It’s HOT! Not Just Outside

It’s Summer, it’s hot, and just about everywhere that sees the sun here in the US is currently pretty warm. This isn’t breaking news to anyone here in the Midwest, but it is also increasingly muggy and humid. I know this because the condensate drain on the A-Coil within my home HVAC system has been dripping more and more water down through the drain line and into the floor drain. I’ve also been watering my outdoor plants more and more frequently due to the lack of rain we have had the past month. At home, my HVAC system pulls moisture out of the air and lets it condense then pushes it down a drain. Out of sight and out of mind for most homeowners. In a manufacturing plant, that isn’t always the case because many have no climate control for their machine and production areas.

When I was in metal cutting, it was not uncommon for me to walk into a shop during the summer to repair a machine that had a thermal trip. Most of these machines that I worked on had simple air-to-air heat exchangers to cool the electrical cabinets which have a minimum of three variable frequency drives in them as well as a controller, many other relays, and circuits. Most machine shops I went into were also not climate controlled. The machining processes would build a mist and dust throughout the facility which would settle. The fan intakes would often not be maintained, and the cabinets would eventually overheat. Often, rather than cleaning the fans, the operators or maintenance would simply open the electrical panel doors and put a box fan blowing into the open panel, so they could finish cutting their parts.

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

While this would put the machine back into service it would also pull in all that warm humid air from the shop that was filled with the metal fines, oil mist, and other dirt. This would then blanket the inside of the panel and all the open circuit boards. Some of the drives would even have fans on them from the manufacturer to keep the inside cool which would just internally coat the surfaces with oil, dust and debris. Then, after that job was done, it would just roll into the next job because the “fix” was working just fine. Well, after a while of the machine running like this, the buildup settling onto the boards and internal fans coating the inside of the drives the machine would generally go down again and this time they couldn’t apply the same fix of opening the doors again. This is when I would get the call and have to deliver the bad news that I now have to clean and inspect all the boards and drives. Then, when we would get finished, the cycle would start over unless the customer took to heart that the fans have a much-needed preventative maintenance cycle, or they would have the fans removed and install a Cabinet Cooler System.

The advantage of the Cabinet Cooler System is that the panels stay sealed and maintain their NEMA rating all while receiving less than ideal maintenance intervals. In fact, the Cabinet Cooler itself has no moving parts and the only maintenance is to ensure the compressed air filter is clean and clear. This option would often result in fewer calls for overheated machines. I am fairly certain it may impact the sale of box fans to these machine shops. At the very least, the operators get to keep the fans for cooling themselves off rather than blowing into an electrical enclosure.

If you have seen an open electrical enclosure with fans blowing into it, then you know exactly what I am talking about. I hope you understand that an EXAIR Application Engineer can help you prevent that safety violation as well as a general, all around bad idea for the health of the components inside the cabinet.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

The EXAIR VariBlast Precision Safety Air Guns

Handheld air guns are something that you can find in nearly any and all manufacturing facilities that have compressed air within them. Suppose they are not at every operator station because the machines don’t require compressed air. In that case, they are generally found at the very least within the maintenance department where they are continually keeping the facility functioning.

Don’t let this happen to your air gun…use an EXAIR Precision Safety Air Gun with a quiet, efficient Super Air Nozzle instead.

These handheld guns are easily overlooked for being safe and efficient for the operators to use. Often, the cheapest gun possible is also the most costly regarding ownership and operation. These are just a few of the reasons EXAIR designed the VariBlast Precision Safety Air Gun.

VariBlast® Precision Safety Air Guns 2022 Professional Tool & Equipment News PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD WINNER

The ergonomic design fits well in any sized hand and the long trigger makes for easy use with up to the four-finger engagement. The integrated loop allows the tool to easily hang on a tether or hook near an operator station. The optional Chip Shield adds additional protection for the operator and can be adjusted to any location along the extension. The extension pipe is offered in three different lengths, 6″ 12″, or 20″ overall length. Each one of these components is also field replaceable in the event one becomes damaged.

There are three different models of Super Air Nozzle available at the end of the extension in two separate materials. You can purchase the Atto, Pico, or Nano Super Air Nozzle in either stainless steel or PEEK thermoplastic for more sensitive applications. These nozzles coupled with our engineered valve design permit the user to vary the amount of air coming out of the gun by pulling the trigger to a higher flow or pulling it slightly and letting less volume of air through.

