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Heat Exchanger Overview

Heat Exchangers

In many applications where electronic equipment is being installed, the maximum operating temperature of the equipment is higher than the maximum ambient temperature. This equipment will operate safely even when regularly exposed to these ambient conditions. However, if this same equipment needs to be enclosed due to environmental or security concerns, the heat it generates can be problematic. While the electronics could withstand the environmental temperatures, the build-up of heat will quickly raise the internal temperature of the enclosure. This could result in catastrophic failure of the electronics causing downtime and costly repairs. Since the required solution does not need to actively cool the enclosure below the ambient temperature but instead needs to dissipate the excess heat, this is a perfect application for a Heat Exchanger.

How Does it Work

A heat exchanger is simply defined as “any device used to transfer heat between a solid object and a fluid, or between two or more fluids.” In EIC Solutions' heat exchangers, fans are used to draw the hot air within the enclosure, created by the enclosed equipment, over the heat-absorbing convoluted core. Through thermal-dynamic principles, the heat is transferred to the ambient side of the core. Here the ambient air stream absorbs the heat. The “conditioned” air within the enclosure is then re-circulated to repeat the heat absorbing process. This active cooling process helps to limit the temperature rise within the enclosure and keep the housed equipment within operational ranges.


In order to properly understand the heat exchanger sizes, it is important to first know how they are rated. Heat exchangers are not rated in BTU’s like air conditioners but are instead rated by how many watts they can remove per degree F. If the exchanger is rated at 10 watts per degree F it can remove 10 watts by allowing a 1-degree rise above ambient and 100 watts by allowing a 10-degree rise. When sizing a heat exchanger for an application EIC recommends an allowance for a minimum rise of 5F over ambient.

Heat exchangers will also function best without the use of insulation within the enclosure. Insulation is very beneficial when using an air conditioner as the temperature within the enclosure is lower than the ambient temperature. When allowing the internal temperature to rise above ambient (as with a heat exchanger) the lack of insulation allows some of the housed heat to be dissipated through the walls of the enclosure.


With sizes from 5.7 watts/degree F all the way up to 83 watts/degree F, all EIC’s heat exchangers are available in several different NEMA ratings and voltages. They can be mounted to enclosures to maintain NEMA 12, 3R, 4 or 4X ratings. With power configurations in 120VAC and 230VAC as well as 48VDC, there is a solution for most any situation. Mounting options include side-mount and top-mount (5.7 watts only). Heat exchangers do not use a thermostat and actively dissipate heat continuously while they are powered.

When equipment must be enclosed and unwanted heat build-up is a concern, EIC’s heat exchangers can keep your equipment up and running. Contact EIC’s knowledgeable Sales Engineers for a complete application review.