Offering the convenience and speed of self-service, kiosks are gaining more popularity worldwide, and it is difficult to imagine life without them. From ticketing and banking, to ordering food and printing pictures, kiosks are used for many different types of services; and with advances in technology, applications are always increasing. Kiosks typically contain sensitive electronics that include CPUs, printers and LCD touch-screens. In most applications, when a kiosk is located indoors, auxiliary cooling is not required. The small amount of heat produced inside a typical kiosk is dissipated by convection. However, if the conditions yield slightly elevated temperatures near the upper limits of acceptability, the addition of an air moving device, such as a fan, is an inexpensive method for dissipating the heat. (The ambient air is sufficient as long as it is clean and cool enough.)
What’s unique about outdoor applications?
Outdoor kiosks require additional consideration compared to their indoor counterparts. The reason for this is due to the potential for exposure to extreme weather conditions and harsh environments. The enclosure itself should be upgraded to protect against such adverse conditions, and a solution to counter high temperatures and humidity would also be required. Solar load is a major factor contributing to the cooling capacity necessary for trouble-free operation. Since the ambient air typically cannot be used to cool, active rather than passive methods are necessary. In most situations, an air conditioner mounted inside the kiosk, which can seal out the outside air and keep internal temperatures down to acceptable levels should be used. It is important to make sure the airflow throughout the kiosk is optimized by component placement to help avoid “hot spots” where the cool air may be blocked or restricted.
Will the kiosk be affected if it’s in a cold environment?
For colder climates, supplemental heat may be necessary to maintain the internal kiosk temperature above the dew point; this may be needed during winter or nighttime throughout the year (even in warmer weather seasons – when humidity is a factor, preventing condensation from forming is paramount for the longevity of the sensitive electronic components within the kiosk). It is recommended that the air conditioner includes a temperature controller and compressor heater to help maintain appropriate temperatures for the unit to operate properly during cold conditions. This is of particular concern when ambient operating temperatures are expected to drop below 50ºF. Heaters should be set to turn on well below the air conditioner temperature setting in order to avoid the heating and cooling systems running simultaneously. Additionally, another good option to incorporate into the cooling unit is remote alarm capability so temperature conditions can be monitored off-site and potential failures resulting in downtime can be addressed quickly.
Address cooling early in development!
It is best to think about thermal management requirements in the design stage. Some important aspects to consider include:
- Cooling capacity under worst case environmental conditions
- The size and space a cooling unit will occupy
- The airflow path available for the cool air
For further guidance, consult the experts at Kooltronic who can help size a cooling unit and recommend the best option for your application.