Hoffman Thermal Audits Provide Solutions to Cool Electronics and Maximize Equipment Life

Hoffman thermal audit maximizes equipment life

Summer’s coming, and the time to begin protecting your electronics, before it’s too late, is today. As temperatures rise, industrial electronics can overheat, causing malfunction and even complete device failure. In fact, statistics show that for every 18°F over room temperature, the life expectancy of an electronic device drops by 50%.

To determine thermal heat loads, and examine the stress placed on electrical devices by excess heat, Steiner is offering a FREE THERMAL AUDIT to be conducted by its Hoffman-trained and certified expert.

A thermal audit can identify problem areas and produce compelling evidence of excess heat that can affect performance and potentially damage critical equipment.

Are Your Electronics in Danger?

Keeping electronics cool is essential to maximizing the life cycle of electronic devices, reducing mean time between failures (MTBF), cutting capital expenses, and keeping production humming along.

Heat is generated internally by electronic components and intensified by external sources. Inside a cabinet, uncooled components can generate as much trapped heat as a home furnace.

Heat sources include:

  • AC power supplies
  • Controllers, drives and servos
  • Transformers and rectifiers
  • Processors and server racks
  • Radio equipment
Thermal energy from an electrical enclosure is measured during a thermal audit.

To cool the electronic and its components, the thermal energy must be transferred away from the device. There are a few basic ways to cool industrial enclosures, including using a sealed enclosure that utilizes a heat exchanger, an A/C unit that uses a fan to circulate fresh air through a cabinet, or via conductive cooling in which the heat radiates through the cabinet.

Without these measures, temperature variations can lead to everything from nuisance problems to shutdowns. Tripping can become a source of frustration, and heat stress can affect loop controllers, PLCs and more.

At high temperatures, drive performance can be derated, and I/C-based devices can behave strangely creating unusual output such as voltage fluctuation. At low temperatures, cooling below the dew point can lead to condensation and promote corrosion.

For instance, MOSFET transistors, which are voltage-controlled field effect transistors made from metal oxide and silicon components, can falter from excess heat. High temperatures can change the properties of the silicon oxide. The higher the temperature, the higher the threshold voltage that triggers an open gate. At too high of a temperature, the gate may not open at all.

Another potential heat-related hazard pertains to wiring insulation. With increasing temperatures, elasticity and strength of the insulation are reduced, and ductility can temporarily increase.

What is Tested During an Audit

When a facility is audited, the inspector looks at all the factors that could affect temperature increase. Typically, a Hoffman thermal audit examines:

  • Heat load of enclosed electrical equipment
  • Temperature ratings of the installed equipment (upper and lower limits)
  • Ambient temperature (typical and extreme)
  • Environmental conditions
    – Clean air (Type 1)
    – Dirty or wet environment (Type 12, Type 4/4X)
    – Closed- or open-loop cooling systems
    – Indoor or outdoor enclosure location
  • Maintenance and frequency of access requirements

When finished, a report is developed that will provide recommended thermal management solutions. These best practices are designed to keep electronic components cool and help minimize unplanned failures.

A thermal audit helps determine best practices for managing thermal energy.
A thermal audit helps determine best practices for managing thermal energy. Free Hoffman Thermal Audits are available from Steiner Electric.

Essentially, by removing the waste heat, efficiency can be increased while downtime and operating costs are reduced.

Allowing electronic components to run hot can be a gamble that could require a company to prematurely replace industrial drives, cause hours of automation system downtime, and create out-of-warranty conditions when cooling is not used.

Authorized Distributor

As an authorized distributor of Hoffman enclosure products, Steiner has a full-time, Hoffman-trained expert on staff. Hoffman is a leader in the design and manufacture of engineered thermal management systems for virtually any cooling application.

A thermal image captured during a thermal audit.

With Hoffman you get more than 100-combined years of thermal management engineering experience backed by extensive in-house test facilities that rigorously test computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling, thermal cycling, salt fog, sound chamber and airflow.

Request your free Hoffman Thermal Audit, or for more information, please contact your Steiner Hoffman representative or call 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).

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