An Advantage of Vortex Tube Based Cabinet Cooler Systems

Today, I begin publishing the first in a series of blog posts about some common misconceptions of vortex based cooling. The primary focus will be cooling electrical panels, but we may touch on a few other application for vortex tubes as well.

A Cabinet Cooler System is a low cost, reliable way to cool and purge electronic control panels or small enclosures. The EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System incorporates a vortex tube to produce cold air from compressed air without any moving parts.

VT
How a Vortex Tube Works

 

I want to take on the most difficult myth first. I was attending a compressed air conference recently where Cabinet Cooler Systems were listed as a waste of compressed air. Saying Cabinet Cooler Systems waste compressed air is like saying automobiles waste gas. A ’74 Dodge Monaco station wagon was best served to haul 8 kids to Florida and use three times the gasoline of (4) 2014 Honda Civics, but the automobile was driven everyday on that 15 mile work commute.  Comparatively, a 5,600 BTU/HR Dual Cabinet Cooler System without a thermostat, cooling an enclosure the size of a shoebox, is a waste of compressed air. Using a properly sized, thermostat controlled Cabinet Cooler system upon an enclosure will protect your company from thousands of dollars in equipment damage and hours of downtime caused by heat damaged electronics – this is not a waste of compressed air. I understand what the presenter wanted to say, and like anything else, if the product is not sized right or installed improperly it will not operate as efficiently as it could. Cabinet Cooler systems do not waste compressed air, they utilize compressed air.

nema12thrmocntrsys
The components of a NEMA 12 Cabinet Cooler System w/ thermostat control.

 

One of the places where Cabinet Cooler Systems shine are dirty, dusty environments where maintenance to air conditioners costs thousands of dollars in replacement parts and man hours every year.  Take one look at the troubleshooting guide for these units and you will find a litany of items that need to be replaced: evaporator coils, motors, wheels, compressor, or capacitor. In many cases, this replacement needs to be done by an outside contractor, which only adds to the cost.

Vortex based cooling improves on air conditioning in dusty or dirty environments in two ways. A vortex based cabinet cooler has no moving parts to wear out or be replaced. The units have been known to last for more than two decades. This lack of moving parts means that a dusty environment will not have an operational impact on the Cabinet Cooler Systems. Secondly, Vortex based coolers can create a positive pressure inside a sealed enclosure. This positive pressure can prevent dust from entering that cabinet. Dust inside of cabinet will cover heat sinks, chip sets, and internal fan blades to prevent air movement and insulate hot parts from heat transfer. If you are comparing a vortex based cooler to a fan in a dusty environment, the vortex based cooler will be pushing dust out of the pipe. The fan will be pulling dust in to the enclosure. The dust pulled in by the fan will lower the cooling capacity of the fan and limit the heat transfer from the heat sink or the circuitry of the device.

I wrote a bit more about this first myth than I intended. This may turn in to a ten part series, if I keep going like this.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
@EXAIR_DW
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com

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