Tale Of The Tape: EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems vs. Air To Air Coolers

As summer heat continues to rise, so does the volume of inquiries we get for EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems.  Many callers want to know what differences they can expect in using our products versus other methods they’re considering…or even using…right now.

One very common method is the use of a fan to draw cooling air into the panel, from the surrounding environment.  This is the simplest, and least expensive option, but it has two main drawbacks:

  • Components inside the panel are now exposed (albeit in a controlled manner) to the very same environmental elements that putting them inside a panel was supposed to protect them from.
  • Since the air surrounding the panel is the cooling medium, the temperature inside the panel will never be lower than the temperature outside the panel.  Fan cooling in hot environments will still allow overheating.
If a computer’s fan in the family room can get this dusty, imagine how much worse a control panel on a factory floor can get.

Two key benefits of EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems take direct aim at these drawbacks:

  • Once properly installed on a sealed enclosure, all the air entering the enclosure comes from your compressed air supply.  It’s also been through the Automatic Drain Filter Separator that comes with every EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System, so it’s clean and moisture free.
  • The air generated by the Cabinet Cooler is refrigerated, thanks to the Vortex Tube phenomenon.  It doesn’t matter how hot it is in the area; the air going into the panel is about 50F colder than the compressed air supply.  
Cold air from your compressed air supply, with no openings to the environment, eliminates any environmental effects on cooling capabilities.

Fans are one of the two methods of “air to air” cooling – the other is a closed loop system commonly known as a heat pipe:

*Hot air (inside the panel) causes refrigerant in heat pipe to flash to a gas.
*Cold air (from the environment) causes the refrigerant to condense to a liquid.

While this eliminates the environmental contamination concerns of dirt & humidity, it’s still limited.  Just like fan cooling, this method cannot make it cooler inside the enclosure than the ambient temperature in the surrounding area.

Despite this limitation, heat pipes (first column, below) are generally quite cost effective.  But, considering a total cost of ownership difference of less than $15/year, it’s clear that EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems, which aren’t limited by ambient temperature, are a strong contender for favorite selection.

Reliable, durable, and cost effective: the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System.

EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems provide up to 5,600 Btu/hr worth of cooling power.  Regardless of your environment (even Classified/Hazardous locations,) we’ve got a system to keep your electronic and electrical panels safe from heat, humidity, and contamination. If you’d like to discuss enclosure cooling and the benefits of EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Computer Fan image courtesy of tico_24 Creative Commons License

Class I Div 1, Groups A, B, C, and D – Explained

There are a number of hazards to be considered when using electrical equipment in areas where flammable, combustible, or explosive elements do (or might) exist.  The National Electric Cod (NEC) has a system to delineate areas by Class, Division, and Group, based on the specific nature of the hazard.  There are three Classes, each with two Divisions, and a number of Groups that may apply to each of those Divisions.  Today, we’re going to learn about Class I, Div 1, and the Groups that EXAIR HazLoc Cabinet Cooler Systems are designed for use in.

“Class I” simply means that ignitable concentrations of flammable gases, vapors, or airborne liquids can exist under normal operating conditions.  Examples of such areas include:

  • Refineries
  • Distilleries
  • Fuel storage facilities
  • Spray paint/coating booths

Now, not every single square foot of such areas have ignitable elements in the atmosphere all the time; Class I just means they can have them.  This is where the Divisions come in.

“Div 1” means that these ignitable elements can exist during normal operations, as opposed to “Div 2” which means it’s possible, but not likely.  A good example of the difference here might be a paint booth: inside a paint booth, normal operation is DEFINED as volatile liquid (paint) being discharged into the atmosphere in a spray of fine droplets – hence, that would be Class I, Div 1.  The area adjacent to the paint booth should only have that spray of fine droplets in the air if, say, the exhaust hood of the paint booth failed, or if an operator inadvertently sprayed paint outside the booth, etc…any event or condition that’s possible, but not likely – hence, that would be Div 2.

Not only are hazardous areas classified by Class (nature of the hazardous material,) and Division (likelihood of existence of it,) but they’re further delineated by the type of hazardous material, and these are sorted into Groups.  For Class I (gases, vapors or airborne liquids,) four Groups are applicable.  Materials fall into these groups (with one exception) based on two properties:

  • Maximum Experimental Safe Gap (MESG) – this is a standardized measurement of how easily a gas flame (produced by the ignition of the material) will pass through a narrow gap, bordered by heat-absorbing metal.  
  • Minimum Igniting Current (MIC) ratio, which is the ratio of the minimum electrical current required to ignite the material, by the minimum current required to ignite methane under the same conditions.

Group A is the above mentioned exception.  Because acetylene, of all hazardous materials detailed across the different groups, results in the most violent explosion when ignited, it gets a group all to itself.

