Most enclosure designs overlook the critical importance of heat reduction and temperature control. It is extremely important to factor in thermal control when designing electrical enclosures in order to mitigate future temperature issues. It is important to address all factors that could potentially hinder the natural airflow into the enclosure, causing it to heat up.
Below are some of the commonly asked questions about heat and air flow in electrical enclosures.
1. How Does Temperature Affect Electrical Components?
High temperatures within the enclosure affect the electrical components inside. Electrical components have a maximum temperature of 40ºC to 50ºC. Increased temperature within the enclosures affects their lifespan. Some of the electrical components likely to be affected by high temperatures include those that have capacitors.
2. Why Do Industrial Control Panels Heat Up?
More heat is generated through the increased usage of microprocessor- and electronic-controlled gear. The situation is compounded by an increase in waste-generating electronic devices. Besides, having too much equipment inside a control panel with limited space makes the enclosure heat up more frequently.
3. What Happens When Cooling Is Inadequate?
Electrical devices typically function at high temperatures. The devices are rated according to their ability to function at extreme temperatures. You are advised not to exceed the highest recommended temperatures since doing so exposes your device to operational problems. This could result in a drastic reduction of the lifespan of delicate devices.
The precision and accuracy of power supplies, measuring devices, and controllers could be adversely affected. Some devices, especially those that are controlled by microprocessors could malfunction if exposed to extremely high temperatures. They may, however, revert to normal operation when normal temperatures resume.
4. How Do You Keep Enclosures Cool?
There are various methods of keeping electrical enclosures cool. These include vortex electronic coolers, which uses convection. Heat normally move from a higher to a lower temperature material. The enclosures should, therefore, feature strategically positioned vents to provide an escape route for the hot air as cool air moves in.
This method is highly effective for cooling electrical enclosures. Whether you use it or not depends on where the enclosure is located. It is only recommended where the external temperature is consistently lower than that within the enclosure. If you adopt this method, you will have to install filters on vents to keep dirt and dust off the enclosure.
Another method to keep the electrical enclosure cool is by using active cooling, which uses forced convection where passive convection fails. This method is activated by using blowers and fans to cool the enclosure. It operates on the same principle of convection since then fans quickly circulate air within the enclosure to provide much-needed cooling. You can use filters to keep off contamination, but they won’t protect your enclosures from extreme humidity variations. You can also use heat or air conditioning exchangers. When convection fails to cool the enclosure, or humidity is an issue, you could use closed-loop cooling. If humidity is an issue, consider using heat exchangers to effectively cool the air during low temperature environments. You can also use air conditioners in hot environments.
Other electrical enclosures cooling alternatives include fans, which are ideal where ambient temperature drops below the recommended levels. It is always important to remember that fans only expel heat from the enclosure. They should therefore be fitted with filters; otherwise, they won’t dispel heat from enclosures.
Regulation of heat and air flow in electrical enclosures safeguards your electronics and electrical equipment to keep them in optimal working condition. Exposure to extremely high temperatures and heat can drastically reduce the lifespan of your devices or cause them to malfunction.