A heat radiation equation contains 4 th exponential order of temperature which makes mathematics analysis complicated and time-consumption. Most heat transfer experts and scholars believe, based on their own experiences, that the heat radiation effect can be ignored in situations of small temperature difference between duct surfaces and surroundings. This paper studies in detail for complete heat transfer characteristics of a circular duct with heat radiation effect taken into account. It is found that, in some practical conditions, the heat radiation effect can not be ignored especially in cases of lower ambient convection heat coefficients and larger surface emissivities, as well as the smaller the duct size and/or the greater the duct conductivity and/or internal fluid convection coefficients, even though the temperature-difference between inner and outer fluid-temperatures of duct is low to 1 °C. It is found that the conventional LMTD method (ignoring heat radiation) cannot be applied to calculate the total heat transfer rate of a single-duct heat exchanger located in ambient air, such as condenser and evaporator.