Cooling Electrical Enclosures in Contaminated Environments

cooling_electrical_enclosures_in_contaminated_environmentsElectrical enclosures must be protected from overheating in all applications, including contaminated environments that can cause sensitive components to corrode or fail. In addition to protection from water, dirt, and dust, electrical enclosures can be exposed to salt, chlorine, sulfur dioxide and other chemicals that can potentially damage your valuable assets.

Electrical Enclosures in Contaminated Environments

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has created ratings based on the type of environment electrical enclosures might be exposed to. The spectrum ranges from ratings that provide the least amount of protection for clean, dry environments to those that can handle high wind, washdown environments, and corrosive materials.

Look for the following features in a cooling system for an electrical enclosure in a contaminated environment:

  • NEMA rating 3X – Enclosures and cooling systems that are rated NEMA 3X are suitable for outdoor applications because they are resistant to both extreme weather conditions and corrosive materials such as seawater.
  • NEMA rating 4X – If your electrical enclosure is located in an indoor contaminated environment, a NEMA 4X rating provides watertight protection in washdown applications and corrosion resistance. These types of enclosures can also be used outdoors.
  • Closed-loop cooling – In order to provide the best protection from airborne contaminants and liquids, an enclosure cooling system should create a closed loop that does not allow air from the outside to enter the enclosure.
  • Reliability – Contaminated environments also present challenges for maintenance, filter changes, and routine repairs, which is why it is so important to select an enclosure cooling system that is both reliable and easy to maintain. If ambient temperatures allow, an air to air heat exchanger is the best solution because it requires little maintenance and no filter changes.
  • Programmable controls – When temperature settings must be adjusted, you need the ability to do it quickly and with confidence that they are correct. Programmable digital controls make it easy to check the temperature setting and change it as necessary. You should also look for built-in alarms or alerts to ensure that your equipment is protected at all times. If your  contaminated environment limits personnel access, look for a system with the potential for remote control of settings.
  • Corrosion protection –  When corrosive materials are present, steel housings and copper tubing may be affected.  You should look for the availability of stainless steel housings and coated copper parts to prevent premature failure due to corrosion.

Thermal Edge provides air conditioners and air to air heat exchangers for electrical enclosures in all types of applications, including contaminated environments. We offer closed-loop cooling systems and all of our air conditioners come with programmable digital controllers. Stainless steel housings and electrostatic epoxy coated coils are standard in our NEMA type 4X air conditioners and air to air heat exchangers. Our air conditioners also include an integrated condensate management system so you don’t have to worry about providing drainage or monitoring for leaks.

If you’re interested in learning more about our cooling systems for electrical enclosures in contaminated environments, request a free quote today.