Mean Time Between Failures, or MTBF, is an important metric to consider when selecting a cooling system for an electrical enclosure. Air to air heat exchangers, air conditioners, and filtered fans are all viable solutions for enclosure cooling, but they have different advantages and disadvantages depending on the application. If your priority is to install a system that will operate as long as possible before failing, you must evaluate the MTBF.
MTBF Comparison of Enclosure Cooling Systems
If MTBF is important to you, and it should be if budget is a concern, it’s important to know how the different options stack up.
- Heat exchanger – An enclosure air to air heat exchanger typically has longer MTBF than an air conditioner. This is because heat exchangers rely on heat pipe technology to provide cooling. A heat pipe uses non-mechanical technology with no moving parts, so the limiting factor in these systems are the fans used to circulate air.
- Air conditioner – An enclosure air conditioner, on the other hand, uses compressor based technology that requires more moving parts that increase the chance of failure, thereby shortening MTBF.
- Filtered fan – Although filtered fans have a longer MTBF, they are often not suitable solutions for enclosure cooling because they do not keep outside air contaminants from entering the enclosure.
As the most reliable option, an enclosure air to air heat exchanger will allow you to get the most return for your investment. It also has the advantage of requiring very little maintenance due to fewer moving parts. This makes heat exchangers a popular solution for remote locations or those that are difficult to access.
However, although an enclosure air to air heat exchanger may be the most reliable option, it is not always the best solution for every application. It’s important to remember that a heat exchanger can only be used when the ambient temperature is lower than the temperature inside the enclosure. When this is not the case, an air conditioner must be used to maintain the desired enclosure temperature.
If you need help deciding which type of electrical enclosure cooling system to select, work with the experts at Thermal Edge. We’ll work closely with you to evaluate your electrical enclosure, the surrounding environment, and your priorities so you can achieve the most cost-effective solution. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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