GL has designed climate controlled outdoor cabinets that house sophisticated electronic equipment, such as
computers and servers consisting of microprocessors, fiber optic devices, Ethernet routers and switches, UPS units,
and other semiconductor components. These electronic systems and components are very susceptible to high
temperatures and high humidity. Overheating and condensation inside the cabinet would shorten their life
expectancies and cause major failures. Hence, they require an environment controlled for heat and humidity for
GL's experts studied the environmental conditions inside the cabinets and leveraged their extensive experience to
design and specify climate controlled cabinets. The study of the environment inside a typical cabinet, housing a server
and a few active fiber optic components, showed how the temperatures inside an outdoor cabinet could vary widely
depending on the season and the time of day. Figure 1 shows that temperatures near sensitive systems can easily
rise above 130°F (red line) in summer months when the outside air temperature hovers in the 90s (°F)
Technologies available for controlling the environment inside the cabinets are:
- Heat exchangers
- Air conditioners
A simple forced-air cooling system utilizing ambient air is usually adequate in clean, non-hazardous environments
having acceptable ambient temperatures. Fans or blowers, combined with a low-cost air filter, would meet the heat
removal needs of typical electronic and electrical equipment. Some guidelines to select fans or blowers:
- Fans may be used if ambient cooling air can be used and the system has a low static pressure.
- Blowers may be used if ambient cooling air can be used and the system has a higher static pressure.
Heat exchangers and air conditioners:
Selection of a particular type is site and application specific. Some guidelines to select the right type:
- Heat exchangers may be used if the temperature inside a cabinet can be allowed to remain moderately higher than
- Air conditioner may be used if the temperature inside a cabinet needs to be equal to or lower than the ambient.
A heat exchanger consists of a fluid-filled ‘heat pipe' assembly while an air conditioner is typically a freon type. Heat
exchanger units are only good for very minor cooling needs, for cabinets equipped with relatively small amount of heat
dissipation, and in moderate climates. Even with minimal equipment installed inside a cabinet, a heat exchanger would
not come close to cooling it adequately when outside temperature is in the 80s (°F). The heat exchangers do not provide
sufficient cooling in a hostile environment even when combined with fans, blowers, sun-shields etc., and air conditioners
provide a good alternative solution.
Factors to Consider
Designing a climate controlled, modern-day communications cabinet is complex and requires extensive knowledge
and experience. Some factors that go into design considerations are:
Size and type of communications equipment
Equipment placement inside cabinet
Mounting systems for the equipment
Total estimated power dissipation
Site location requirements
Proper grout sealants and conduits
Protection standards, grounding, etc.
Environment (climate, sun-loading)
Type of thermal and humidity management
Security systems and access
Remote monitoring and control
Using the information gathered during the above study, along with our knowledge and experience, GL's engineers
have designed and specified climate controlled outdoor cabinets. Figure 2 shows the temperatures inside a typical
GL-designed climate controlled outdoor cabinet. The graph shows that the air temperature near the top of the cabinet
interior, shown in black, stays very close to 73°F, even when the outside temperature reaches 96°F. The
temperature near the hot fan exhaust of a high power dissipation fiber optic communications chassis, shown in red,
stays nearly constant close to 90°F, which is perfectly acceptable. GL's climate control solution has, thus, insured
that our customers' communications links remain highly reliable even under adverse weather conditions.