Electrical enclosures are designed to withstand a variety of environmental concerns and application requirements. So when an enclosure is built to safeguard heat-sensitive equipment and it is located in a toasty environment, a cooling system is vital. A variety of enclosure cooling systems are available these days, and they can prevent overheating, offer energy-efficient cooling, and maintain a cool and consistent temperature year round.
Options & Features
To ensure you’re selecting the best cooling system for your enclosure, compare your options and their features carefully. When shopping for electrical enclosure cooling systems, one of your primary considerations should be the enclosure’s temperature range. What range can the equipment tolerate? In addition, consider the energy efficiency of the system. To this end, many products come with smart features that allow for automatic temperature control. And if you want to be green, avoid systems that use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs), other chemicals, or oil. In addition, consider the systems’ reliability, maintenance, size, portability, orientation, noise, and cost (initial cost and operating cost).
Enclosure Cooling Systems
Vortex coolers are inexpensive, leave a small footprint, and don’t require much maintenance. They produce cold air from compressed air, and they can fit in many small enclosures that wouldn’t otherwise be able to hold a cooling system due to size restrictions. The cooler uses a vortex tube, which rotates the compressed air, pushes it through the center of the generator, and and allows it to exit via the exhaust port. Although economical, vortex coolers can be noisy and require compressed air.
Thermoelectric Air Conditioners
Reliable and requiring little maintenance, thermoelectric air conditioners can provide both cooling and heating. They utilize the “Peltier Effect,” passing a current through two dissimilar conductors to absorb or release heat depending on the direction of the current flow. These cooling systems can be mounted and operated in any orientation, and they may be a cost-effective cooling solution for your enclosure.
Compressor-Based Air Conditioners
Compressor-based systems offer a higher cooling capacity, but this benefit can only be achieved through a higher level of maintenance. In addition, compressor-based air conditioners have a static orientation and remain stationary in their position. They rely on a basic principle: fluid heats up when compressed and cools down when expanded. To maintain your compressor-based AC, you will need to change the filters regularly and recharge the refrigerant.
Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers (Heat Pipes)
Air-to-air heat exchangers, while low maintenance and inexpensive, cannot cool below ambient temperatures. They use evaporative cooling to transport thermal energy, and often a fan is used to move the air and circulate it within the enclosure. Although they can’t cool the air to below ambient without additional cooling support, they can work in applications where the electronics only need to be cooled to slightly above the outside ambient temperature.
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