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It may come as a surprise, not really, that I am not a mechanical engineer. Phew! Now that my biggest confession is out of the way, let’s get down to business; Thermal Management Solutions.


We’re going to throw a little basic information in here just to give everyone a level playing field, or what can be known as the “Some people didn’t know this, but…” section.

In the commercial automation market, “Thermal Management” can be loosely defined as the process of maintaining ideal operating temperatures for electronics; whether this is heating and drying or cooling and air exchange.

Many times excess heat is dispelled through a series of heatsinks, fans and heat exchangers placed strategically within the enclosure to optimize the natural laws of thermal dynamics…I think I remember my science teacher telling me hot air rises at some point.

How does reviewing high school science help better explain what might be helpful to you when working in thermal management? It goes a long way to better understand why commercial/industrial thermal management solutions have such high stakes in our industry with a plethora of options for all of your applications.

Let’s start at the beginning with 5 things I didn’t know about Thermal Management Solutions:

In the realm of commercial automation, we work primarily with industrial chillers and enclosures.

We’ve all dealt with some type of thermal management if we happen to be working on a computer; each one comes with a form of heat sink in order to dispel the bit of heat put off by your CPU, GPU and disk drives.

HOWEVER, that does not mean that every heatsink is built alike; the same can be said for the fans and radiant heaters we happen to carry. The primary difference comes down to design and installation, with products being made to specifically fit within an industrial enclosure.

This being said, that hasn’t stopped our tech support from receiving calls asking how to install a Pfannenberg Heater under someone’s desk to provide extra heat to their keyboard, or the time someone wanted to temperature control their dog house…love the idea but unfortunately not what our products are designed to do.

We actually covered a similar topic explaining how commercial automation components differ from other industries, check it out below!

Industrial Chillers cannot be used in residential applications without serious rewiring.

Moving right along to the opposite side of the temperature spectrum, industrial chillers also happen to be tricky to use in a residential application.

I’ve learned, after many lessons from our tech support, that industrial components and residential power supplies do not play nicely. What I mean by that is, let’s say someone happened to buy a Pfannenberg chiller because they wanted to create their own DIY candy-making-environmentally-controlled wonderland. Not as easy as just hooking the thing up and BAM! Insta-Climate Control.

For starters we’re going to have to address the issue of single phase residential power to three phase input on the chiller. Mind you, we haven’t even mentioned the fact the chiller’s motor may end up needing speed control as well, meaning another VFD is likely. This being said, I will never try to convince anyone from their dreams of being the At-Home Willy Wonka, but it may be wise to contact an electrician before importing your Oompa Loompas.

Fluctuating temperatures are a panel’s worst nightmare…

Remember those thermal dynamic laws from earlier? They’re back! As our systems integrations guys will tell you; form and function both play a pivotal role in an enclosure’s effective design.

The balance between optimizing space and ensuring the electrical components are protected against environmental factors can pose a challenge for any electrician. Living in Illinois, we’re pretty familiar with fluctuating temperatures occurring every 15 minutes or so. How do outdoor enclosures circumvent these issues?

The solution is a configuration of specially rated enclosures (you guessed it, we’ve even got blogs all about NEMA and IP Ratings and outdoor applications!), vents, heaters, fans and cooling units placed strategically within the panel to best regulate the fluctuating temperature and humidity.

HVAC VFDs are specifically designed to be control-centric and fit within certain dimensional parameters.

While we are all familiar with our residential thermostat, it may come as a surprise to some that there is not just a bigger version of that same thermostat for industrial buildings. I’ll admit it, I never quite realized how complicated these systems could be; incorporating components such as pumps, motors, condensers, compressors and cooling towers just to name a few.

A number of factors affect the choice of controller used in these systems but knowing that we can’t just flip an on/off switch to control a building’s environment makes variable torque drives a dependable option. HVAC-specific drives, such as the LSIS SP100 and Weg  HVW701, are designed with additional control and communication options to better meet the thermal management industry. Not to mention they tend to be dimensionally different from their non-HVAC counterparts.

MWA’s greatest strength in the Thermal Management world is our ability to source replacement parts for chiller applications.

Marshall Wolf Automation proudly avoids the term “One-Trick Pony” by including three separate divisions: systems integration, distribution and e-commerce. This gives us a unique opportunity to provide support to a variety of industries; thermal management notwithstanding.

Where we shine is our ability to collect resources and no-how from our in-house tech support team and our vendors to offer a variety of solutions to you, our customers. Need a replacement filter for your Pfannenberg chiller? We’ve got those and more! Did your motor from 20 years finally die? Our guys can find you a reliable replacement that won’t break the bank. The next time you’re in a bind, remember Marshall Wolf Automation is here to help!

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