Plasmon-resonant nanoparticles are being integrated into a variety of actuators, sensors and calorimeters due to their extraordinary
optical capabilities. We show a continuum energy balance accurately describes thermal dynamics and equilibrium temperatures
in plasmon-resonant nanoparticle systems. Analysis of 18 data sets in which temperature increased ≤10.6 °C yielded a mean
value of R2 > 0.99. The largest single relative temperature error was 1.11%. A characteristic temperature was introduced into a linear
driving force approximation for radiative heat transfer in the continuum energy description to simplify parameter estimation.
The maximum percent error of the linearized description rose to 1.5% for the 18 sets. Comparing the two descriptions at simulated
temperature increases up to 76.6 °C gave maximum relative errors ≤7.16%. These results show for the first time that the energy
balance and its linearized approximation are applicable to characterize dynamic and equilibrium temperatures for sensors,
actuators and calorimeters containing nanoparticles in microfluidic and lab-on-chip systems over a broad range of heat-transfer
lengths, power inputs and corresponding temperature increases.