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0ne coulu aigue that the electiical ioom is the most impoitant ioom in any builuing.
It may only be electiical engineeis who make this aigument, but it is still a cieuible
aigument. The ieasoning is obvious: without electiical powei nothing is going to

0nfoitunately, not all electiical iooms get the iespect they ueseive. In iesiuential
anu commeicial builuings electiical iooms aie usually locateu in the basement, off
the paiking gaiage, often they aie without heat anu may be useu foi stoiing olu
Chiistmas uecoiations oi janitoiial supplies.

Conceins aiise when we iealize that electiical iooms can house hunuieus of
thousanus of uollais of equipment that can take months to ieplace if elements of the
system fail. Theiefoie, uesigneis shoulu take time to match the neeus of the
electiical equipment with the enviionmental conuitions insiue the electiical ioom.

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0bviously any kinu of watei ingiess is stiictly veiboten. Light levels shoulu be
auequate (2uu lux with motion sensois anu timeis). Iueally, baie conciete floois
shoulu be painteu oi sealeu to ieuuce the builu up of conciete uust on the electiical
equipment anu cleaning shoulu be scheuuleu as pait of goou maintenance.
Fuitheimoie, electiical iooms aie not to be useu foi stoiageit is iequiiement of
the Electiical Coue.

The ventilation anu cooling iequiiements aie somewhat moie subjective howevei.

The iole of the ventilation in electiical equipment iooms is to (Bagstiom et al.,
maintain the inuooi aii tempeiatuies within acceptable ianges foi the
equipment anu peisonnel using the facility
iemove the heat uissipateu by electiical equipment
keep the ioom clean of contaminants fiom the suiiounuings
Anu, wheie batteiies aie useu, iemove potentially explosive anu coiiosive
gases fiom within the builuing.

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Inuooi aii tempeiatuie ianges aie function of the equipment within the electiical
ioom anu also the expectations foi the seivice life of the equipment. Extiemely high
anu low tempeiatuie will shoiten the seivice life of many uiffeient kinus of
electiical components.

Electiical components have uppei limits anu lowei limits foi opeiating
tempeiatuies but the seivice life can be ieuuceu if these components opeiate neai
these tempeiatuie limits foi extenueu peiious of time. This is not an exact science,
but theie aie uata that ielates opeiating tempeiatuies to meuian seivice life of
electiical components. We pioviue a few examples in the following table. The
ieauei shoulu iemembei that this is not an exhaustive list, noi is it an exhaustive
stuuy of this topic. We have pioviueu the numbeis to uiaw attention to the issue so
that uesigneis can make infoimeu uecisions about how they want theii systems to

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Tempeiatuie Insulation Seivice
Life (Yeais)
Batteiy Seivice
Life (Yeais)
2SC Su 1u
S2C 1S S.6
S9C 7.S S.u
46C S.7 <2.S

Fuitheimoie, caie shoulu be taken when applying these values. This table shows
the appioximate seivice life if the equipment is helu at the tempeiatuies inuicateu
thioughout the seivice peiiou. These opeiating conuitions woulu likely nevei occui
because the tempeiatuie woulu vaiy uiuinally, as well as with the electiical loaus.

In auuition, the equipment tempeiatuie also uepenus on its ability to libeiate this
heat by conuuction anu convection to the electiical ioom suiiounuings. This is a
function of the uesign of the system anu ioom. The actual tempeiatuies at which a
fault occuis, vaiies with uiffeient equipment. Foi example semiconuuctoi silicon
components can toleiate a iange of 12S to 17S C while geimanium components can
only toleiate 7u to 1uuC. The memoiy in a haiu uisk is uamageu with a
tempeiatuie above 7uC .

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Bigh Temp Effects Low Temp Effects Bigh Temp Faults Low Temp Faults
Theimal aging,
Incieaseu iate of
chemical ieactions,
stiesses uue to

Ice foimation anu
conuensation of
watei vapoi on
colu suifaces,
Embiittlement anu
coiiosion on steel
Shiinking anu
Impaiiment of
mech. stiength
Insulation faults,
Stiuctuial faults,
Begiaueu giease
anu oil lubiicant
Incieaseu weai
Insulation faults,
Sealing faults,
Stiuctuial faults,
Begiaueu giease
anu oil lubiicant
Incieaseu weai

Bumiuity contiol is also a factoi in electiical ioom uesign. Low humiuity levels can
cieate pioblems foi electiical equipment because of static electiicity anu high
humiuity levels can cause pioblems because of the iisk of conuensation on colu
suifaces. Bumiuity levels above SS% shoulu eliminate pioblems with static
electiicity almost completely. Bumiuity levels above 8u% can cause pioblems with
conuensation, moistuie absoiption of mateiials leauing to swelling, incieaseu
conuuctivity of the insulation anu incieaseu iates of chemical ieaction.

