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5 helpful hints to save control panel space

13 Mar 2015  | James Brasch

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Maximise energy distribution

Panel design optimisation is important to minimise equipment size, which affects the protective enclosure containing the sub-panel, and represents the outer envelope of the power distribution and control housing in equipment design. The approach for introducing electrical power into and distributed throughout an enclosure also impacts its size. Traditional wiring methods use older components such as power distribution blocks (PDB) where large conductors enter one side of the PDB and small conductors exit the other side. PDB requires significant labour to install and anchor a power control component to a specific location in the panel design, leaving little room for variation or modification.

PDB

(Source: Panduit Corp.)

Conversely, modular busbar systems can distribute power of less than 150A to well over 1,800A at system voltages of up to 600V, and are relevant for virtually all power distribution and control panels in machine design today. Modular busbar systems, through their space-saving strategies, can deliver upwards of 25 per cent space savings in traditional motor control applications, variable frequency drive applications and power distribution panels for industrial equipment. This space savings can often allow the designer to select the next smaller enclosure.

Thermal demands

Saving space in a control panel often means mounting active heat-generating devices in close proximity with one another, and putting them into a smaller, more compact enclosure. While desirable for saving space, it creates a problem for heat dissipation because there are more heat-generating devices in a smaller enclosed space.

Understanding the thermal needs of a control panel is a key component to control panel design. There are several levels of thermal management solutions, depending on the amount of heat being generated inside the panel, the environment surrounding the control panel, and the type and size of the enclosure used for the control panel design. There are also several products that can help manage thermal demands, including small footprint air conditioners, thermoelectric coolers and compact cooling fans. These products, when used in the right application, can allow the designer to fit more heat-generating devices into a smaller space.

It is easy for design engineers to get overwhelmed by the tremendous demands encountered when meeting space requirements. Follow these tips and you will have control of your space in no time.


James Brasch is associate product manager for Panduit Corp.


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