Shrinking size of power and control electronics such as VFDs has enabled manufacturers and panel builders to place more devices in the control panel resulting in higher panel density. A consequence of this phenomena is increasing heat levels in the panel which has focused greater attention on the issues that inevitably come with higher heat levels. Three out of 10 panels, on average, are experiencing overheating problems.
Our white paper, Thermal Management Considerations for Reducing Control Panel Temperature Levels, examines the various issues experienced in actual applications, and solutions that have been implemented to address overheating problems.
It’s well known fact that heat is an enemy of electronics. At 90 degrees F ambient temperature, the life expectancy of electronics can be shortened by as much as 50%. For every additional 18 degree F increase in temperature, the life expectancy of electronics is reduced by half.
According EECO personnel familiar with industrial power and control applications, shortened life expectancy or outright failure is less problematic than the unpredictable performance and nuisance tripping experienced in overheating conditions.
The white paper addresses the following subjects –
- The effects of overheating on electronics
- Control panel ratings
- Electronic components failure
- Some ‘false solutions’ to overheating
- Typical overheating applications
- Cooling solutions
Also addressed are some of the costs associated with overheating including replacing failed VFDs and related components. It compares the cost of adding cooling to existing control panels versus replacement. A variety of cooling solution types is also briefly addressed because every situation is unique requiring cooling appropriate to the application.
Additionally, the whitepaper looks at false solutions that customers have attempted. As ambient temperature levels rise, temporary solutions are implemented to reduce heat levels – often with less than desirable consequences. Customers, eager to keep their facilities operational, have on occasion compromised electrical safety and sensitive electronics without addressing the underlying problem.
Getting a thermal management program started
The important point in assessing the current state of control panels is to understand whether a problem exists and – with three out of 10 panels experiencing overheating – how many panels are affected, and at what level. Obvious problems are logged. What is more significant is identifying which panels are experiencing overheating, but haven’t caused problems yet.
The best way to get a an accurate view of potential overheating problems is with a thermal audit, which is easily performed using a hand held heat sensor. Operations are not impacted by the audit, and customers get audit data that can then be used to justify the investment in cooling solutions, where warranted.
Download the Thermal Management White Paper for complete information.