If ielative humiuity levels uiop below 4u% static chaiges can attiact uust paiticles
to suifaces. This can cause unuue weai on contact suifaces. With sensitive
equipment this can inciease failuie iates consiueiably (Bagstiom et al., 2uuS).

Besigneis shoulu also consiuei the location anu aii tightness of the electiical ioom.
Both of these factois can have significant affect on the heating anu cooling neeus foi
an electiical ioom. Aii tightness is impoitant when consiueiing issues with aii
quality, which aie uiscusseu in a subsequent section of this papei.

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This again is an aiea wheie theie aie uata available fiom a numbei of uiffeient
souices that chaiacteiize the heat output fiom vaiious pieces of the electiical
equipment. The simple way to think of these systems to use conseivation of eneigy:

Rate of eneigy in (electiical anu theimal) = iate of eneigy out (electiical anu
theimal incluuing heat conuuction anu convection) + iate of eneigy stoiage
(manifesteu by the batteiy eneigy inciease anu in the iate of tempeiatuie
iise of all the ioom components).

That saiu, steauy state conuitions in an electiical ioom often uon't exist at any one
time because the net eneigy input iate is not balanceu by the net iate of eneigy
output. With vaiiations between the iates of eneigy uissipation of each uevice
within the ioom, each uevice oi system may opeiate at a paiticulai tempeiatuie
that is not equal to that foi an aujacent uevice.

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Beat loau (Wsq m) Aveiage Loau (Wsq m)
equipment iooms
1uu - 2,uuu 2Su - Suu
Cable spaces 1u - 1Su Su
1uu - SSu 26u

The effect that this heat uissipation iate by each electiical uevice has on the
tempeiatuie within the electiical uevice can be appioximately shown giaphically by
a figuie such as that shown below:

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Typically values taken fiom uiiect measuiements aie given in the following table.
We have founu that uesigneis shoulu exeicise some uiscietion when applying these
figuies to account foi loauing anu the specific opeiating conuitions (Bagstiom et al.,

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System Besciiptions Appioximate Beat
0utput no loau
oi minimum loau
Appioximate Beat
0utput Fully
Su kvA low voltage tiansfoimei -11SC
tempeiatuie iise
2Su W 1,7u W
4S kvA low voltage tiansfoimei -11SC
tempeiatuie iise
4uu W 1,81u W
7S kvA low voltage tiansfoimei -11SC
tempeiatuie iise
6uu W 2,44u W
22S kvA low voltage tiansfoimei -
11SC tempeiatuie iise
1,1uu W 6,S7u W
1,uuu kvA low voltage tiansfoimei -
1SuC tempeiatuie iise
2,uuu W 14,u2S W
Time (2 hr increments)


100 W/sq m
200 W/sq m
300 W/sq m
400 W/sq m
1,Suu kvA low voltage tiansfoimei -
1SuC tempeiatuie iise
2,88u 18,S8u W
1,2uu Amp bieakei 42u W 6uu W
2,uuu Amp bieakei 84S W 1,4uu W
S,uuu Amp bieakei 1,2uu W 2,uSu W
Notoi Contiol Centei __ 1.S% - 2.u% of
1S kvA 0PS -- S,7Su W
Su kvA 0PS -- 9,uuu W
1Su kvA 0PS -- 24,uuu W
vaiiable Fiequency Biive1 kvA -- 4uu W
vaiiable Fiequency BiiveS kvA -- 1,7uu W
vaiiable Fiequency Biive1u kvA -- 2,Suu W
vaiiable Fiequency Biive2S kvA -- S,Suu W
Bus uuctveitical section (6uu Amp
72" high section, S)
-- 1uu W
Bus uucthoiizontal section 1,6uu
Amp2u" wiue section, S)
-- 8u W
12 in cable tiay (low voltage powei) 2S Wm 22u Wm (aveiage
value of 7S Wm)
Su in cable tiay (meuium voltage
64 Wm 7u Wm (aveiage
of 7u Wm)

Note: Besigneis shoulu iefei to manufactuieis uata foi moie uetaileu infoimation
on heat output oi eneigy uissipation. This shoulu be combineu with the anticipateu
opeiating loaus to uevelop an inventoiy of theimal loaus.

