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In-Situ Measurement of the Moisture Content of Building Materials Using Ultra-Wideband Radio Waves



William M. Healy


A study was carried out to determine the feasibility of commercial, off-the-shelf, and potentially low-cost ultra-wideband radio hardware to serve as a measurement tool for the moisture content of materials making up a building envelope. The study involved an examination of both energy reflected from the assembly and energy transmitted through the assembly from equipment that emitted energy with a center frequency of 4.7 GHz and a bandwidth of 3.2 GHz. The reflected energy was found to be the best measure of moisture content, but the inconsistent nature of the waveforms captured indicate that the precision of the technique could be improved. Tests on single panels of oriented strand board, plywood, and gypsum board showed that a linear trend was found between the reflected energy and moisture content of the two wood products, while the range of moisture contents in the gypsum boards was insufficient to have any appreciable effect on the signal returned. Transmission data showed even greater scatter than reflection data. The ability to independently measure the moisture content of several layers with a single scan was also examined, but the data were so scattered that it does not appear to be possible using the hardware and techniques used in this study. Despite the disappointing results, it is felt that the use of hardware that is more appropriate for this application could result in a technique that could potentially help determine the in-situ moisture content of materials within a building envelope.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings| 3rd| International Building Physics Conference
Conference Dates
August 28-31, 2006
Conference Location
Montreal, CA
Conference Title
International Building Physics Conference


building envelope, moisture, ultra-wideband


Healy, W. (2006), In-Situ Measurement of the Moisture Content of Building Materials Using Ultra-Wideband Radio Waves, Proceedings| 3rd| International Building Physics Conference, Montreal, CA, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created August 1, 2006, Updated February 19, 2017