Outdoor Digital Signage – Thinking Beyond IP and NEMA Ratings

Outdoor digital signage has a lot to contend with; from weather elements, such as rain, sleet, snow and hail, to extreme temperatures and risk of physical impact. Most outdoor digital signage enclosures are built to international standards such as the European IP rating and NEMA codes (National Electrical Manufacturers Association). While these rating systems are very useful for working out the level of protection an outdoor digital signage enclosure offers, they are not exhaustive and don’t guarantee a device will function without problems in an outdoor environment.

 Both IP ratings and NEMA codes, such as the IP65 and NEMA 4, which are commonly associated with outdoor environments, denote the level of ingress protection an outdoor digital signage enclosure provides. Ingress is the protection offered by an enclosure in preventing foreign bodies from getting inside. These bodies may be dust, rain or snow, which while important to keep out in an outdoor environment, there is more to outdoor digital signage protection than just ingress protection.

While an IP54 digital signage enclosure (or a NEMA 4 enclosure) will offer a useful guide as to the environment it can operate in, it’s important to ensure an outdoor digital signage enclosure is equipped to deal with all the hazards that outdoor digital signage faces in operation.

Temperature for instance, is something not covered by either the IP rating system or the NEMA codes, and yet any IP65 digital signage enclosure not equipped to cope with the variable temperatures of an outdoor environment will soon fail. Both ranges of temperature, high heat and freezing cold, need defending against to prevent screen failure, so as well as ensuring a screen is waterproof to NEMA 4 or IP65, the Digital signage enclosure also needs to be able to cope with seasonal temperature changes.

Physical protection is also something not covered by either the IP or NEMA rating system. Again, an outdoor digital signage system unable to cope with impacts, either accidental or deliberate vandalism, won’t last very long in an outdoor environment. For this reason outdoor digital signage enclosures need to be rugged enough to withstand impacts and attempts at vandalism.  This often means be solidly constructed from a tough material such as steel, as well as having some form of shatterproof screen protection that won’t smash.

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