8 Fallacies about Industrial Cooling Equipment You Should Forget
Some maintenance staff are skeptical about industrial cooling equipment and regard it as a waste of time. They reason that modern electrical equipment is robust, well designed, and doesn’t need cooling. As an example, they may point to the use of high temperature electronics found in motor vehicles and assume that industrial electronics are equally robust.
This is not necessarily the case. The truth is that industrial electronics are not designed to the same standards.
This is just one of a number of fallacies about industrial cooling equipment that inhibit rational decision making. Here are eight more fallacies to guard against:
1. It Doesn’t Matter If Equipment Gets Hot
Modern electrical equipment contains many solid state devices, and although the technology exists to manufacture these with high temperature capabilities, in practice this is not the case. The maximum temperature of many devices is limited to temperatures often no higher than 104 °F (40 °C). In addition, the service life of electrical equipment is very dependent upon its temperature.
2. Enclosure Air Conditioning Is Overkill and Not Needed
Engineers who are used to electromechanical equipment are skeptical about air conditioning and regard it as a waste of time. However, modern electrical enclosures are packed with electronically controlled equipment such as VFDs and PLCs, which generate a lot of heat. If that heat is not removed, the equipment will overheat. Air conditioning and other enclosure cooling systems are necessary to ensure electrical equipment can be safely operated within its thermal limitations.
3. Cooling Fans Reduce Enclosure Temperature
It’s frequently assumed that fans cool equipment. That’s only true in that fans can reduce the temperature of an enclosure that’s hotter than the ambient air temperature. Using cooling fans on a panel in very hot weather may only have a limited, if any, beneficial effect.
4. A Bit of Dirt Never Harmed Electrical Equipment
For numerous technical reasons, electrical equipment is rarely completely sealed. Dirt can get between contacts, leading to open circuits on low voltage circuits and contact burning on mains AC circuits. Conductive dirt can also bridge between live parts, resulting in a flashover or short circuit. Finally, excessive layers of dirt can insulate electrical equipment, inhibiting its ability to radiate heat.
5. Sealed Cabinets Are Always Dry
While sealed cabinets prevent the ingress of water, should the enclosure temperature drop so that the walls and other equipment of the cabinet reach the dew point temperature, moisture in the air will condense on these parts. This water has the potential to cause damage to equipment and result in an electrical short circuit. That’s why heaters are often installed in enclosures.
6. Ventilation Inhibits Mold
It’s often assumed that ventilation will prevent mold forming inside electrical enclosures. That’s not true. If the relative humidity is high, mold will form. The only way to prevent this is to reduce the humidity by drying the air. The most effective method is to use an enclosure air conditioner.
7. Enclosure Air Conditioners Are Unreliable
It’s not uncommon to find broken enclosure air conditioners, especially in older plants, leading to a view that they’re unreliable. This is not necessarily the case. By purchasing from reputable suppliers and ensuring that enclosure air conditioners are properly certified by a National Testing Laboratory such as UL, you can be sure you’re buying quality equipment.
Then, it’s important the equipment is monitored and maintained. Make sure the enclosure doors are kept closed, and if necessary install an open door kill switch. Consider using remote monitoring to give early indication of any problems. Like other industrial cooling equipment, a certain level of preventative maintenance is required for reliable operation.
8. Filters Are Not Required On Ventilated Enclosures
The task of checking air filters on industrial cooling equipment may be neglected, leading to the perception that they always block up and are a waste of time. If filters block frequently, consider high capacity filters. It’s important to maintain these filters to avoid dirt and dust contamination of electrical equipment that could lead to failure or faulty operation. If air conditioner filters block frequently, consider high capacity filters.
Get the Facts
Don’t be put off by fallacies, get the facts. Industrial cooling equipment plays an important role in modern electrical control and distribution systems. Talk to the experts, and get the right information so that you can protect your electrical enclosures with properly designed and applied industrial cooling equipment.