When installing electronics in a heavy-duty, NEMA rated enclosure, a cooling thermal management unit (air conditioner, filtered fan system, vortex cooling unit, heat exchanger) should be considered. Expensive equipment (like computers, thermal printers, LCD monitors and other related peripherals) can overheat inside of a sealed pc enclosure, thus causing electronics to cease working or, at the very least, drastically slow down. Some type of cooling may be necessary to maintain a consistent temperature during operating hours.
Why Proper Thermal Management Helps:
- Prolongs the Life of Electronics
The average lifetime of a computer is approximately 3-5 years. According to AZ Central (USA Today Network), the lifespan is “gauged by a variety of factors including environmental conditions, usage patterns, and computing needs. Many computers will last far longer than this, and possibly a decade or more if properly maintained.” In general, computers and electronics will not survive – on their own – in a hot, dusty manufacturing facility, if not protected inside of a pc enclosure. Furthermore, electronics – installed within the sealed enclosure – may also need thermal management to survive. When electronics are used daily, it is good business to maximize their life cycle. If a printer is overheated, then the media may not print properly and if a computer is overheated, it may shut down completely. By keeping electronics running at optimal temperatures, production will never need to slow down.
- Reduces Costly Downtime
If electronics are housed in an enclosure, which is in a hot industrial environment, high ambient temperatures will slowly damage a computer or other electronic devices. If the inside of an enclosure is cool and humidity is removed, the equipment will not overheat and will continue to operate at a peak performance. If the computer or printer is needed for everyday tasks, then it must be WORKING(!)… plain and simple. According to the article, The Cost of IT Downtime, Michael Copeland writes, “Because there are so many differences in how businesses operate, downtime, at the low end, can be as much as $140,000 per hour, $300,000 per hour on average, and as much as $540,000 per hour at the higher end… Downtime is extremely expensive, and in ways that can make or break the success of your organization.” Time is money!
- Cuts Down on Replacements
Utilizing the same equipment for many years will offer a strong return on investment for businesses. To put it into perspective, the average computer can cost upwards of $800 to $1,200 (if not more), a replacement thermal transfer printer can run from $400 to thousands of dollars, and even standard LCD monitors are a few hundred dollars. Obviously, to save man-hours and money, a company does not want to constantly be swapping out its essential equipment. Plus, replacement products will take a long time to configure, and oftentimes replacements are in short supply – just adding to downtime and lost profits. The learning curve for brand-new equipment is also costly, as it takes time for employees to learn the latest computer system, printer, or other peripheral.
To determine the correct thermal management for an enclosure, it is always useful to perform the proper research, so that the electronics being housed are appropriately protected. Companies will often offer a website form to fill out, so that a buyer can purchase the appropriate equipment.
This formula can also be useful for picking the right thermal management:
(watts x 3.413) + (1.25 x area in square feet x ∆T temperature difference in degrees F) = BTU/hr.
Watts = The total heat load inside the enclosure (the sum of all heat-producing equipment)
Area = Total exposed surface area of the enclosure expressed in square feet
∆T = The difference in temperature between the maximum expected degrees Fahrenheit temperature outside the enclosure and the maximum degrees Fahrenheit temperature allowed inside of the enclosure
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