What is Conduction, Convection, and Radiation Relating to Heat?

Contributed by: Sullivan M.
Date of publication: September 30, 2011

Conduction, convection, and radiation are forms of heat transfer. Heat transfer is when heat is transferred to an object.

Conduction is the transfer of heat when the objects or substances are connected such as when a pot is on a stove and the source of heat is connected with the thing it is heating.

Convection is when heat is transferred by an up and down movement. A form of convection is an old light stove that has a fire pit in the bottom and a tubular pipe going up. A hot air balloon is another form of convection. The gas/heat goes up so the hot air balloon goes up.

Radiation is when magnetic waves go through space. The sun is a form of radiation because it brings heat to the earth and the heat travels through space. Another form of radiation is an x-ray machine .

Light stove showing convection.

Modern stove showing conduction

Light stove showing convection

Sun showing radiation

Sun showing radiation

Sources of Heat

Six sources of heat are burning, the sun, and heat from the earth, electricity, and nuclear weapons. A form of electricity is a hair dryer. Also, friction of a car can cause heat and so can heat from the earth, (geothermal heat), such as heat from a volcano. Remember, fire is not the only source of heat.

Interesting Facts

  • Heat conduction can also be called diffusion
  • Sunlight is a form of radiation; it has to travel through 93 million miles of empty space to bring heat to the earth.
  • Temperature and heat are not the same thing.
  • Count Rumford found out that energy=heat.


Conduction: The transfer of heat between substances that are in contact with each other.

Convection: The up and down movement of gasses caused by the transfer of heat.

Radiation: When electromagnetic waves come in contact with each other and make heat.

Heat transfer: The transfer of heat.

Transfer: To remove from one place and to be put into another.

Geothermal: Heat from the earth


"convection." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2011.

“heat transfer” Laurie Jarvis and Deb Simpson. Wisc-Online. Web. 20 September, 2011

Lowe, Lindsey, ed. Introducing Physics Matter, Energy, and Heat. United States of America: Anne O’Daly. 2010. Print.

“photo of an old brick fireplace” 123RF. 123RF. September 20, 2011. Web. 20, September 2011.