By Doug Wilson, Noren Products Inc.
Over the past few decades, the use of sophisticated high density electronics within automation and process control panels has become commonplace. Thermal management and its related costs for these electronic enclosures are very important considerations in managing these valuable assets. Choosing the appropriate and most cost and energy efficient cooling solution from the many types available requires knowledge of their individual strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to match that to the operational environment.
Knowledge of the panel equipment manufacturer’s specifications regarding the maximum allowable operating temperature is the starting point in this decision process. Most modern electronics, including common devices such as VFD’s, PLC’s, transformers and relays are designed for internal panel air temperatures between at least 104°F (40°C) up to 122°F (50°C). Common sense dictates maintaining the panel temperature at or below the lowest required operating temperature.