The Negative Effect of Hot Ambient Conditions on Traditional A/C Refrigerant Panel Coolers vs EXAIR Cabinet Coolers

EXAIR’s High Temp Cabinet Cooler Systems

As summer endures and temperatures continue to rise panel conditioning units can start to struggle to keep your electronics cool.  An agricultural company contacted EXAIR as they were having some issues with their air conditioning panel cooler.  The increase in outside temperatures caused the air conditioning systems to underperform.  The electronics were overheating and shutting down production.  They needed a better way to keep the internal circuits cool during the hotter months of summer. 

They sent in the information on the A/C panel that they were using (reference photo below).  I circled the important factors that we would need.  EXAIR is familiar with these tags as we helped many customers to find a more reliable way to keep their electronics cool.  This customer stated that they had already replaced three units in the past 10 years.  The one above has been in operation for only 3 months, and they were still worried about failure.  It could be due to lack of maintenance, dirty environment, or high ambient temperatures, but the short life of the refrigeration units was a major concern. 

From the placard, the total cooling capacity was DIN EN 14511 L35 L35 0.38KW as circled above.   The DIN EN 14511 is a European Standard that rates the performance of air conditioning units.  The first L35 is the temperature rating for inside the panel, 35oC.  The second L35 is the ambient temperature, 35oC.  The cooling capacity at those temperature conditions is 0.38KW, or 1,296 BTU/hr.  As you can see, the performance was measured with the ambient temperature at 35oC (95oF).  If the ambient temperature goes above this standard rating, the cooling capacity of the air conditioning unit will start to decrease.  With the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems, we use the internal temperature as 35oC (95oF) as well, but our external temperature can be as high as 93oC (200oF).  Here is a diagram showing the range of the different types of cooling devices as compared to the ambient temperatures and the environment.

Another note on the placard is the IP Code – IP54; and “Maintains the environmental integrity of type 12”.  EXAIR offers three different NEMA ratings to keep the integrity of your panel.  We offer NEMA 12, NEMA 4 and NEMA 4X.  The rated voltage for the A/C panel cooler is 115 V / 60 Hz / 1-.  EXAIR offers three different voltages with our solenoid valves to work in conjunction with our thermostats.  We have 240Vac, 115Vac, and 24Vdc.  So, from the information supplied by the A/C panel cooler, we are getting close for a recommendation.  What do we need next?  The ambient temperature condition which affected the A/C panel cooler.  I need this information to calculate the heat load on the hottest day of the hottest month. 

In the Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide that we sent to them; they marked the “Maximum external temperature possible” at 130oF (54.4oC).  As seen in the chart below, this is the upper limit for the performance conditions for an A/C unit.  With the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System, we can offer a High Temperature Cabinet Cooler that can work up to 200oF (93oC).  And, they will still operate under the harshest of environments.  With the size of their panel, the external heat load was calculated at 980 BTU/hr.  Remember, since we are replacing the A/C panel cooler with an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System, we will need to add the 0.38KW or 1,296 BTU/hr to the external heat load.  The total heat load is measured at 980 BTU/hr + 1,296 BTU/hr = 2,276 BTU/hr

Since we now have all the information, I recommended a model HT4340 Cabinet Cooler System.  This system has a NEMA 12 Cabinet Cooler, a filter, a cold air distribution kit, a thermostat, and a 115Vac solenoid valve.  The cooling capacity for the HT4340 is 2.800 BTU/hr; above the required 2,276 BTU/hr maximum heat load.  So, when the internal temperature reaches 95oF (35oC), the thermostat will turn the solenoid off to save compressed air.  This Cabinet Cooler System fit the criteria as noted on the placard on the A/C unit for replacement. 

HT4340 Cabinet Cooler System

With they received the model HT4340, they were amazed at how small and compact the unit was.  The Cabinet Cooler does not have any moving parts, Freon, or condensers to clean.  They only need clean compressed air.  The installation was also very simple.  It took them longer to remove the A/C unit than to install the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler.  They were able to start using the Cabinet Cooler in less than one hour.  They also commented to me about how they wished that they knew about the Cabinet Cooler Systems 10 years ago.  The breakdowns, the replacements, the maintenance, and the headaches that the A/C units delivered cost them much money in material and production shutdowns. 

If you have electrical panels over-heating or air conditioning units under-performing, you should try an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System.  You can fill out the Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide and an Application Engineer will find the best model to keep your operations running; even during the summer months. 

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Electrical Panel Heat Protection: Limitations of Fan Cooling

In preparation for some labor-intensive outdoor projects, I did some research into heat-related health risks, and their prevention. My first thought on prevention was getting someone else to do it, but my wife made a good case for “pride in ownership”, and I DO have a good many tools suitable for these projects. Also, I am notoriously frugal, so after getting a couple of estimates, I realized the value in a little DIY (do it yourself) and commenced planning.

