top of page

Choosing a great rack for the great outdoors

An outdoor rack? A metal junction box you mean? Far from it – a modern outdoor server rack is so much more.

Today’s outdoor server cabinets not only allow you to store equipment but offer quick access to network equipment, ensuring the required conditions for storage, protection and unauthorised access are met.

These outdoor racks are typically used for smart city projects like smart traffic monitoring, surveillance, fibre laying and in the telecommunication industry.

So, what are some of the points to consider when selecting the right outdoor unit?

Thermal management

This is an important factor as it helps accommodate the heat load from contained equipment as well as counter the build-up of solar radiation. Thermal management is done in one of several ways:

  1. DAC or Direct Air Cooling: Here, vents, fans and filters, DAC systems are open-loop systems that bring ambient air into the interior of the enclosure for cooling. DAC systems are reliable and have a long life expectancy.

  2. HEX or Air-to-air Heat Exchange: These closed loop systems provide above-ambient temperature management, which means they prevent intrusion of particulate contaminants, moisture and dust from entering the enclosure.

Point to note: Equipment can also be engineered to accommodate multiple temperature zones. For instance, storing batteries as close to room temperature as possible as elevated temperatures shorten life, while at the same time allowing for electronics to be stored at higher temperatures if need be.

Power Distribution Units (PDUs)

These are an important consideration in outdoor units as they evenly disperse power to servers over the entire power strip. These server racks require rack mount power strips specifically designed for outdoor use. They usually mount vertically or at the back of the cabinet and are of two types – standard and intelligent.

While standard power strips are more basic and only display information like fuse replacement indicators and power output, they need to be managed in-person and on-site. Intelligent power strips provide remote power control, which allows for troubleshooting from any location with an internet connection. This also reduces server downtime.

Unit Size

Double check on the unit size before purchase. The rack must have enough internal space to house your current requirements as well as accommodate planned future expansion. Keep in mind space for accessories, such as environmental monitoring devices, monitors, and battery back-up. The rack’s external dimensions must be appropriate for the floor or wall space. Use the right rack-loading techniques, for instance placing heavy items at the bottom to prevent a rack from becoming too top-heavy. Also, ensure that equipment is placed in a convenient way in case there is a need to access or remove equipment.


There are several measures you can take to improve the security of the equipment that is stored outside. To begin with, consider purchasing server racks with locking front and rear doors. Second, look at environmental monitoring devices to monitor your racks as they will alert against water leaks, temperature spikes and so on. An anti-vandal secure design eliminates unauthorized access to internal objects and their damage. A smart locking system needs to be considered to prevent unauthorised access.

Hardy Racks has a range of outdoor wall, pole and floor mount racks designed for outdoor applications. These racks are corrosion-resistant and weather-proof, and are designed for extreme temperatures. The compact design of the racks offers heightened protection. Contact us today for more information on outdoor racks.


bottom of page