Heat Management in Electrical Enclosures

Electrical enclosures are prone to many hazards that trigger significant damage to electronic and electrical components present inside. One of them is heat. The air that is enclosed in a space can heat up rapidly. When the phenomenon occurs in an electrical enclosure it damages the equipment present inside and shorten its lifespan. The condensation that is formed as a result cause short circuits, rust and other problems. Additionally, the sensitive components that is present in an electrical enclosure could face potential damage due to fluctuations in internal temperature.

There are different cautions that are practiced by the engineers during the phase of design and installation to alleviate the high-end damage to the electrical enclosures and to the equipment.

  1. Site for the enclosures is selected to keep it away from direct sunlight, heat sources, etc.
  2. The locations where there are temperature fluctuations must be avoided, such as in kitchens or near furnaces if possible
  3. The damp or humid areas can damage the equipment so stay clear of damp areas, waterside locations and places where steam or water splashes are possible
  4. Do not make enclosures with electrical equipment taking all the spaces; instead, make sure there is enough room to allow a free flow of air
  5. Apart from ensuring the space inside, there should be enough space around the enclosure for air circulation
  6. If an enclosure is installed on a wall, it is necessary to provide an airspace or heat sink between the wall and enclosure
  7. Some electrical equipment will generate heat when in use. Identify such materials and provide extra space as well as decide appropriate position such as near the top of the enclosure and, if appropriate, provide ventilation
  8. Before placing lid seals, keep it in mind that they will restrict ventilation and heat dissipation
  9. Forced draught or even water-jacket cooling is essential in some cases
  10. Always seek an advice from experts on thermal management issues so they will be able to do detailed calculations and provide optimum recommendations

The material used in the construction of an enclosure also provides an idea about heat generation. For instance, metal enclosure will conduct more heat than the plastic ones whereas bare metal conduct more heat than the painted metal enclosures. But plastic material is better at resisting ambient temperature rise whereas metal ones are better at dispersing internally generated heat. Additionally, rate of heat generation and dissipation depends on surface area as well as environmental factors. Extra seals may prevent some external threats but in turn may produce more heat than usual. Similarly, more heat may escape from the top rather than through the bottom. All these factors call for an expert advice who can look up to standardized tables, graphs or software to provide reliable answers.

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