High on that list of risks was the possibility of heat stroke. It’s recommended that the victim be taken to a cool space (someplace air conditioned, for example). Air flow (like from a fan) can help too, but only if they’re taken someplace where the ambient temperature is less that 95F (35C). If it’s that hot, the air flow can actually make things worse, since heat transfer requires a difference in temperature. If the cooling medium (air, in this case) is the same temperature as the object to be cooled (the human body, in this case), no heat will be transferred – and the heat stroke wins. That’s a bad day in the back yard.

This is, in fact, the exact same limitation with a popular method of electrical panel cooling: fans. We’ve been using mechanical methods of imparting motion to air for cooling purposes for a long, long time: Blowing on a spoonful of soup or a cup of coffee before a warm (but not scalding) sip, waving hand fans at oneself during indoor gatherings, installing electric fans in those same buildings, and the list goes on. Fans are inexpensive to purchase & operate, come in a variety of sizes & configurations, and are oftentimes used to circulate cooling air through occupied rooms, confined spaces, and, of course, electrical & electronic panel enclosures.

These are quite effective for panels with moderate-to-high internal heat loads, as long as the ambient area temperature is less than the temperature you wish to cool the panel’s internal air to. In those situations, the only real concern is the quality of the air in the environment. As you can see in the photo to the right, filters are an absolute “must”, and they’re going to require regular maintenance. This means cleaning or replacing the filters, as well as cleaning the fan grills and blades themselves. It’s still very likely that some of that dust is going to get inside the enclosure, and while we’re on the subject of environmental contamination, so will humidity. I probably don’t need to tell you that dirt and/or water, and electricity, don’t mix.

There are other methods of cooling (panel a/c, thermoelectric coolers, water cooled heat exchangers, heat pipes, etc.) that limit environmental contamination, but they’re still going to need periodic (oftentimes frequent) attention: filters will clog, refrigerant coils will get fouled and corrode, moving parts will wear, motors & switches will burn out, etc. Even with the advances made in refrigerant technology, the leaks that panel a/c and heat pipes are prone to are still bad for the environment.

If this sounds like your environment, and you’re looking for safe, dependable, durable heat protection, look no further than EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems. Using the Vortex Tube phenomenon, they generate cold air from your compressed air supply, with no moving parts to wear or electric devices to burn out. Systems are on the shelf & ready to ship in cooling capacities to 5,600 Btu/hr. We also “tailor-make” systems for higher heat loads, from stock products, that can usually ship right away as well. Once installed on a sealed enclosure, the only thing the internals of that enclosure are ever exposed to again is clean, moisture free, cold air. All of our Cabinet Cooler Systems come with an Automatic Drain Filter Separator – the only preventive maintenance that’s ever required for the systems is the periodic replacement of the filter’s particulate element.

Inside, outdoors, high temperature, dirt/dust/humidity, corrosive and classified environments are no problem for EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems

We can quickly and accurately specify a Cabinet Cooler System to meet your needs with just a few key pieces of information – you can fill out a Sizing Guide (or complete one online) and send it in to us, or you can call an Application Engineer with the data. It only takes a minute to do the calculations, and we do them over the phone all the time. Installation is straightforward and usually only takes a matter of minutes. We have a number of short “how to” videos on our website that cover all aspects of installation, and if you ever have specific questions or concerns, an Application Engineer is a phone call away. We look forward to hearing from you!

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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UL Certifications Explained

If a product or device carries one of these markings, it’s been evaluated for safety by top professionals in the field.

You probably walked by many items in a department store that had a UL mark, and not even noticed.   What does this mark mean?  The Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a third-party organization that verifies that products are safe for use.  They have been around for more than 100 years, and they are very important for checking the design of electrical systems.  In order to receive the UL stamp, it has to pass stringent tests for conformance and safety, and they register the items on a database for users to review.  EXAIR uses this service for our products.  EXAIR stands behind our products with the Underwriters Laboratories recognition.  I will go over the products that EXAIR manufacturers and the type of UL marks that we have. 

There are three main types of UL marks; UL Listed, UL Recognized, and UL Listed Classified. 

UL Listed:  All EXAIR Cabinet Coolers are UL Listed!  It is important to note that EXAIR was the first to ensure that your electrical panel’s NEMA rating remained when using our Cabinet Cooler Systems.  Our products underwent numerous tests and scenarios to verify that an operator will be safe during normal operations.   The tests for the Cabinet Cooler Systems included environmental exposure for the given NEMA type along with many other tests.  When you place a Cabinet Cooler onto your electrical panel, the degree of protection is not affected.  Our Cabinet Cooler Systems come in NEMA 12, NEMA 4, and NEMA 4X.  They are designed to keep the electrical components inside cool; stopping unnecessary shutdowns from excessive heat.  With the UL listed mark, the Underwriters Laboratories have deemed these products safe for operation throughout the US and Canada per their standards.  

UL Recognized:  The Gen4 Static Eliminators and Power Supplies are UL Recognized.  UL Recognition is most often seen with components, in a form of power supplies or circuit boards, that are used to power other parts. UL Recognition ensures the safety and efficiency of machinery used by operators. In other words, it certifies that a component within a larger instrument meets UL standards.  The Gen4 Power Supplies are used to generate ions with our Gen4 Static Eliminators.  These ions will remove any type of static that can cause jams, misalignment, and harmful shocks.  We offer two types of Power Supplies, a two port and a 4 port, to operate eight different styles of Static Eliminators.  And together, you can make sure that your operators are safe when using our products to remove static nuisances.    