If you want to discuss whether the current air gun you use meets or exceeds OSHA standards and how much air it may use versus what an EXAIR VariBlast Precision can do for you, please contact an Application Engineer today.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Customized Cooling

Have you ever walked through a production facility and actually looked at and in electrical cabinets? If you did, you would find very few that are identical and even ones that are similar sizes; the internals can be drastically different. When I was in the metal cutting industry customizing, installing, and servicing CNC machines, the same model machine may have different drives for an extra option and can easily add additional heat load to the panel. Bring this up because it’s time we talk about how the dimensions of a panel are not enough to select the level of cooling needed.

Some manufacturers of air movers and “traditional” enclosure cooling method devices will use merely the dimensions of a panel to estimate a heat load and then treat the panel for the worst case scenario. Sometimes it may even be a worst-case scenario for that size of panel. I’m here to tell you from experience that’s not always the best option. This is why we like to have additional information, an “inside man” on the panel, if you will. We want to know exactly what kind of air temperatures we are seeing so that we can use that information combined with some math to determine an acceptable heat load that needs to be dissipated.

The information permits us to size the Cabinet Cooler system for your exact panel; even if you have two that are the same size but one of them has some additional drives or circuits running through it, we can account for that. The reason it is essential to size each panel that has anything different in it is that all devices have some level of efficiency. So the power they consume isn’t 100% converted into their intended function. This results in some level of heat generation. That means different internal components, and different heat loads, easy as that.

This is one of the reasons we took so much care when designing and refining our Cabinet Cooler Calculator. Each variable will impact the heat load and model selection for the Cabinet Cooler System. Some major factors, such as solar heat load and cabinet color, are even accounted for when panels are located outside. We even account for existing fans that will need to be removed to seal the panel. This is because all of these factors directly affect the amount of cooling needed.

Suppose you are looking to cool down some electrical cabinets throughout your facility and want to fully understand what heat load you may need to dissipate and maintain a safe operating environment; check out our Cabinet Cooler Calculator, or contact an Application Engineer today. In that case, we can size the system while we are talking on the phone with you.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Father’s Day Weekend & Leak Detection

In case you didn’t know, yesterday was Father’s Day. In our household, both Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are pretty low-key, and we normally just get some much-needed family time in. This year for Mother’s Day we prepared the patio and outdoor living space at our home for the Summer activities. For Father’s Day, the schedule was a little different. My wife and oldest had a play to go to in the early afternoon and I had a list of repairs to do as well as some recovery from a dodge ball tournament on Saturday. While most of my repairs were things like fixing a leaking hose, unpacking from the tournament, and weeding the garden, I did not have any major repairs on my list which meant I could take the younger two daughters and head to the pool. That ice-cold water definitely helped with the recovery part of my day, so we went. Met the rest of the crew after their show and had some nice ice cream time then home. I was feeling pretty good as my tasks were all completed, and I was going to be able to just enjoy the meal my wife had fixed for dinner and play some games with my girls. Well, the house had other plans, we arrived home to a thermostat that had crept up while we were gone.

Ice from the compressor line in the condensing coil.
While the leak detector wasn’t out, there was no shortage of thermometers being used here along with a slide rule. (Leak Detection had been completed.)

Now, our HVAC system has limped along for probably a decade longer than most, and we continue to regularly maintain it. This is a true testament to how well preventative maintenance can truly expand the life of an item. Needless to say, during my routine inspection and maintenance at the start of the year, we found the unit was low on refrigerant. One of the first steps we performed when we saw it was starting to freeze up was to begin testing for leaks. This task takes a special gas detection meter that will sniff out the refrigerant vs. just air movement. Sure enough, we found a corroded joint in the A-Coil that has developed a fairly considerable leak. This tool made me think of the Ultrasonic Leak Detector that we sell here at EXAIR. It also made me start to correlate how a leak in a refrigeration system can cause the entire process to ice over because there isn’t enough refrigerant present and so the entire system begins to work harder and harder and the coil temp drops below freezing. The humidity in the air begins to collect on the A-Coil inside the house because the coil is so much cooler than the humid air around it and the ice starts to form. Once the ice forms you restrict the airflow through the coil which causes more ice to form and eventually no airflow happens and the entire compressor line will freeze. This often can lead to other failed parts if not discovered early enough. How is this like a compressed air system?

Well, leaks in a compressed air system cause the compressor to work overtime. It drops efficiency within the other items in the system which creates a lack of performance and potentially shuts down the system. Leaks can be found by utilizing a less specialized, Ultrasonic Leak Detector which can be seen in operation in the video below. Fixing these leaks can easily put capacity back in and save additional maintenance and replacement costs.

If you want to discuss how the Ultrasonic Leak Detector can save you money and costly shutdowns, contact an application engineer today.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer