The black sheep of the electrical industry

September 07, 2016 //By Steve Hughes
The black sheep of the electrical industry
In early 2016, a Welsh village was swept with unfounded fears that a flock of drug-fuelled sheep would go on a psychotic rampage due to recent fly-tipping. This stemmed from one source’s statement being misconstrued by the public.

While on this occasion little harm was done to anything other than the sheep’s reputation, the event highlighted the ease with which misconceptions can often lead to a fear of new developments, especially in the world of technological innovation. Using water-cooling for electrical devices, for example, has a stigma due to the combination of liquid and electricity. 

It is common knowledge that mixing electricity and water is generally a recipe for disaster. So often, we are warned that the two together are a fire hazard that, when suggested, the idea of using water-cooling for power supplies makes many electrical engineers understandably sheepish.

Although there was once significant risk involved with water-cooling, the practice is now safe and used in many industrial applications in place of air cooling. The threat of leakage has been subdued as most critical water-cooling now operates in self-contained housing systems so that – in the unlikely scenario of a leakage – there is no risk of electrical fire.  

Liquid coolants also offer a number of advantages to businesses. For some the biggest benefit could be a streamlined product design, while others will be more interested in the industrial circular economy that they can implement.


Compact versatility

One of the most straightforward benefits of water-cooling is a more compact overall design. This is because, traditionally, most electrical devices use air-cooling technologies and therefore enclosures have to be larger to accommodate for the bulkier size of fans.

While it might not initially sound like much more than an aesthetic benefit, a sleeker design means that devices are able to fit into tighter spaces. Power controllers, for example, are often integrated into transformer control cabinets and can therefore benefit from the smaller footprint that water-cooled power controllers provide. The same is true for space-restricted applications such as industrial ovens and heating equipment.

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