How Summer Heat Affects Your Electrical Equipment


As it gets hotter and hotter, it's important to keep in mind how high ambient temperatures affect your electrical equipment's thermal life expectancy and what you can do to keep your equipment cool.

The Importance of Insulation

Electrical equipment life expectancy is all about insulation. Insulation is the quality of electrical equipment that ensures you don't have current flow where you don't want it, for instance to ground. Most of the failures in electrical equipment can be traced back to an insulation failure in some shape or form.

Heat Increases Reaction Rates

In 1889 Svante Arrhenius proposed an equation for the temperature dependence of reaction rates. A simple generalization that can be drawn from his equation is that for many common chemical reactions at room temperature, a 10°C increase in temperature doubles the reaction rate.

Keep It Cool

One of the main tenets for sound electrical and electronic maintenance is to keep your equipment cool. This is true for all aspects of electron flow from the smallest microprocessors in computers to the largest power generation, transmission and distribution equipment.

Why Summer Is Tougher on Your Equipment

All electrical equipment has a thermal life span that begins the day it is manufactured. This thermal life span is affected by both the temperature generated by current flow and the ambient temperature of the air around it. So equipment is at the greatest risk when operated at or beyond its maximum rating during periods of high ambient temperature. That is why summer months are significantly harder on electrical equipment and why we typically see a spike in electrical equipment failures in the summer.

How You Can Beat the Heat

Simple maintenance practices such as regularly and thoroughly cleaning electrical equipment will help. Dust and contamination inhibit the ability of equipment to dissipate heat properly.

Your air conditioning and chill water systems should be maintained with as much vigilance as your electrical equipment. Climate control and an increased maintenance cycle are essential.

Even if your equipment makes it through the summer without a failure, remember that this period has accelerated the thermal degradation of your equipment and could still contribute to premature failure.

National Field Services can help you handle the challenges of summer heat with an improved maintenance planning program or emergency repair services in the event of a failure. It's no sweat, just get in touch.

Return to Summer 2017 Field Notes

Equipment is at the greatest risk when operated at or beyond its maximum rating during periods of high ambient temperature.