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One Page Guide: Electronics in enclosure heat: rules of thumb

 What’s the issue?

Different Thermal modelling software abounds these days, but it is often very helpful to have simple calculations to hand that indicate whether or not heat will be a factor in the design of electronics.

This article presents some very simple formulas from which it may ascertained whether convection (natural or otherwise) will be needed for heat producing electronics in a sealed enclosure made from an insulating material, e.g., plastic.


How long will it take for the electronics to get too hot?


Working PCBAs (printed circuit boards)  are obviously heat sources. If PCBAs are put in enclosures that have no ventilation, the only heat loss is governed by the ability of what might be a plastic enclosure to dissipate heat. Sometimes it is nevertheless necessary to enclose with an air tight seal. It is useful to work out how long it will take the heat source to heat above an acceptable level. The calculations below allow this to be done.

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