When deploying computer enclosures in a harsh and hot environment, a filtered fan system (or thermal management) consideration should be at the top of the project “to-do list.” Without a doubt, electronics will generate heat on the inside of a computer enclosure. The heat will need to be abated or it will be harmful to essential equipment. No company wants downtime from failed equipment. In many instances, filtered fan systems are an ideal way to generate airflow and remove heat.
Fans and filters – in various sizes – are available on the computer enclosure market. When installing computer enclosures on a factory or industrial plant floor, a fan should be explored. The filtered fan system should blow ‘cool’ air into the computer enclosure and keep dust and damaging contaminants out. A filtered fan system creates a positive pressure on the inside of the enclosure. Positive pressure will keep a computer enclosure free of dust and dirt.
Filtered Fan System Considerations:
1. Install electronic components – housed in the enclosure with the highest heat dissipation – towards the top of the enclosure, where excess hot air will be forced out through the filtered fan system exhaust. Electronics, like computers, printers, and servers tend to generate a good amount of heat when continually in use.
2. It is also important to consider the location of the filtered fan system on the computer enclosure. The filtered fan system should be installed towards the bottom of a computer enclosure and the exhaust should be towards the top. This will provide the coolest air flow and will remove the heat that will rise during the day.
3. Some fans are designed to run continuously, while others can be combined with a thermostat to only turn on when needed. Thermostats should be considered to cut down on the fan running excessively, which may result in the motor burning out. Thermostats are easily explained on doityourself.com, [a] “thermostat comes into play as soon as a certain relatively high temperature is reached inside the [enclosure]. This will cause the fan to receive a signal. To put it simply, the motor will start running and the blades rotating, so as to start working to regulate the temperature in the air until it becomes cooler.
4. Inquire what level of filtration is required with the fan system. According to Air Quality Engineering, a micron is “a millionth of a meter. To put in perspective, the average human hair is 150 microns in diameter while dust is typically 5 to 10 microns in size.” For example, a 10-micron filter is commonly used on industrial fan systems in computer enclosures. However, for manufacturing environments that have very fine dust/debris in the air, a 3-micron filter, a finer filtration, may be required. Keep in mind, the finer or denser the filtration media, the less air you will be able to move through the filter and computer enclosure.
A filtered fan system or thermal management, in general, is the most important factor in determining whether electronics will have a lengthy life or a short life. Obviously, it is important to get optimum operating life from your electronic equipment and to mitigate lengthy and costly downtime. In the end, filtered fan systems are easy to install in computer enclosures and almost maintenance free (changing out filter after extended use).
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