How to Select an Outdoor Metal Enclosure

Modern technology has higher performance specifications than ever before. That's making it more difficult for buyers to source outdoor metal enclosures that can stand up to today’s rigorous demands. In addition, the expectation is that these products will last longer than they did in previous decades.

Outdoor metal enclosures can pose a unique set of challenges. They must be durable enough to withstand environmental stressors. Some may need to be easily serviced by employees. Others may need to be attractive and fit with the aesthetics of your product or brand. Outdoor enclosures can be designed and fabricated to support everything from consumer-facing kiosks and digital menu boards to utility and electrical applications and energy storage.

So what do you consider when sourcing an outdoor enclosure? We recommend reviewing your needs for:

1) Size

2) Appearance

3) Durability

4) Metal Type

5) Security

Let's take a closer look at each one!

1) Size. Consider how much space you will need inside of your metal enclosures. Why is this important? If your cabinet has heat-generating components, it can overheat if there isn't enough interior room. Also, metal enclosures should not be crowded; you need space to allow air to flow. Size can also be a significant determining factor in manufacturing processes and finishing techniques. If you require a large outdoor enclosure, you will need to partner with a supplier that can support large units' scale, meet demand and support the finishing processes, such as powder coat paint. You will also want to look at your desired enclosure weight, which affects total product weight, freight costs/ transportation, and installation.

2) Enclosure Appearance. The appearance of your outdoor metal enclosure has two main roles, aesthetic appeal for consumers' sake (such as with public transit or ticketing kiosks) and protecting against wear-and-tear from weather elements that would degrade its performance. If you partner with the right supplier, you can get both the high aesthetic appeal and durability against wear and tear, which leads us to our next point.

3) Durability. How much protection will your product need? An outdoor metal enclosure will need to withstand specific environmental stressors, including temperature changes (extreme hot/cold) and weather conditions (snow, rain, etc.). Your metal enclosure needs to deliver the level of environmental protection your product requires. Will your metal enclosure be watertight? Or are there openings in the metal enclosure to allow for venting and airflow? Many metal enclosures include vents to ensure proper airflow, maintenance access, etc., which can be an issue if installed in damp environments. These are essential factors to keep in mind since durability can be related to the manufacturing processes and your choice of metal type.

4) Metal type. Determine which type of metal is best for your outdoor enclosure. For example, do you need galvanized steel, aluminum or stainless steel? If you're looking for metal that doesn't rust and can dissipate heat, then aluminum is your best bet. If there's an environment that’s highly corrosive or has extreme temperature changes, stainless steel will do much better than aluminum. Galvanized metals offer excellent versatility and strength in many environments.

5) Security. What level of security does your enclosure need? Secure enclosures help prevent tampering and protect against weather such as hail, snow, rain, and wind. Outdoor electrical enclosures need to be secure, to keep children or animals from coming into contact with high voltage. If your enclosure or technology needs to be serviced, locking doors can help prevent unauthorized entry, theft and vandalism. Metal doors with hinges and locks can be functional and aesthetic - especially if they include high-security key lock mechanisms. Enclosure security also relates to weld/ joining integrity.

Now it's Time to Find Your Outdoor Enclosure

This blog covered some of the essential factors (size, appearance, durability, metal type and security) to consider when deciding on an outdoor metal enclosure. Keep in mind that what’s most vital for you will depend on your situation and preferences.

We hope our list has been helpful! If you’re looking for more information on how to select a supplier for your outdoor metal enclosures, use our free checklist!

Have prints and looking for a custom fabricator? Let’s talk!

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