Is Hand Wiring Cleanroom Lights and Fan Filters a Thing of the Past? The Case for Modular Power Distribution

The cleanroom ceiling grid (shown above) is completely filled with HEPA-filtered fan units, lights, and ceiling tiles. A construction team installing or retrofitting this room – whether the room is stick-built or modular – will face major challenges. Each FFU and light must be individually hard-wired for operation; since the ceiling isn’t walkable, this task is costly, labor-intensive, and inefficient. A cleanroom maintenance crew will face similar obstacles in the event of room reconfiguration or relocation, or FFU change-out and filter replacement.

Hand Wiring Pitfalls: Traditional Cleanroom Electrical System Installation

A typical cleanroom electrical grid can include hundreds of fan filter units and LED lighting panels. Hand wiring each of these fan filters to electrical hookups and any supporting IOT or wireless devices is a process that can take a 2 - 3 person team anywhere from multiple days to multiple weeks for completion.

Hand wiring is tedious, slow, and prone to human error, especially for ceiling grid installations that require standing on a ladder for 8 - 10 hours a day. Monotony, discomfort, and fatigue are typical predecessors for mistakes and unnecessary shortcuts -- some are more serious and difficult to diagnose than others.

Cleanroom Startup And Troubleshooting: The Moment Of Truth

When things go right, cleanroom startup can be the most rewarding part of a cleanroom installation. When things go wrong, identifying and diagnosing the problem can not only be maddening but also lead to more questions than answers.

What Do I Do When a Cleanroom Startup Fails?

First, you probably made sure that the fan filter units were set above their minimum operating fan speed, reviewed any error codes in the operating manual, and phoned a colleague to cover any obvious solutions. If your cleanroom does not include a central control panel with power and fan speed indicators, testing the air velocity of each fan filter unit can be a timely process that doesn't render any new information.

Was your next step to get on a ladder and start rooting around for loose connections or faulty wiring in the ceiling bay? Or did you start with referencing the error codes displayed on the cleanroom control unit? Or did you start calling a host of contractors, handymen, and manufacturers for assistance?

The Plausible Deniability Dilemma: Pesky Cleanroom Electrical Issues

Cleanroom construction projects can include a dozen involved parties, most of whom only worked on a specific assignment without requiring an intricate understanding of the system as a whole. If several trades and subcontractors are involved during the installation of electrical wiring, ceiling grid, fan filter units, and lighting installation, who is responsible for diagnosing and fixing improperly installed components, faulty components, wiring mixups, or potential electrical code violations? For cleanrooms with linked fan filter controllers and integrated sensors, a single faulty connection in the chain can cause faults and error codes throughout the entire fan filter system.

Loose contractual agreements open the door to plausible deniability, finger-pointing, and costly return visits, especially if contracts did not include specific liability assignments. The customer will most likely be responsible for any additional troubleshooting and repair costs. The best way to avoid late-evolving electrical issues is to simplify and standardize the electrical infrastructure from the get-go.

The Case for Modular Cleanroom Power Control & Distribution Systems

Modular Cleanroom Electrical Systems allow the removal and relocation of individual power sources and electrical connections without a major interruption to other electrical devices and/or lighting fixtures. For cleanroom operations, the ability to install and troubleshoot additional fan filter units, lights, or electrical connections allow rapid revision or expansion when adding square footage or when new or existing processes require cleaner ISO classification values.

Cleanroom Electrical Connectors, Fittings, And Installation - Simplified

Terra's Cleanroom Control Panels and Power Distribution Modules (PDMs) are specifically designed to simplify electrical connections, reduce headaches, and get cleanroom projects completed faster.

The core benefits of a Cleanroom Power Control & Distribution System include scalability, ease of construction, and faster validation of the cleanroom environment while also meeting fire and safety codes.

No hardwiring is required to connect and provide power to the fan filters, lights, and duplex PDMs. Not only are these systems much faster and easier to connect, but they also reduce the complexity and frequency of electrical touchpoints that can lead to human error.

