Environmental Conditions for Using Electrical Enclosure Cooling Fans

environments-suited-for-enclosure-cooling-fansCooling fans for electrical enclosures are an excellent solution for applications in which extreme temperatures or certain other environmental factors are not an issue.

Applications for Enclosure Cooling Fans

Electrical enclosures are rated by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, or NEMA. The NEMA rating can help decide which type of cooling or heating system you should use to control the temperature of the enclosure.

Enclosure cooling fans are typically recommended for units with a NEMA rating of 1 or 3R. Some examples of environments where cooling fans are appropriate include:

  1. Moderate ambient temperatures – Cooling fans can only reduce the temperature of the enclosure so much. They are a good economical choice when the enclosure temperature can be slightly above ambient.
  2. No airborne particles – Dust and other contaminants can damage electrical equipment if they are allowed to enter the enclosure. An indoor manufacturing environment that does not have airborne particles is suitable for a NEMA 1 enclosure woth cooling fans.
  3. No airborne oil – In addition to dust, oil droplets in the air can settle on electrical equipment and potentially cause damage if it is not protected. When airborne oil is not a factor, enclosure cooling fans may be an appropriate solution.
  4. Limited humidity – When the environment does not have excess humidity in the air, rain, or other dripping water, a cooling fan may be sufficient. If water is a potential environmental factor, a 3R shroud may be recommended. In more extreme environmental situations, cooling fans are not recommended.

In general, cooling fans with a NEMA rating of 1 or 3R are suitable for clean indoor environments with moderate ambient temperatures. For outdoor environments, 3R rain shrouds can be added to protect the equipment from water.

The advantages to using cooling fans are that they are effective (in the right application) and economical. However, enclosure cooling fans are not always the best choice, especially when the ambient temperature has the potential to rise significantly or if air contamination might be an issue. In these cases, a closed-loop heat exchanger or air conditioner might be a better choice.

If you need help deciding which enclosure cooling fans are right for your application, ask the experts at Thermal Edge. We work with a broad range of industries to provide electrical enclosure heating and cooling, so we have the expertise to ensure that you make a smart decision. Contact us today for your free quote.