Outdoor Digital Signage Enclosures – Understanding IP Ratings

Posted by: Richard Williams | Posted on: | 0 Comments

Any outdoor digital signage or display system operating in an environment where there is water or elements such as dust that could damage the electronics of an LCD screen needs to have adequate protection against such threats.

For this reason, international and national standards were introduced to ensure that devices operating in such conditions could withstand the environment. These standards are known as the European IP Rating (Ingress Protection) and the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association NEMA codes.

Outdoor digital signage is one such application for these rating systems. Any screen that is designed to operate outside needs to adhere to the NEMA and IP ratings standards to provide some sort of guidance to customers as to the type of environment the digital signage enclosure can endure.

Both the rating systems describe the type of elements that a digital signage enclosure will keep out. This ranges from liquids to solids. And while both rating systems use different criteria, there are similarities to both the NEMA and IP ratings.

IP ratings for Liquids

Keeping out moisture and liquids is vital for outdoor digital signage, mainly because of rainfall. Any screen operating outside needs to withstand rainfall and the minimum ratings that assure of this are IP54 and NEMA 4. With the IP system, the second digit refers to the water resistant nature of the enclosure, the high the number, the more resistant it is. An IP54 enclosure will withstand rainfall and splashes.

However, for an enclosure that may have to endure procedures such as jet or power washing, higher IP ratings would be required to make sure the enclosure can cope with the multi-directional and high pressure jets of water. Commonly, an IP65 enclosure is used for such areas. The NEMA 4 rating is usually sufficient to endure outdoor environments and multi direction water splashes, but the NEMA rating does go even higher for enclosures that have to endure submersion in water..

IP ratings for Solids

Both the NEMA and IP ratings systems also suggest protection against particles such as dust. Dust can be equally destructive for a digital signage screen as it can get into the electronics and cause short circuits, overheating and clog up moving parts such as fans. With the IP system, the first digit represents the protection offered against solids.

Again, the higher the number the better the protection. For dusty environments and outdoor locations, IP54 is generally sufficient, but obviously, IP65 offers even more protection. In the NEMA system, NEMA 4 also provides adequate protection against wind-blown dust and debris from outdoor environments, but can also withstand dusty locations such as warehouses and construction areas.

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