Outdoor electrical installations : determining the right thermal management solution

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Considering thermal management solutions for outdoor electrical installations

Electrical, electronic and telecommunications equipment increasingly operates outdoors to meet demanding client specifications in rugged applications. The enclosures that house equipment need to withstand everything that the natural and built environments can throw at them from the outside. On the inside, they must ensure the right operating conditions even as the rise of electronics makes equipment ever more sensitive to heat and moisture.

Balancing the banes of heat and moisture in enclosures installed outdoors

In some parts of the world temperatures exceed 50°C. In others, they fall to –40°C, bringing installations to a halt. High levels of relative humidity, too – up to 95% – cause condensation, as do sharp swings between hot and cold, as the warm air inside an enclosure meets the cold casing. The result? Corrosion, premature ageing, short circuits.

Condensation is less of an issue with sealed designs and temperatures that are kept higher than the dew point. But when IP ratings are high, there’s very little air exchange and overheating becomes a concern, as the greater heat diffusion densities of power electronics combines with irradiance.

The irradiance produced by solar radiation from sunlight varies according to an enclosure’s size and its angle to the sun. Depending on the enclosure’s geographic position and the season, irradiance can be as fierce as 1200 w/m2. The result may be steep internal temperature rises, which can however be tempered by a properly sized enclosure and by the colour of its finish.

With a fully integrated approach to solving outdoor challenges, a new family of Heavy Duty enclosures has been launched.  Their uniquely resistant designs and materials deliver not just robust protection, but high-precision thermal management, too – in the toughest operating environments.

How do heavy duty enclosures optimize the use of thermal management solutions in outdoor installations?

Through fully active cooling-refrigeration or condensation control systems, combined active-passive air-exchange, or fully passive arrangements. Before using costly active solutions, outdoor heavy duty enclosures are designed first to get the most out of passive ones, like solar radiation shielding, where the colour of an enclosure’s finish acts on irradiance. The lighter its colour, the more radiation it reflects, so easing internal temperature rises. Active and passive thermal management techniques were explained in an earlier blog. What matters is finding the optimized thermal management solution.

Determining the right thermal management solution

It is calculated from a range of parameters and variables. They are so interdependent and require such precision to get the right balance, only dedicated software can do easier the job. ProClima is just such a tool.

The latest version of ProClima includes indoor and outdoor settings, allows you to explore different thermal options in one enclosure and had incorporated new ventilation, control, heating and cooling functions.

The software first processes the weather conditions and to make it simple now you can also import world map weather data thanks to a wizard that displays the minimum temperature, high relative humidity and high sun radiation levels from more than 10,000 locations worldwide. Another important variable taken into account is the heat dissipated by the equipment in the enclosure, which includes any active cooling or heating devices. Once it has those factors and values, Proclima swiftly calculates the thermal management solution that best fits for purpose.

Any queries or remarks? Want to know more? I’d love to hear from you.