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Corrosion-Resistant Thermoelectric Air Conditioners and Enclosures

EIC Solutions, Inc. has manufactured thermoelectric air conditioners and enclosures for electronics exposed to harsh, corrosive environmental conditions for decades. Manufactured in the U.S., these robust, thermoelectric air conditioners harness the Peltier effect to create solid-state cooling without any moving parts besides the fans. The closed-loop design of the air conditioners circulates cooled air inside of the enclosure without any exchange of ambient air, protecting the housed electronics from contaminants. Thermoelectric air conditioners are used to reduce heat build-up inside of enclosures, protecting electronic equipment by decreasing failure due to overheating.

 

NEMA-4x-enclosure

Advantages to Powder Coating

EIC’s thermoelectric air conditioners are built to National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standards, which carry different levels of ingress protection against specific environmental hazards. EIC’s original thermoelectric air conditioners were designed for NEMA 12 applications. This meant the coolers were suitable for indoor use only. A NEMA 12 product provides a degree of protection against falling dirt, circulating dust, lint, fibers, and against dripping and light splashing of liquids. The mild steel construction of a NEMA 12 device can be susceptible to rusting and corrosion. In order to prevent or minimize this issue, the steel is powder-coated to add a level of protection.

Powder coating is a method of applying a protective finish to any type of metal and is a common industrial alternative to traditional primer and paint. This tough finish acts as a corrosion-proof barrier between the metal and the environment to which it is exposed. The powder is a mixture of finely ground particles of pigment and resin, which is electrostatically sprayed onto the enclosure coating the entire surface with a thin layer of powder. It is then baked in an oven which fuses the powder to the surface creating a smooth coating. Powder coating makes surfaces more resistant to chipping, scratching, fading, corrosion, and chemicals or liquids compared to wet paint. Powder coating is the most economical, long-lasting, and durable finish available with a variety of options including:

  • Standard Powder Coating– Utilized in a large majority of applications appropriate for indoor or outdoor applications
  • RAL Matches– Used for specific RAL chart color matching
  • Standard Mil Spec Powder Coating- (Desert Tan, Olive Drab)- Used in almost all military applications and matches the Federal Color Standards used by the military
  • Military Carc Powder Coating– Chemical agent resistant coating utilized in very specific military applications
  • Available Finishes- Smooth, pebble, glossy, matte
  • Performance Characteristics: Salt Spray Resistance
    • Standard Powder Coating & Black Epoxy Coating- 1,000+ hours- 2,500+ hours
    • Tough High Corrosion Resistance Powder Coating- 3,500+ hours

Increased Corrosion Protection

While EIC Solutions’ original air conditioner product line was applicable for only indoor projects, requests for housing sensitive electronics outdoors continually increased. In these outdoor applications, electronics were potentially exposed to extreme environmental conditions, making it essential to add environmental protection. NEMA 4 and NEMA 4X products are both rated for outdoor use. This exceeds the NEMA 12 rating by including an added level of protection against hose-directed water. NEMA 4 products can be constructed from powder-coated metal, while NEMA 4X construction requires the metal itself to also be corrosion-resistant. Typically constructed of stainless steel, NEMA 4X products are the most durable and provide the highest level of protection against corrosion. In 1996, in response to the demand for products suited for outdoor use in harsh environments, EIC created the Thermotec™ line of thermoelectric air conditioners. This new line of products met the needs of outdoor applications for markets including mass transit, security & surveillance, entertainment, and military & defense. Currently, the entire Thermotec™ Line is rated NEMA 4X.

EIC Solutions NEMA 4X products are most commonly constructed from type 304 stainless steel which was selected due to its excellent corrosion-resistance. All steel has the same basic iron and carbon composition, but stainless steel also contains chromium, the alloy that gives stainless steel the corrosion-resistant capability. Type 304 stainless steel contains between 16-24% chromium and 35% nickel which can withstand much more time and abuse before showing signs of wear, but is not literally stainless; over time it can develop discoloration and potentially surface rust, degrading its appearance but not its structural integrity.

There are multiple grades of stainless steel, each with a different alloy composition and physical characteristics. For exceptionally corrosive environments, EIC Solutions recommends type 316 stainless steel construction for both air conditioners and enclosures. It has similar physical properties as 304 stainless steel, but also incorporates approx. 2-3% molybdenum. That addition increases corrosion-resistance particularly against environments high in chlorides. Type 316 stainless steel is commonly used in industrial applications involving caustic chemical wash-down or installations in coastal regions and shipboard applications which will be regularly exposed to salt spray and fog. It is also used in outdoor areas where de-icing salts are regularly used as well as the manufacture of medical surgical instruments.

 

Standard and Custom NEMA Enclosures

Protector™ Workstation Series 70" Air Conditioned Enclosure - Front View, Left SideOur thermoelectric air conditioners can be added to existing enclosures that require environmental control, or provided with an EIC Solutions enclosure. We offer NEMA 12, 4 or 4X enclosures which are available in powder coated steel, type 304 stainless steel, or type 316 stainless steel for maximum corrosion-resistance. Our Protector™ Workstation enclosures are specifically used for housing computer, monitor, and keyboard equipment creating a terminal for industrial use. The Protector™ Pre-Packaged enclosures are suitable for wall or pole-mounting and are available in fixed sizes and air conditioner configurations. This is the most cost effective enclosure line with the best lead time. The Protector™ Wall-Mount series includes a rear sub-panel for mounting electronics and is available in numerous sizes, styles, and configurations providing added options. The Protector™ Rack Series includes standard 19” rack rails for mounting rack equipment and is fully customizable, making it the most flexible enclosure line in our series, ideal for custom jobs. Our enclosures can be purchased separately or integrated with a thermoelectric air conditioner and shipped completely assembled.

EIC Solutions offers a wide variety of NEMA 4X thermoelectric air conditioners ranging from 200BTU-3,200BTU. Offering reliable performance in severe, caustic and corrosive environments, the air conditioners can be integrated into any outdoor enclosure from sandy deserts to salty shipboard applications. Sensitive electronic gear located outdoors including network, monitoring, video, telecom, and communications equipment requires proper housing and environmental control that EIC Solutions can supply. If you have an application in a harsh, corrosive environment, contact a knowledgeable EIC sales engineer to review your specific application.

EIC Solutions, Inc. specializes in the design and manufacturing of thermoelectric cooling systems, air conditioned electronic enclosures, and transit cases for a wide range of industries. Our products have been used in a variety of enclosure cooling applications involving the protection of electronic equipment both indoors and outdoors.  EIC Solutions strives to provide the best products, resources, and tools to help customers protect investments in sensitive electronics. If you have questions regarding any of our products please contact us online or call us at 800-497-4524.