Ambient Temperature Considerations When Choosing an Enclosure Cooling Unit

electrical-enclosure-ambient-temperatureOne of the primary factors that informs what type of enclosure cooling unit to use is the ambient temperature, which is the temperature of the air surrounding the enclosure. In some applications, the ambient temperature might be steady year-round, while in others it can vary seasonally or with the type of activity surrounding the enclosure.

When deciding which type of enclosure cooling unit to select, the highest likely ambient temperature is typically used to ensure that the components inside the enclosure are always sufficiently cooled.

Outdoor Enclosures

The two main factors to consider with outdoor electrical enclosures are the ambient temperature and inclement weather conditions. The ambient temperature is subject to seasonal changes, so it’s important to research the typical high temperatures in the area. You must also consider solar heat gain when the enclosure is not shaded.

Because of weather conditions such as rain, snow, and wind, a closed-loop system is always recommended for outdoor applications. In areas where the ambient temperature will always be below the enclosure temperature, an air to air heat exchanger is a cost-effective cooling system. However, if it is possible that the ambient temperature will rise above the enclosure temperature, the only viable solution is an enclosure air conditioner.

Indoor Enclosures with Relatively Low Ambient Temperatures

Electrical enclosures that are placed indoors often experience more predictable ambient temperatures. When that temperature is steady and always lower than that inside the enclosure, a filtered fan or air to air heat exchanger are possible solutions.

A filtered fan should only be used when airborne contaminants are not a concern. When it’s possible that dirt, dust, water, or corrosive vapors will be present, an air to air heat exchanger should be used to protect the components inside the enclosure.

Indoor Enclosures with High Ambient Temperatures

When ambient temperatures will be higher than inside the enclosure, the most appropriate enclosure cooling unit is an air conditioner. This closed-loop system also protects electrical components from airborne contaminants while reducing the temperature inside the enclosure.

Regardless of which type of cooling system you select, it is always important to choose a properly sized unit. Work closely with your provider to calculate the required cooling load so you don’t mistakenly choose a cooling system that is either under-sized or over-sized.

If you need help selecting an electrical enclosure cooling unit, Thermal Edge has the expertise you need. We’ll work with you to determine the highest likely ambient temperature, the heat load in the enclosure, and the required cooling load for the unit. Contact us today to learn more.