46 ELECTRIC.IE • The Magazine & Website for the Irish Electrical Industry • Rittal The need for outdoor systems is increasing, due to the everexpanding requirement for all things to be connected. This need will only increase but it is paramount that when a system is to be placed outside serious consideration, is given to the design of the housing that the critical infrastructure equipment, will sit in. Whether it be telecommunication, rail, airports or highways the overriding factors are the same. Outdoor enclosures usually contain, critical infrastructure equipment and as such we need to ensure that we are protecting that equipment. The key question from within industry is, why would you put equipment in an enclosure that isn’t specifically designed to work in that environment? Rittal's product manager for industrial and IT enclosures Emma Ryde, often asks, why do people continuously put important pieces of equipment into enclosures that will most likely leak, allow the equipment inside to overheat, or cause condensation during the winter months, as well as offering no form of security protection, against individuals who wish to gain access, to damage or remove the equipment. ‒Author: Emma Ryde Outdoor solutions: not all enclosures are created equally In larger or more critical applications, the equipment placed internally, will cost in excess of tens of thousands of pounds, in industry today more than ever before we are seeing businesses, choosing enclosures based on cost, rather than its ability to protect critical equipment. The enclosure itself, is just as important as the equipment it is protecting. It is key to bare in mind that if the enclosure fails, so will the infrastructure it is protecting. When deciding on the most suitable outdoor solution for your project or network, Rittal's experts advise you decide what factors are most critical to your application and do thorough research before you select an enclosure, simply because its labelled ‘Outdoor’ does not mean it has the right characteristics, to face the elements and securely protect your critical equipment. Protection from the elements included When an enclosure spends its lifetime outdoors, it will most likely face many years of the hottest summers and the harshest winters, the most vulnerable part of the enclosure is usually the door seals. Protecting the door seals means prevention from water leaks into the enclosure, this in turn increases the enclosures lifespan. Water that is contaminated can cause degradation and over time the seal will fail, in many cases the seals can’t be replaced. This then becomes a costly x with the requirement for a new door or a new enclosure. Adding an after market seal often means a compromise and the IP rating no longer being valid. Water sitting on the seal during the colder months can freeze, as the water expands it will push the door away from the body of the housing and again, allows water inside. The best way to avoid these types of issues, is to choose an enclosure that has an overhanging roof, or a design that protects the doors seals. Standard enclosures have no such design features, meaning often they are unsuitable to be placed outdoors.