  • UL-listed, scalable, plug-and-play cleanroom control system
  • Powers network of HEPA-filtered fan units, lights, controllers and outlets
  • Significant cost savings compared to standard, hard-wired systems
  • Streamlines room permitting, compliance and certification
  • Optimizes cleanroom relocation, FFU change-out and filter replacement
  • Supports rapid cleanroom installation for time-sensitive projects
  • UL-listed individual components: FFUs, lights, controllers and outlets

What is a Power Distribution Module?

Power Distribution Modules (PDMs) bundle electrical components in an accessible housing that makes it easy to add fan/filter units or lights if requirements change. The PDM connects to a central control panel with operation status indicators to provide visual confirmation of cleanroom component operation.

Terra’s PDM system consists of Primary, Secondary, and Booster modules that each power connections for up to 5 fan filters and lights, as well as many other optional connections for WIFI and IOT connected software.

Double PDM Diagram

Electrical Connections For Modular Cleanroom Installation

PDMs use 3-pin or 4-pin quick connect fittings to power all FFUs and lights, no matter the cleanroom size. The expertise of a licensed electrician is only needed to connect the main voltage to the Primary, Secondary, Booster, and Duplex PDM Modules. The PDM modules must be wired to a dedicated 35A fused 120V circuit or a 30A fused 240V circuit. By using a modular PDM system, contractors save time, money, and resources during cleanroom installation, expansion, or modification.

Advantages of Terra's Ul-Listed Cleanroom Electrical Components

Once installation is complete, the cleanroom must be permitted and certified before it is operational. Customized cleanroom assemblies without UL-listed components face major hurdles from building inspectors and certification agencies, causing the local permitting and compliance process to be lengthy, cumbersome and expensive.

Terra’s cleanroom control systems include UL-listed components as a complete assembly. UL listed electrical components undergo safety and integrity inspection by a third party. Each individual component (FFUs, lights, controllers, PDMs) is UL-listed, streamlining the permitting and certification process and supporting construction teams facing tight project timelines.

PDF: UL Listed PDM Components and Diagram

Fan Filter Units, Smart Control Features, and Add-Ons

When integrated with Terra’s Power Distribution Modules, Smart Control Panels allow remote management of FFU performance, fan speed control, and data logging. Once you select the FFU zone on the console, you can adjust the fan speed up or down to “dial-in” the proper air velocity, internal pressure, and air change rate. Because these zones generally correspond to separate rooms or processing areas, this variable control lets you balance FFU performance from one cleanliness zone to another, ensuring that you maintain the pressure gradients and air change rates for non-homogenous classifications.

Quick Connect Fittings

Terra fan filter units provide a simple, quick connect system when fan filter units require replacement, servicing, troubleshooting, or installation. All electrical lines terminate in quick-connect fittings for easy installation. A status indicator light glows continuously to show FFUs are turned on and flash to indicate that FFUs are turned off.

Cleanroom LED Lights

The PDM system allows easy integration of additional lights in either standard LED or UV-C disinfection configuration. LED lighting produces about 15% of the heat that fluorescent does. Optional LED flat panel configurations include dimming and 5 selectable hues for perfect color balance.

UV Lights

Although UV-C lamps and UV mounted cleanroom lights may not produce an entirely sterile surface, they can maintain consistently low microbial loads throughout a wide range of operations and eliminate bioburden spikes that could necessitate extensive testing and decontamination measures.

Emergency Lights

Emergency LED lighting allows for temporary backup lighting during a power outage. When receiving power, the light both operates normally and charges the emergency battery. A UL recognized emergency driver allows the LED fixture to be used for normal and emergency operation.

Shop Cleanroom Electrical Components and PDMs Online

Shop Terra Universal Power Distribution Modules (PDMs) online for immediate pricing, or contact a Terra sales specialist via phone, webchat, or email for more information. Terra’s UL-listed components are ready-to-ship from Terra warehouses and available for immediate delivery!