When planning for industrial control panels, designers usually look first at ways to save on product costs. While initial cost savings may be important, it’s reliable and trouble free operation that will save money in the long run.
Industrial control panels are extensively used for the control of complex machines. Due to diverse requirements that include the distribution of power to the machine and the measurement and control of various inputs and outputs, a wide variety of electrical equipment is used.
It is generally accepted that industrial control panels need some form of enclosure cooling to ensure that internal temperatures do not exceed equipment-safe working limits. In most instances, the heat load is such that the panel needs to be, at the very least, fitted with cooling fans. However, due to a desire to prevent equipment becoming contaminated by dirt and dust, closed loop solutions are often specified. Here’s how to assess the right cooling solution.
When assessing what kind of protection is needed for an industrial control panel enclosure, there are five key factors to consider. These are ambient temperature, humidity, pollution, weather and dust. Once the effects of these factors are adequately assessed, it’s a relatively simple task to evaluate the type of enclosure that’s required and decide how to manage the internal temperature. Here’s how these five key aspects affect enclosure cooling.
When selecting an industrial control panel, it’s essential to give careful consideration to the environment where the panel will be installed. The ambient temperature, humidity, risk of exposure to water, snow or ice, and the presence of chemicals all have an impact the on specification of the enclosure and how it is cooled.
Before finalizing the specification for the enclosure, it’s crucial that these environmental variables are assessed and their impact evaluated. Although there are a number of aspects to consider, they can be conveniently grouped into six categories. Continue reading
Control panels are designed to house and protect electrical components for powering and controlling industrial, HVAC, and other equipment. Industrial control panels may include PLCs, VFDs, contactors, fuses, switches, transformers, timers, and other components, each of which operates within an optimal temperature range. Continue reading
Mistakes can be costly when it comes to enclosures housing industrial control equipment. Not only are the individual components, including variable frequency drives (VFDs) transformers, and power supplies, expensive to repair or replace, but they control the equipment upon which the entire operation of the facility depends.
There’s no getting around it. Critical electrical equipment housed in industrial control panels requires operating temperatures low enough to maintain efficiency and reliability. Without a properly sized cooling system, components such as VFDs, motor starters and PLCs are susceptible to reduced capacity, malfunctions or even premature failure, which can result in expensive downtime as well as unplanned repair and replacement costs.
Control panel designers face an ongoing conflict between meeting the technical requirements for electrical control panels and budget allocations. On the one hand, there’s the desire to choose generously sized control panels that optimize the layout of electrical equipment and, on the other, the need to exercise tight cost restraints that inevitably mean compromises are made. There’s also the need to consider the space that’s available in the plant as well as the environmental conditions that are present.
One of the biggest challenges is to manage the enclosure temperature and ensure the heat distribution inside the control panel is such that equipment temperatures are kept within specification.
Industrial control panel designers often overlook the importance of effective enclosure cooling. For this reason, many panels are designed for natural ventilation and insufficient consideration is given to the combined effects of ambient temperature and enclosure heat load. This results in an inability to maintain the cabinet’s internal temperature at a safe level.