Group B is for flammable gases, liquids, and vapors with a MESG less than 0.45mm, and a MIC ratio of 0.40 or less.  Hydrogen, butadiene, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide, and acrolein are popular examples of such materials.

Group C materials have a MESG less than 0.75mm and a MIC ratio less than 0.80 (but greater than 0.40, which would put it in Group B.)  Carbon monoxide, ether, hydrogen sulfide, morphline, cyclopropane, ethyl, isoprene, acetaldhyde and ethylene are some good examples.

Group D consists of all other flammable gases, vapors & liquids with MESG’s over 0.75mm and MIC ratios greater than 0.80.  Gasoline, acetone, ammonia, and benzene are common examples.  Methane is also in Group D, which gives perspective on the materials in the other Groups, which all have a fractionally lower Minimum Igniting Current than methane…the lower the MIC ratio, the lower the current needed for ignition, and therefore, the placement in a more restrictive Group.

EXAIR HazLoc Cabinet Cooler Systems are engineered and approved for use in Class I, Div 1, Groups A, B, C, or D environments.  If you have an electrical panel that needs heat protection in such an area, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Enjoy this Summer by Avoiding Heat Related Electrical Problems with Cabinet Cooler® Systems

For many of us, summer contains some of the most enjoyable months coming up in North America. Summer typically brings more time spent outside, basking in the sunshine, lemonade, iced tea, grilling, gardening, fishing, hiking etc.

These enjoyable hot summer months coming upon us can also bring some elevated temperatures within electric control panels – but we have a simple and effective solution to avoid any heat related shutdowns and interference with electrical systems.  EXAIR can eliminate these with our Cabinet Cooler Systems, you just get on with the grilling and basking in the sun.

With freon based coolers, higher ambient conditions make them less effective; and opening the electrical panel to have a fan blow inside creates a dangerous electrical hazard.  For every 10 oC rise above the operational temperature, the life of an electrical component is cut in half.  To reduce loss in production and premature equipment failures, it is important to keep your electrical mechanisms cool.  The EXAIR Cabinet Coolers are designed to do just that.

How the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System Works

How does the Cabinet Cooler work? 

Cabinet Coolers are powered by an EXAIR Vortex Tube which only uses compressed air to generate cold air.  They do not have any moving parts, Freon to leak, or refrigerant compressors to fail.  These simple, but effective, cooling devices can be used in the toughest of environments.  With the Vortex Tube as the “engine”, the reliability of the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler is unmatched and makes it an easy choice for cooling electrical panels.

What NEMA ratings does EXAIR offer? 

To match the same integrity as your electrical panels, EXAIR offers three different types of NEMA ratings that are UL listed and CE compliant.  NEMA 12 is dust and oil tight, and can be related to the IEC standard, IP54.  NEMA 4 is dust and oil tight as well as splash resistant for indoor and outdoor use.  The NEMA 4X is the same as the NEMA 4 except it is made of stainless steel for corrosive areas and aggressive wash-down environments.  Both the NEMA 4 and 4x corresponds to an IP66 rating.  EXAIR Cabinet Coolers are easily installed and can match your electrical panel to keep the electrical components safe inside.

What size Cabinet Cooler do I need? 

EXAIR makes it easy to get the proper cooling with the Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide.  This guide goes over the important information to determine the external and internal heat loads.  It also indicates the proper NEMA type and electrical requirements for easy installation. The cooling power ranges from 275 BTU/hr to 5,600 BTU/hr, and with the filled-out form, we can make sure that the correct model is used.

Thermostat- Controlled System

What types of systems are offered? 

EXAIR offers a continuous operating system and a thermostat-controlled system.  The continuous operating system includes the selected Cabinet Cooler, a filter, and a cold air distribution kit.  The system will continuously cool until it is manually or automatically turned off.

The thermostat-controlled system is the most efficient way to operate a Cabinet Cooler.  This system comes with the selected Cabinet Cooler, filter, cold air distribution kit, a thermostat and an electrical solenoid valve.  The system is designed to operate only when cooling is needed.  The thermostat controls a solenoid valve, and it is preset at 95°F (35°C).  The thermostat can be easily adjusted to match other desired temperatures.  The solenoid valves come in three different voltages, 120Vac, 240Vac, and 24Vdc (which ever voltage is easily accessible).  With the thermostat-controlled system, you do not have worry about the system operating during off-peak conditions or cooler seasons.

EXAIR NEMA 4X 316SS Cabinet Cooler System with Electronic Temperature Control installed on control panel in a pharmaceutical plant.

What other options does EXAIR offer with the Cabinet Cooler Systems? 

For better temperature control, EXAIR can replace the standard thermostat and solenoid valve with the ETC, or Electronic Temperature Control.  It is a digital temperature controller with a LED screen for precision monitoring and adjusting.  The controller has easy-to-use buttons to raise or lower the desired internal cabinet temperature.  Once set, the ETC will hold the temperature to +/- 1 oF (+/- 0.5 oC).  The LED displays the internal temperature for continuous monitoring.  The ETC comes complete with the controller and a solenoid valve in two different voltages, 120Vac and 240Vac.  The ETC is a great option for real-time accurate measurements for your panel cooling.

