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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Which to Choose: Cabinet Coolers Vs. Coolant Driven A/C Units

From ancient times humans have sought ways to cool themselves down, from the invention of the manual fan in ancient times to the modern A/C systems that are used to cool down entire buildings. Anymore these days there is a cooling system for just about anything; gaming PC’s have there own cooling system, personal fans that mist water for cooling down people, climate-controlled boxes for artifacts in museums, etc. But what about your electrical cabinets in your facility? Electrical cabinets that overheat can cause expensive shut downs and lead to unsafe operations where the doors are left open with fans blowing in. When it comes to electrical cabinets there are two well-known ways that are used to cool down electrical cabinets which are fans and A/C units. But there is a third option you can go with which is EXAIR’s Cabinet Coolers.

EXAIR’s High Temp Cabinet Coolers

Cabinet Coolers are compressed air powered cooling units that utilize a source of compressed air and vortex tubes to cool down enclosed areas. But why would you choose a Cabinet Cooler over an A/C coolant driven system? Each system has pros and cons that can be weighed against each other.

A/C Coolant Driven Systems:
Pros:
Can produce higher cooling loads effectively

Cons:
Expensive up front
Constant maintenance

Cabinet Coolers:
Pros:

Inexpensive upfront cost, lower lifetime cost
No moving Parts / No actual maintenance

Cons:
Smaller range for effective cooling

Even in extremely aggressive environments, EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems provide reliable heat protection for your sensitive electronics and controls.

A/C Units operate in most cases using a chemical known as Dichlorodifluoromethane more commonly referred to as Freon (Freon is a registered trademark of Chemours Co.). By compressing and decompressing the liquid you can cause significant temperature drops in the surrounding air that can be blown into an area. This process requires a lot of moving parts that will eventually wear out and need to be replaced at a cost. Cabinet Coolers don’t have that issue, since they use vortex tubes there are no moving parts to wear out. As long as you provide clean dry air to a Cabinet Cooler the system will run indefinitely. Another thing to keep in mind is that although Dichlorodifluoromethane is a safer version of the older CFC’s , the chemical is not completely safe. Freon can be harmful to the environment as it can breakdown ozone, and due to its its density it will displace oxygen and can cause rapid suffocation.

Cabinet Coolers use compressed air, air which we breath and is all around us. So, no hazards with its energy source.

How the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System Works

Lastly, although A/C units are cheaper to run they are much more expensive upfront cost and upkeep cost. This means in the long run it is actually cheaper to use a Cabinet Cooler because it does not have any upkeep cost for maintenance and repairs, along with being much cheaper to begin with.

EXAIR’s Cabinet Coolers are currently on promotion – receive a free AC Sensor with the purchase of any Cabinet Cooler.

Take advantage of our promo today!

If you have any questions or want more information on EXAIR’s Cabinet Coolers or like products. Give us a call, we have a team of application engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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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