Here’s what the Freon-based Air Conditioner Manufacturers Won’t Tell You

Many times when we are asked to make a comparison of our Cabinet Cooler Systems to Freon-based Cooling Systems for electrical panels, the customer only wants to know what the energy consumption will be as this is their only focus.

But what most Freon cooling system owners don’t seem to be concerned about, until it is too late, is the maintenance headache that Freon-based cooling systems present to their maintenance schedule, personnel and production schedule.  Below is just one example of what a typical industrial Freon-based Cabinet Cooling system user must go through each month just to keep their panels cool enough to keep production going.

A Freon cooling system user contacted me about a problem they have with their existing units. The setting is a machine shop located somewhere in Indonesia where the temperatures can exceed 40°C and Relative Humidity Levels around 85%. They have 4 units keeping a bank of panels cool for a transfer line which includes CNC machining centers. Photo showing coolers installed below.

AC 3 and 4 Cleaning (6)
Freon Panel Coolers on Transfer Line

The problem they have is that the dirt, dust and coolant which are present, deposit on the internal workings of the Freon Coolers, reducing their cooling efficiency to a point where over-heat condition becomes a problem. This occurs so frequently that the customer is having to completely remove and clean all 4 Freon cooling units for a full 8 hour shift, 1 day every month. That’s almost 3 weeks of lost production per year!  Obviously, that is a huge drag on the customer’s productivity.

IMG_1708
Dirt and Coolant collect on inside reducing cooling efficiency

And so, a certain amount of buyer’s remorse pervades for those folks who own and have to maintain Freon system just to keep their production up and running.

So, what does EXAIR offer?  EXAIR’s Cabinet Cooler Systems offer the customer freedom from all of this downtime, maintenance and loss of productivity. How?

  1. We are selling reliability with our Cabinet Cooler systems. No maintenance is required on the cooler system or on the cabinet to which it is installed. Because there are no moving parts to wear out. A simple, periodic check on a compressed air filter element is all that is necessary.
  2. We are selling the fact that our Cabinet Cooler Systems maintain a positive pressure on the customer’s panel. This condition keeps all of this dirt, coolant spray and any other contamination out due to the positive pressure that is placed on the panel while the Cabinet Cooler System is operating. Air is always moving from inside the panel to the outside, so dust, dirt and other debris never has a chance to enter through vents or other openings.
  3. We are selling longevity with our Cabinet Cooler Systems. Because there are no moving parts, the life span of EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems is in the range of 20+ years. The Freon based systems operating under these mildly harsh conditions will last 5 years at most. So in the life span of one EXAIR Cabinet Cooler, the Freon cooling system user will have been through at least 4 different units during that time. And still have all the monthly maintenance hassle come along with it.

The general point I wish to make with this real-world example is to think about the total cost of ownership when considering your next panel cooling system purchase. It is not all about energy consumption. Energy use is important, but by no means should that be your only consideration when deciding on what type of panel cooling system is right for you as the person charged with keeping the overall production line up and running.

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
@EXAIR_NR

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