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10 Enclosure Cooling Considerations


Early Planning Helps Avoid Problems Later!

 Heat producing components currently used in electronic and industrial equipment enclosures present the problem of dissipating the heat generated before damage can occur to heat-sensitive parts. In many cases, the problem can be solved by ventilation, using simple air moving devices such as Fans and Blowers. However, in an increasing amount of applications, the available ambient air is contaminated or too warm to be used for the safe dissipation of the unwanted heat. Under these conditions, the life expectancy and performance of sensitive components may be adversely impacted, often causing equipment malfunctions, slowdowns or failures. For such applications, where ambient air cannot be used, a Heat Exchanger or Air Conditioner is the best choice.


In order to create the optimum environment for the application, an evaluation of the anticipated operating conditions and thermal requirements of the equipment (or system) must be completed.


Here are some good questions to ask:


  1. Does the equipment/system require cooling, or is spot cooling adequate?
  2. Are there any components that are particularly sensitive to heat or other adverse conditions?
  3. How much heat is produced within the enclosure?
  4. What is the maximum temperature acceptable in the enclosure?
  5. What is the average and maximum temperature range of the ambient air?
  6. Is a specifically maintained temperature range required?
  7. What is the particulate and moisture content of the ambient air?
  8. Does the ambient air contain dirt, oil, corrosives or other contaminants harmful to enclosure contents?
  9. Where can cooling devices be mounted on the enclosure?
  10. Do the contents inside the enclosure need to be isolated (by the use of a sealed enclosure) from the heat or contaminants in the ambient air?


After all of the application-specific factors are determined, a decision can be made about the type of ventilation or cooling required, and which equipment provides the most appropriate performance and cost-effective solution. A little time and effort spent early in the design process to choose the optimum cooling equipment can save a lot of trouble and expense later, as this would prevent the need to retrofit with proper cooling devices in the field.


FANS: Fans occupy minimal cabinet space and will move a substantial volume of air where flow is virtually unimpeded. Packaged fans can be used for filtered panel or rack-mounted cooling in such applications.


BLOWERS: Blowers are designed to operate against higher static pressures. Packaged blowers provide compact, filtered, rack-mounted cooling in a variety of airflow configurations.


HEAT EXCHANGERS AND AIR CONDITIONERS: In applications where equipment operating temperatures must remain near or below ambient, or where airborne contaminants pose a threat to electronic components, the enclosure interior must be isolated from the external environment. For such applications, a sealed enclosure, with a Heat Exchanger or Air Conditioner is required. Heat Exchangers are recommended for equipment which can tolerate operating temperatures moderately higher than ambient, while Air Conditioners are required where equipment temperatures must be maintained at or below ambient.

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Topics: Cooling basics, Heat Exchangers, Air Conditioners, Fans and Blowers

Bruce Kreeley

Written by Bruce Kreeley

Director of Sales, Engineering and Marketing