UL Listed Classified: The UL Classified certification means that the product has been evaluated, tested and passed the test for being safe when installed within classified areas. This includes a large range of hazardous locations which according to OSHA is defined as an explosive atmosphere due to the presence of flammable gases (Class I), combustible dusts (Class II), or ignitable fibers and flyings (Class III).  Unlike the Cabinet Coolers above, the HazLoc Cabinet Cooler went through a more stringent test to operate in all classified areas.  Used with a purge system, the HazLoc Cabinet Cooler keep the electronics from faulting due to over-temp. 

Here are our registration number with UL for you to review:

Cabinet Cooler Systems:                                        E182292

Static Neutralizing Equipment:                             E138256

Hazardous Locations Cabinet Cooler Systems:     E498880

It is widely known that machines are the lifeblood of any business. Taking steps to protect your investment and your operators that use the equipment is essential for long-term success of a company.  The UL certification will give you that peace of mind.  Lastly, since UL is a third-party service, you can be confident that the UL label is a true sign of safety and longevity within electrical systems.  If you would like to discuss more about our UL listed products for removing static or cooling electronics, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you. 

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Non Hazardous Purge Cabinet Cooler Systems

Last fall, when our youngest “flew the coop” and moved into a dormitory to begin his college experience, my lovely bride and I also embarked upon an exciting adventure: finding, purchasing, and moving in to our “empty nest” dream house.  While packing up the contents of the house where we had raised a United States Marine AND a hippie college student, I moved my trusty laptop from its perch on a desk in a dark basement corner, where it had resided, in that one spot, for more than a couple years.

As I was looking for its carrying case, I noticed the fan grill was almost completely obscured with more than a couple years’ worth of environmental contamination (or dust).  I vacuumed out the grill, but wondered how much more environmental contamination (dust) had made its way into the deep recesses of the laptop…and more importantly, what might it be doing to the sensitive electronics inside my trusty internet browsing device?

If a computer’s fan in a residential environment can get this dusty, imagine how much worse a control panel on a factory floor can get.

I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but electronics and dust don’t mix.  We have this conversation a LOT with callers inquiring about our Cabinet Cooler Systems.  The protection they offer against environmental contamination is integral with the protection they offer against heat.  In the panel cooling market, our Cabinet Cooler Systems are unique in that respect: a total protection solution.

When properly installed on a sealed enclosure, the only thing the inside of that enclosure is ever exposed to is cold, clean, moisture free air.  But what if the enclosure can’t be completely sealed?  One option is to use a Continuous Operation Cabinet Cooler System.  It works just as the name implies:  cold air is continuously flowing into the enclosure, creating a constant purge flow…if that cold air is blowing out of any openings in the enclosure, there’s no way for environmental contamination to get in.  Problem solved.

Well…almost.  Something else I’m sure you already know is, compressed air is costly.  Organizations like the Compressed Air & Gas Institute (CAGI) and the Compressed Air Challenge (CAC), who are devoted to optimizing industrial use of compressed air, have lists of “inappropriate uses of compressed air”, and panel cooling is on that list…EXCEPT when they’re thermostatically controlled.  At EXAIR, we couldn’t agree more, and if a caller asks any of us Application Engineers about a Continuous Operation Cabinet Cooler System, they’re inviting us in to a conversation about that.

Sometimes, the initial question is cost…well, we have to pay for the components that make up the Thermostat Controls, so we ask our customers who want those products to as well.   A quick conversation about the operating cost of continuous operation vs thermostat control is usually all that’s required in those cases.

Other times, a panel that can’t be sealed is installed in a particularly dusty or dirty environment, and they want the continuous flow of cold air, as described above, to keep those contaminants out.  A Continuous Operation Cabinet Cooler System will, of course, do that.  But EXAIR wants you to get the most out of your compressed air use, so we developed a “best of both worlds” solution: Non-Hazardous Purge Cabinet Cooler Systems.  Here’s how they work:

  • Based on a few key pieces of data that you can submit in our Cabinet Cooler Systems Sizing Guide, we’ll specify the appropriate Cabinet Cooler System to manage that heat load.
  • The system will be thermostatically controlled: a bimetallic Thermostat, mounted inside the panel, will open and close the Solenoid Valve plumbed in the compressed air supply to operate the Cabinet Cooler as needed to maintain temperature inside the panel.
  • The Solenoid Valve is modified to pass a small amount of air flow (1 SCFM) even when it’s closed.  This saves you from using the full rated air consumption of the Cabinet Cooler when cold air isn’t required, and still maintains enough purge air flow to prevent environmental contaminants from entering a less-than-ideally-sealed enclosure.

Whatever you do, DON’T do THIS to your panel.

The Non-Hazardous Purge option is just one way that EXAIR Corporation can help you address specific environmental challenges that may be presented in electrical and electronic panel cooling applications.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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