Thermal Management for Outdoor Computer Cabinets

Posted by Jennifer Bissell on May 24, 2018 9:36:29 AM

Installing electronics outdoors, in a sealed computer enclosure, will present a series of challenges. 


If the proper thermal management is not maintained on the inside of an enclosure cabinet, humidity and high temperatures will pose serious threats to electronics. It is imperative that the enclosure provides a suitable operating environment – thus helping to extend the lifetime of the electronics.

A good rule of thumb is to have the system integrator specify a system that maintains temperatures below the recommended operating temperatures. 

3 Popular Ways to Keep Computer Enclosures ‘Cool’ This Summer

1. Air Conditioner

Cabinets that need to be maintained below the external ambient temperature will most likely require an air conditioning system. An air conditioner is a closed loop system that does not allow outside air inside of the enclosure. Air conditioners do require regular filter maintenance (replacement or cleaning) to ensure the system will work properly. 

IS603027-4X-Standing-Enclosure-IceStation-TITAN-NEMA-4X-Stainless-Steel-ITSENCLOSURES-icestation2. Heat Exchanger

If the expected ambient temperature is the same or below the temperature the electronics need to be maintained inside the enclosure, a heat exchanger is a possible solution. Heat exchangers are desirable because of their lower operating and maintenance costs.

3. Passive Cooling/Vents

If the enclosure will not be exposed to direct weather and located in a generally mild climate, passive cooling may be a viable option. Enclosure venting on the sides, top, or bottom of the enclosure are possible areas that allow heat to escape and promote airflow throughout the cabinet. Passive systems are virtually maintenance-free and require no power.

How do you know what system works best?

The internal air temperature will be determined by the heat that is generated by the electronics on the inside of the computer enclosure. Research the heat output or wattage each piece of equipment (on average) produces, as well as, the suggested operating temperature range. Once you have this information, understand the highest and lowest ambient external temperature that exists. Other important factors include: solar exposure, enclosure construction, and the shape of the enclosure. Work with a knowledgeable enclosure expert for an accurate recommendation on thermal management.

For More Information:
-- 3 Types of Enclosure Cooling for NEMA 4X Computer Enclosures
-- 4 Tips for Determining Computer Enclosure Thermal Management
-- Regular Maintenance on Thermal Management is Important!

IS602827-04 NEMA 4 Freestanding Computer Enclosure


Topics: Enclosure Thermal Management