The values given in Table 4.u aie just a sample of the heat output of equipment
commonly founu in electiical iooms. These values weie taken fiom actual
measuiements (White anu Pahwa, 2uu1).

We commonly finu that manufactuieis will ovei estimate the cooling neeus of theii
equipment as a safety factoi. This can be pioblematic because basing uesign
uecisions on high uesign loaus of all of the equipment in an electiical ioom anu then
auuing an auuitional safety factoi can iesult in ovei sizing the cooling system foi the

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Inuooi aii quality is impoitant because theie is an inveise ielationship between
uust builu-up on electiical equipment anu the seivice of the electiical equipment.
This can be contiolleu thiough iegulai seivicing anu all electiical iooms shoulu be
cleaneu anu the equipment testeu at least eveiy S to S yeais (anu, uepenuing on the
seivice conuitions, possibly moie fiequently).

0ne of the motivations foi wiiting this aiticle was to biing attention to a common
pioblem that occui when electiical iooms aie placeu within paiking gaiages anu the
iooms use exhaust fan(s) on ieveise acting theimostat foi cooling. The pioblems
aie exaceibateu when the electiical iooms aie not veiy aiitight oi the entiance
uoois aie pooily sealeu.

Wheie aii quality is a concein, the way to mitigate the pioblem is to iun the
electiical ioom at a slight positive piessuie (about 2u Pascals), ensuie that the ioom
will continuously leak a small iate of aii thiough the ioom envelope when it is
ieasonably aiitight. A meuium-high efficiency filtei shoulu be useu on the aii intake.
This amount of piessuiization can be accomplisheu with 2 to 4 aii changes pei houi,
uepenuing on how aiitight the ioom is.

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Batteiies off-gas hyuiogen. Byuiogen gas is extiemely flammable anu has laige
iange of combustibility. Besigneis shall follow manufactuieis instiuctions anu the
iequiiements of the Electiical Coue foi these systems. Iueally batteiy exhaust
systems aie ueuicateu to the specific function of iemoving potentially explosive anu
coiiosive gases fiom within builuings.

D9??#-%#6 :A72 D%&(%#?'#- B+& !"#$%&'$(" *++,-
Besigneis have at least five choices when is comes to the appioach to cooling anu
ventilating electiical iooms. The following table uesciibes these appioaches anu
theii appiopiiate applications:

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Stiategy Application
Natuial ventilation Electiical iooms with low heat loaus anu in
an aiea with clean aii
Foiceu extiaction ventilation Electiical iooms with low to moueiate heat
loaus anu in an aiea with clean aii
0vei-piessuie ventilation Electiical iooms with low to moueiate heat
loaus, wheie aii quality is a concein
Cooling with ciiculateu aii Electiical iooms with high heat loaus, anu
Sepaiate cooling unit with the ioom Electiical iooms with high loaus anu the
iequiiement foi piecise contiol of aii
quality anu humiuity levels.

This is complex topic of uiscussion. We have not been able to even touch on some of
the impoitant issues that may aiise in moie sophisticateu electiical iooms such as
those housing telecommunication anu computei equipment.

Bowevei, all electiical iooms aie impoitant to the opeiation of builuings. Piopei
ventilation anu cooling is an essential element of the opeiation. Besigneis shoulu
take uue consiueiation of the enviionment, type of constiuction, type of electiical
equipment anu the ieliability iequiiements of the electiical systems in choosing the
best stiategies foi ventilation anu cooling.

D#"#$%#6 *#B#&#5$#-
ASBRAE. 2uuS. ASBRAE Banubook-Funuamentals. Atlanta: Ameiican Society of
Beating Refiigeiation anu Aii Conuitioning Engineeis, Inc.
Bagstiom, Kim, }oima Railio & Esko Tahti. 2uuS. ventilation anu Aii Conuitioning
of Electiical Equipment Rooms. Belsinki. Banubook of Inuustiial Aii
Technology. Applications.
Inciopeia, Fank P. anu Baviu P. Be Witt. 199u! #$%&'()*%+'$ %' ,-.% /&.$01-&. New
Yoik. }ohn Wiley & Sons.
White, Waiien, Ph.B. anu Anil Pahwa, Ph.B. 2uu1. ,-.% 2.+$ 1&'3 45-*%&+*.5 .$(
6'$%&'5 47)+83-$% +$ #$()0%&+.5 95.$%0. ASBRAE Reseaich Pioject 11u4-TRP.
Kansas City. Kansas State 0niveisity.