Cooling with Filter Fans for Electronic Enclosures

March 05 2021

Product Insight

If you’ve ever been stranded on the side of the road because your car is overheating, you understand the value and importance of temperature control when it comes to mechanical or electronic components. Just like with a car engine, electronics inside an industrial enclosure are constantly exposed to high degrees of heat, humidity, harmful particles like dust or dirt, and other foreign contaminants that can significantly decrease both the efficacy and lifespan of the electronics and even the enclosure itself. 

As such, consistent temperature control inside the enclosure is a top-of-mind priority for system engineers, who have a variety of options when deploying a cooling solution. Natural convection cooling, air-to-air heat exchangers, air-to-water heat exchangers, and industrial air conditioners are just a handful of temperature control options, but filter fan cooling for electronic enclosures can often be undervalued as a viable cooling solution. System engineers would be wise to consider this method of industrial enclosure cooling because of its: 

  • Overall design simplicity
  • Ease of use and installation
  • Cost effective including initial/acquisition cost and operating costs

With this mind, let’s briefly examine the factors to consider when weighing whether a filter fan cooling system is right for you and how exactly a filter fan cooling unit works in order to realize the value of filter fan cooling for electronic enclosures.

Considerations for filter fan cooling

As with any climate control or cooling solution for industrial enclosures and electronics, the first consideration must be the degree of cooling or cooling output your system requires to operate at peak efficiency. The calculus of total thermal load of your enclosure, the electronics, any accessories or integrations, and the connectivity to linked systems is often the first misstep when system engineers decide whether a filter fan cooling unit will provide optimal temperature control capability. 

As part and parcel of this initial consideration, system engineers must also weigh how much airflow is needed to properly cool the enclosure and electronics versus how much consistent airflow a filter fan can provide, along with effectively the filter can prevent harmful particles from entering the enclosure and causing damage to the electronics inside. 

For a nuts and bolts understanding: If the surrounding air temperature is cooler than the temperature that must be maintained within the enclosure, a filter fan cooling unit is uniquely positioned to provide adequate cooling and prevent harmful particles from entering the enclosure particle dispersal because of airflow pathways specific to filter fan design — we’ll touch more on this a moment. 

When simplicity and ease of use are the top priority, filter fan cooling units are the cooling solution of choice. 

How filter fan cooling works

We’ve all likely at some point somewhat haphazardly installed a box fan in a bedroom window in the summer to help circulate air and cool the room throughout the day so it’s not like sleeping in a blast furnace at night. The fan blades help move cooler ambient air throughout the room via the rapid rotation of the blades. This same principle illustrates how a filter fan cooling unit works. 

A filter fan cooling unit consists of a filter housing, motor, and fan blades, which, once the motor is turned on, directs cooler, ambient airflow throughout the enclosure via the pressure created by rotation of the fan blades. This airflow prevents harmful particles from entering and circulating throughout the enclosure and maintains a specific internal temperature.

Rittal’s line of filter fan cooling units offer high degrees of customization in order to provide the most robust cooling and prevention of harmful particle intrusion as possible. While standard filter fan products utilize a single fan unit, the option to add a secondary filter fan to create parallel cooling provides increased airflow, which not only helps the enclosed electronics operate at peak performance but also prolongs the lifespan of both the electronics and enclosure itself.   

This means that at the end of the day filter fan cooling provides robust ROI and is an important value proposition for system engineers whose industrial enclosure architecture is a good fit for the kind of cooling filter fans provide.

Learn more about our filter fan units with our TopTherm Filter Fan brochure!