Guide to Choosing the Right Size Enclosure
for Your Project
THINKING IN 3D
When planning a project that requires putting equipment inside an outdoor weatherproof enclosure, determining the proper size enclosure needed is one of the most important decisions you will make. This is because you need to account for fitting all of the equipment, as well as planning for future serviceability and for the longevity of the equipment mounted inside.
When designing the inside of your enclosure, you have to think in 3D as you will be working within a confined space that will be installed outdoors instead of installing equipment on an interior wall or shelf. Flat surfaces provide a lot of space you can play with but with an enclosure you are locked into a specific amount of space with no room for forgiveness. Select an enclosure too small, and your equipment may not fit. The flip side is that while you can pick an enclosure that is extra large to provide lots of space, you may hurt yourself during the quoting process due to budget constraints or simply end up with an enclosure that is not aesthetically pleasing.
Why do you need to account for more than just the equipment?
Remember – you need more space than just for the equipment itself! As the integrator, you will need to factor in room for things like cable management, power supplies, power cords, and antennas, as well as considering whether or not you need extra room for expandability on the job site. This type of expandability can include things like an extra power strip, the addition of a wireless bridge or cellular modem, extra breakers or sensor equipment.
We get a lot of phone calls from integrators who reach out to us after an enclosure is full and they need ideas for how to change the way the equipment is mounted, or a better way to fit the equipment. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overfill an enclosure. Overcrowded installations, as seen above left, can cause equipment failures and waste expensive tech time on a job site. Selecting the right enclosure size for the equipment, and properly planning how to install the equipment, using things like din rail or standoffs as seen above right, will save you time and money on installation and in the future.
Things to Consider:
- What equipment are you using inside the enclosure?
- Do you need a thermostatic fan or heater installed for temperature control?
- Do you have enough space to upgrade in the future for when your customers’ needs increase? For example, switching from an 8 to a 16 port PoE or Network switch?
Do you have enough airflow for the equipment to keep it operating at maximum capacity and prevent overheating?
Cables & Wiring
- Did you include space for power or data lines to run in or out of the enclosure?
- Did you include space for termination to the equipment?
Best Ways to Mount Equipment Inside Your Enclosure
There are a large number of ways you, as an integrator, can install equipment inside your enclosure. One way is to mount equipment directly to the backplate (or with nylon standoffs) inside the enclosure, which provides equipment airflow and does not penetrate the exterior of the weatherproof enclosure. ArmorLogix’s standard aluminum weatherproof enclosures all come with an adjustable, removable backplate for this very reason. Another way of mounting or installing equipment is by using din rail. This is very common as there are a lot of din rail mountable components available in the market. Mounting directly to din rail also allows for later flexibility on the install when shifting or adding equipment. It also allows for quicker service times down the road if equipment fails or needs to be upgraded to a newer version.
Common Examples of Din Rail Use In Weatherproof Enclosures:
Other common ways of installing equipment inside a NEMA 3 or NEMA 4 weatherproof enclosure is by using Unistrut, shelves, or racks installed directly inside the enclosure. Unistrut is a lot like din rail, but is heavier duty and has its own options for accessories; Many of these accessory options can easily be picked up at local supply houses or hardware stores. Server racks or equipment shelves can also be built into or installed onto the ArmorLogix enclosure itself. This gives you freedom on site to move equipment inside your enclosure, such as a PoE or network switch, on a horizontal level rather than everything being installed vertically. Keep in mind that any mounting option that penetrates the enclosure should use a nyloc washer to prevent water, dust, etc. from getting into the enclosure and traveling down the bolt. All hardware should be either galvanized / stainless steel or aluminum to prevent corrosion from dissimilar metals.
ALTERNATIVE EQUIPMENT MOUNTING METHODS
Again, remember that it’s not just a matter of whether or not the equipment itself will fit; The power cables for the equipment as well as data or power coming in and out of the box need to be taken into consideration. At ArmorLogix, we use a combination of wire trays, and cable bundling tools to manage the cables inside the enclosure, as well as utilizing the back of the equipment mounting backplate, or special shelves (such as in our AL202222N3 / N4 enclosure) that are part of the native enclosure design. For getting power and data into the enclosure and to the equipment inside, we have used a large variety of cable management glands, liquid tight connectors, or other electrical type (i.e. junction box) weatherproof connectors that will provide a clean transition point for hardwired power and CAT6 or Fiber cabling. When connecting to wireless devices or cellular modems bulkhead connectors should be used as the main equipment can be housed inside, while the antennas need to be outside of the metal enclosure for the signal and data to transmit.
Let us help with your next Project!
Contact one of our experienced Account Managers today at (904) 674-2976 to discuss what you need to have inside your enclosure, and we can help with the design to ensure you have a more turnkey solution that is easy to work with and maintain after installation. Our in-house fabrication team will be happy to work with you and discuss mounting options, spacing, airflow, and more.