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Evaluation of Cooling Solutions for Outdoor Electronics
Keywords: Thermal management, electronics cooling, solar loading
The thermal management of an outdoor electronic enclosure can be quite challenging due to the additional thermal load from the sun and the requirement of having an air-sealed enclosure. It is essential to consider the effect of solar heating loads in the design process; otherwise, it can shorten the life expectancy of the electronic product or lead to catastrophic failure. In this paper we analyze and compare the effectiveness of different cooling techniques used for outdoor electronics. Various cooling techniques were compared like special coatings and paints on the outer surface, radiation shields, double-walled vented enclosures, fans for internal air circulation and air-to-air heat exchangers. A highly simplified, typical outdoor system was selected for this study measuring approximately 300x300x400 mm (WxLxH). Solar radiation was incident on 3 sides of the enclosure. There were 8 equally spaced PCBs inside the enclosure dissipating 12.5W each uniformly (100 watts total). A computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of the system was built and analyzed. This was followed by building a mock-up of the system and conducting experiments to validate the CFD model. It was found that some of the simplest cooling techniques like white oil paint on the outer surface can significantly reduce the impact of solar loads. Adding internal circulation fans can also be very effective. Using air-to-air heat exchangers was found to be the most effective solution although it is more complex and costly.
Mahendra S. Wankhede, Student
Applied Thermal India
Pune, Maharashtra 411005,
India


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