6 Times a Cabinet Cooling Fan Will Be Insufficient


The cabinet cooling fan is an efficient and affordable solution to your enclosure thermal management problems. However, it is not an ideal solution for all scenarios. There are conditions in which the cooling fan will not be able to handle your cooling requirements.

1. If the Ambient Temperature is Too High

Cabinet cooling fans operate under the principle of forced convection. These devices can bring down the temperature of the enclosure to slightly above ambient temperature. If the ambient temperature of your location has the capacity to sometimes reach values higher than the maximum allowable operating temperature of your equipment, cabinet cooling fans are insufficient for your application.

2. If Your Equipment Produces Too Much Heat

Cooling fans are designed to dissipate low to moderate amounts of heat. Their ability to remove heat is limited by the ambient temperature and the airflow they provide. Modern day electrical equipment often produces more heat than a conventional cabinet cooling fan can handle. When equipment produces too much heat, fans are not able to sufficiently replace hot air in the enclosure with cooler ambient air.

3. If the Environment has Dispersed Particles

Dust, dirt and other particulate contaminants in the air can prove to be detrimental to the normal performance of electrical equipment. A filtered fan can offer limited protection to electrical equipment until the filters get clogged. Filters cannot remove all contaminants from the airflow without limiting the air flow rate. Environments with a high level of airborne particles result in frequently clogged filters that can interfere with normal airflow through the fan. Cooling fans are incapable of handling polluted environments.

4. If the Humidity of the Environment is High

Cooling fans are inadequate for environments that are humid or have dispersed oil. Oil and water droplets can settle on equipment and cause failure through short circuits or corrosion. While cooling fans can be equipped with 3R shrouds to protect equipment against rainwater, they have little ability to remove moisture and oil from the air.

5. If the Configuration of Equipment Inside the Enclosure is Too Dense

The principle of role of a cabinet cooling fan is convective heat transfer from hot equipment surfaces by air. If the airflow is impeded by obstructions within the enclosure, some regions may not be exposed to convective heat transfer. These regions have a higher temperature than others and are called “thermal hot spots”. Some hot spots can be eliminated by optimizing the airflow for the layout by using multiple fans or adding an internal circulating fan within the enclosure. However, not all of them can be removed by making changes to the cabinet fan configuration or rerouting air flow.

6. If the Ambient Air is Potentially Harmful

Environments such as coal mines or petrochemical processing plants require thermal management solutions more sophisticated than cabinet cooling fans. Ideally, the air inside the enclosure needs to be isolated from the potentially harmful air that can damage electrical equipment. Cabinet cooling fans rely on forcing the ambient air through the enclosure to remove heat from the equipment and are therefore unsuitable for this application. A NEMA 4X enclosure with a suitable air conditioner serves the purpose for these applications.

To find out if your application can use cabinet cooling fans and learn more about alternate thermal management solutions, contact our experienced sales team at Thermal Edge.