Whenever an electronic unit situated within a control panel stops functioning because of an overheating problem, it’s often a challenge to pinpoint exactly which element is causing the trouble. There could be an irregular heating pattern in a VFD (variable frequency drive) that doesn’t show up during diagnostic tests, or the overheating issue might only arise while operating at full efficiency on extremely hot days. Thankfully, regardless of the primary cause, cabinet cooler systems — also known as vortex coolers or hazardous area cabinet coolers — can regulate temperatures inside the box at a pre-programmed level, which prevents overheating and inactivity due to maintenance.
Designing a Cabinet Cooling System
To determine heat loads, cabinet cooler designers look at the elements within a common control panel. They interview users about units like VFDs (which can cause erratic temperatures) and fans (which work to eliminate heat, but often blow unwanted dirt and dust particles into the spaces they’re intended to cool).
Fans are of particular importance, since installing a cabinet cooler will require the removal of all exterior wall fans, and their empty spaces will have to be sealed (although interior fans can remain where they are at). This means that cabinet cooler builders must factor in any extra heat created by the removal of the fans, no matter how minimal it might seem to be.
To accurately figure out just how much heat a fan removes from an enclosure, designers must first take into account the diameter of the fan, which tells them the standard air flow volume in CFM, or cubic feet per minute. With 1 BTU (British thermal unit) per hour being the necessary amount of heat for elevating the temperature of a pound of water by a single degree on the Fahrenheit scale, it’s also the level of heat required to raise or lower the temp of a cubic foot of air by 1°F per minute. Consequently, for each CFM the fan moves, they’ll need to lessen the air temperature by a degree. In other words, they’ll remove 1 BTU per hour for each °F multiplied by each CFM the fan moves at.
Sealing the Fan Holes
To seal the empty fan holes properly, they must be patched with sheet metal using mechanical fasteners, caulking, duct tape, or another specialized sealing method. Whatever the preferred solution, these gaps must be well-covered and sealed to ensure temperature stability.
The Need for a Professional Touch
While the process of swapping out standard fans for vortex coolers can save businesses a lot of time and money, it is also a complex process and certainly not a do-it-yourself job. It requires the help of professional application engineers to carefully make all of these involved measurements, and then to install the most ideal vortex coolers for each particular area based on the numbers.