6 Ways to Optimize Your Cooling Design
There are several ways to cool electrical enclosures. These include the use of filtered fans, air to air heat exchangers, and enclosure air conditioners. Regardless of the method used, certain techniques are useful for optimizing enclosure cooling design.
These six ways you can optimize your enclosure cooling design are in addition to the essential tasks of calculating the heat load and sizing the cooling system, which are generally done using an online heat load or BTUH calculator.
Allow For Cooling During the Enclosure Design Phase
Although planning for enclosure cooling during the enclosure design phase may seem an obvious step, in practice, it’s frequently neglected. Enclosure cooling is often only considered once the design is complete and assembly has started. An early evaluation of cooling requirements assists with the efficient thermal layout of the enclosure and allows the selection of electrical equipment that’s thermally efficient. This step reduces the heat load and allows the use of a smaller, more efficient cooling solution.
Optimize the Air Flow
Effective enclosure cooling is dependent on the ability of cool ambient air to lower the temperature of heat-generating devices in the enclosure. It’s important to minimize the air resistance in the enclosure by ensuring there are natural paths for the air to flow from the air inlet over the equipment to the exit. If filtered fan cooling is used, the ideal flow is from the bottom front section of the enclosure to the top rear of the enclosure. For closed loop cooling solutions, the air inlet and outlet are usually on the side of the enclosure, and it’s vital to ensure that no equipment is placed where it impedes the air flow.
The layout of the equipment should be considered both from an electrical point of view and from a thermal point of view. Some equipment, such as VFDs, have special requirements and these should be followed. Normally, they need to have a clear space below, to allow air to enter the air intake, and above, to exhaust at the top of the device. They should never be mounted above other heat producing equipment.
If possible, specify a larger enclosure as this will run cooler and it’s easier to lay the equipment out. Try to avoid placing heat generating equipment close together.
It’s important that the enclosure is properly sealed, especially when using a closed loop cooling solution. Even a small air leak can have a significant effect on the efficiency of an enclosure air conditioner. In this situation, the enclosure is normally cooler than the surrounding air and hot ambient air will enter the enclosure bringing with it dirt, debris, and moisture. Air leaks can occur at cable and conduit entry points, through poorly sealing doors, and though loose gaskets between the enclosure and the cooler.
In the case of filtered fan solutions, the enclosure is normally pressurized and an opening will allow hot air to exhaust. However, the exhaust opening should have a filter to prevent dust and dirt from entering when the fan is turned off.
Protection from External Heat Sources
External heat sources can substantially add to the total heat load. Always try to install the electrical enclosure in a cool, dry place. If the enclosure is exposed to the sun, consider fitting shades to protect it from direct solar radiation, and if there are significant heat sources nearby, consider fitting protective baffles or walls to prevent direct radiation of heat. Typical examples of such heat sources would include heating ovens and furnaces that may radiate a significant quantity of heat even when they are insulated.
Employ Appropriate Controls
In order to reduce your overall energy consumption, it’s always good practice to install an air conditioner equipped with a digital controller to ensure it operates only when needed. A controller also protects the system from damage due to malfunctions and provides alarms when necessary.
It’s wise to fit a door kill switch to de-energize an air conditioner when the door is opened for maintenance work. This will prevent the air conditioner from running continuously in a futile attempt to cool and dehumidify the enclosure. Also consider installing remote monitoring to give warning of an unexpected rise in the enclosure temperature.
The benefit of optimizing your enclosure cooling design includes greater reliability, lower energy consumption, and longer equipment life. Consider using Thermal Edge’s energy efficient enclosure cooling solutions to lower the cost of enclosure cooling. If you would like information on optimizing your enclosure cooling, contact our national sales team and our experts will gladly assist you.