Another option that EXAIR offers is the Side Mount Kit.  They are used to mount the Cabinet Coolers on the side of the electrical panel.  They are manufactured to match the NEMA rating of the Cabinet Cooler.  If you have limited space, don’t worry.  The Side Mount Kits gives you more areas to mount the Cabinet Cooler to your electrical panel.

What about harsh environments? 

  • With elevated ambient temperatures like near ovens, the high temperature version would be your option. The HT Cabinet Coolers work in temperatures from 125 oF to 200 oF (52 oC to 93 oC respectively).  With refrigerant coolers, the elevated temperatures make it very difficult to cool effectively.  But with the EXAIR HT Cabinet Coolers, the high temperature will not affect the ability to blow cool air.
  • If the environment is extremely dirty with lint, fibers, debris, etc., EXAIR offers an NHP, or Non-Hazardous Purge, version. The solenoid valve is designed to allow 1 SCFM of compressed air into the panel to keep a slight positive pressure. With the NHP Cabinet Coolers, the ingress of any fine particles into your electrical panels are eliminated.
  • For food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and corrosive type of applications, EXAIR can offer NEMA 4X Cabinet Coolers made from 316SS material. With the high corrosion resistance, the 316SS Cabinet Coolers will continue to operate without degrading in tough environments.
  • In Class I, Class II, and Class III hazardous areas, EXAIR has the HazLoc Cabinet Coolers. They are UL classified and can work with X-type and Z-type purge systems for the thermostat-controlled system.  The solenoid valves are also designed to be located in these areas with the same three different voltages.  The Hazloc Cabinet Coolers can be sold as a continuous operating system as well.

    Model 7929 EXAIR AC Sensor – FREE to end user customers when purchasing ANY EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System

Electrical shutdowns are expensive and annoying.  If you have interruptions from high internal temperatures, EXAIR Cabinet Coolers are a great solution.  They can be installed quickly and easily.  With no moving parts or costly preventative maintenance needed, they can operate for decades in keeping your electronics cool.  For our U.S. and Canadian customers, we are offering a promotion.  You will receive an AC Sensor, a $58.00 value, for free as a promotional item from now until the end of August 2020 with a qualified purchase.  How can you not give them a try?  If you have any questions about Cabinet Coolers or the Sizing Guide, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be happy to help.

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

Temperature Fluctuations Damage Control Panels. EXAIR’s Cabinet Coolers are Here to Save the Day!

It’s a longstanding joke for anyone that lives in the Cincinnati area that we can experience all (4) seasons in less than a week. This past weekend, we topped out at a high temperature of 83°F. This morning when I left the house it was a cool, crisp 37°F. With temperatures later on this week dropping below freezing, we’ve gone from the heat of summer to the cold of winter all in less than a week. These uncertain temperature fluctuations create all sorts of problems for farmers and home gardeners (like myself) as we struggle with determining the best time to plant (and rushing to cover up anything that’s already been planted!). Additionally, extreme temperature fluctuations can also cause significant issues for the electrical panels in your facility.

cc fan
Don’t open your panels to dirt and dust!

During times of high heat, the temperatures inside of these enclosures can reach dangerous levels. The use of fans, or worse opening the panel door, does help to keep the temperature down. But this can create even more issues. When using a fan or opening the panel door, you expose the sensitive internal electronics to any dirt, dust, debris, and even moisture from the ambient environment. Fortunately, maintaining a safe temperature and clean environment inside of your enclosure is simple.

cchowani

EXAIR’s Cabinet Cooler Systems were designed specifically to rectify these issues within your facility. Utilizing Vortex Tube technology, the Cabinet Cooler produces cold air from an ordinary supply of compressed air. This cold air keeps the enclosure free of debris and moisture and is easily installed in minutes through a standard electrical knockout. The Cabinet Cooler Systems are available in Aluminum, 303 Stainless Steel, and 316 Stainless Steel construction with Nema 4 (IP66) ratings. We also have Nema 12 (IP54) rated Cabinet Coolers that are available constructed of Stainless Steel. For systems that are not able to be mounted on top of the cabinet, we also have Side Mount Kits available in Aluminum, 303 Stainless, and 316 Stainless.

These systems are available with cooling capacities of anywhere from 275-5,600 Btu/hr. To make things much easier for you, we offer a Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide that will allow us to recommend the most suitable model for your cabinet. With a few quick measurements, we’ll be able to determine the exact heat load that we’ll need to dissipate and offer you a quick and easy solution. If you’re experiencing heat related issues somewhere within your facility or remember the troubles that they caused you last year, contact an Application Engineer today and we’ll see to it that this summer your cabinets remain cool!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD