chest level, occupants felt thermally neutral for both automatic and manual controls. This research highlights the need for further exploration of the interaction of the cabin occupants with their HVAC systems and the impact it has on their comfort perception.