Machine Design

Air conditioning for electronic enclosures

Engineers are cramming more and more electronics into factory-floor control cabinets, and heat trapped in those enclosures can turn them into potential saunas.

That heat can degrade electronics, leading to premature failures and downtime. To keep things cool, engineers at Rittal Corp., Springfield, Ohio (, have designed the TopTherm Plus line of industrial air conditioners. They use separate insulated internal and external cooling chambers to maintain a constant temperature inside the cabinet independent of outside conditions.

The units feature a built-in condensate evaporator (in units with cooling capacities of 3,400 Btus or more), which prevents water from dripping onto electronics or the factory floor. Condenser coils are coated with the company’s glasslike RiNano coating that repels dust and dirt, preventing either from building up on the coils. This reduces maintenance. The units use ozone-friendly, CFC-free R134a as a refrigerant and have capacities ranging from 1,000 to 15,000 Btu. They mount on roofs or walls, operate in ambient temperatures from 68 to 131°F, and run on 115, 230, or 400/460 V and at 50 or 60 Hz. A 3124.0 interface card permits remote monitoring, and a central master with the Comfort Controller can control several slaved units.

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