On average 3 out of 10 enclosures require thermal cooling.
Why be concerned with thermal management of electrical enclosures? Based on statistics, 30% of operating systems are being heat stressed, resulting in poor performance, premature failure, and erratic operation. Nuisance drive tripping often comes to mind when thinking about enclosure heat, but the problem goes way beyond drives. Heat stress derates industrial electronics and causes erratic operation that can affect loop controllers, PLCs, and even IO integrity. We have even heard complaints of power supplies stressed to where AC ripple dramatically increases, resulting in cascading problems.
But the need for thermal management of electrical enclosures is certainly not new, so why has it become such a hot topic?
Electrical components are being stressed more than ever
Engineering trends have placed more powerful electronics into smaller and smaller packages. The density of modern electronics in smaller cabinets intensifies heat . Think about the size of VFDs and power supplies today versus those of the mid-90s. Manufacturers package product in smaller footprints because it reduces costs. These smaller packages are not conducive to thermal management (user friendly terminal blocks for that matter). With increasingly harsh environments and conditions, cooling and thermal management is now a primary consideration when working with electrical enclosures.
Excess heat absolutely shortens the life of industrial electronics, related devices, and electrical insulation such as that in electric motors.
A 10⁰C rise in operating temperature reduces life by 50%.
Thermal cooling systems can be installed to combat excess heat
Incorporating thermal cooling within an enclosure will increase life and reliability. This is true for both new and existing systems (which can be easily retrofitted). Enclosure temperature can be quickly assessed and compared to component ratings. Most electrical components are fully rated to 40°C, or 104° F, so ensure your enclosure is operating beneath that temperature. Temperatures should be checked during peak heat load times, such as the hotter months of the year and under peak load conditions.
Thermal audits can help identify thermal threats
A thermal audit can be conducted to efficiently assess many enclosures. These audits are noninvasive, requiring only external access to the enclosures. Many enclosures can be easily assessed using an infrared temperature probe.
Once problems have been identified, cooling systems can be installed to keep temperature within design guidelines. This will increase life and reliability, ultimately generating cost savings.
Adding thermal cooling devices to correct enclosure temperature
There are many types and configurations of thermal cooling systems. With any application there are several decisions to make. Do you need a fan, heat exchanger, or conditioner? Open loop or closed loop operation.We highly recommend consulting the Hoffman selection guide on thermal management products. Two primary products to consider are:
This is an ideal type of cooling which creates a more reliable system and improves equipment life cycle. The Hoffman Spectracool line is an excellent choice.
This is an ideal type of cooling for smaller enclosure applications where compressed air is available.
For information on the Hoffman Thermal Management Products, Download the Hoffman thermal management overview.
To learn more about thermal management of electrical enclosures or related products and services, contact our team at 800.993.3326 or visit the articles below: