Electrical cabinets and enclosures are often located in high-dust areas such as food processing plants and mines where powdered substances like coal dust, whey or flour are produced. Problems arise when dust infiltrates the electrical cabinet or enclosure, causing overheating, electrical shorts, malfunction, and premature failure of components – all of which can be costly and hinder plant processes. Solutions to reduce or eliminate dust accumulation inside electrical cabinets and enclosures are discussed below.
Installing a dust collection system can be effective. However, these systems can be very costly and require a large space for installation. Even effective dust collection may do a good job for a large space, but dust can still find its way into cabinets located near the source of the dust. There is also an increased risk of fire and explosion if the systems are not maintained properly.
Fixed schedule cleaning
Another solution to dust elimination is to clean the electrical cabinet or enclosure on a regular basis. This is done by vacuuming, wiping down, or blowing out the cabinets with compressed air. The downside to this solution is that it requires manpower, time, and adherence to a maintenance schedule.
Live with the problem
Many plants simply live with the problem and address emergencies as they arise. Obviously, this is not an ideal solution as it causes maintenance personnel to be diverted and production to be disrupted - amounting to the loss of thousands of dollars every hour. Unplanned maintenance not only disrupts existing schedules, but it also idles equipment and personnel until the repair is completed. Downstream processes and product shipments are also delayed.
A cabinet dryer
The most effective way to eliminate dust levels inside electrical cabinets is by installing an air dryer specifically designed for electrical cabinets and enclosures. A Parker Balston Cabinet Dryer, for example, purges the inside of an electrical cabinet with clean, dry air to -7°F (-22C°). The purge creates a slight positive pressure within the cabinet that prevents dust from entering. The dryer operates without the need for electricity, which simplifies installation and eliminates any chance of a spark that could cause a dust explosion.
Parker Balston Cabinet Dryers are available for cabinet size ranges of 0-4 cubic feet, 4-12 cubic feet, and 12-36 cubic feet. The dryer uses house compressed air and can operate in a compressed air temperature range from 40-120°F (4-49°C) and an ambient temperature range from 35-120°F (2-49°C). The dryers have a built-in flow restriction, so they should be fed with compressed air from 60-150 psi (4.1-10.3 BAR). The cabinet dryers are small and lightweight and can be mounted directly on the exterior of the cabinet or nearby the cabinet on a wall or supporting member.
For additional information on eliminating dust from electrical cabinets, please read this marketing application publication.