Deploying IT Equipment in Uncontrolled Environments
July 3, 2019 / by Rittal Marketing

The Edge can lead to some dark and ugly places

You know the picture: A nicely lit white space with ample space surrounding IT equipment in a comfortable environment. Nice, right? But this is not always the case for customers deploying IT loads closer to their point of use. These applications, referred to as Edge applications, are often installed in places where IT equipment is not designed to operate. Think of an active factory floor with millions of dollars of IT computer power now standing next to a welding station. These uncontrolled environments create unique requirements when it comes to operating conditions, infrastructure footprint, climate control, management and more.

Uncontrolled or unconditioned space means “dirty” environments where dust, sparks and even water droplets roam free. IT managers of equipment in this space can either choose to build an isolated environment or small computer room on site, or they can deploy a self-contained solution in an enclosure or a stand-alone container. The standard network/server enclosure is a natural footprint design for deployment to accommodate traditional 19-inch equipment in a small footprint; however, the standard network/server design and standards do not take into consideration dust and other contaminants. In this application the IT manager now needs the benefits and compact design of the traditional network/server enclosure with the ability to protect the sensitive IT equipment from the harsh environment and surrounding contaminants. These design requirements lend themselves well to traditional Industrial standards where Ingress Protection or (IP) Rating standards can be of assistance.

As a result, more and more IT installations need to be rethought considering the tested and proven standards of International Protection Marking, IEC standard 60529, sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking. The standards themselves exist to more clearly define performance criteria that avoids vague marketing terms such as “waterproof.” For example, smart phone manufactures have started to publish IP68 certification as a feature that means the device can survive in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. For users deploying IT equipment in “dirty” environments this usually means deciding between IP5x or IP6x level of protection with IP5x most commonly meeting the operator’s needs.

IT equipment for uncontrolled environments
Ingress Protection Marking


IP55 or greater is fast becoming the protection standard of choice for these environments. That said, these standards do not address the climate control needs of the sensitive IT equipment that is now fully enclosed with minimal airflow, at best. Left at its own mercy, the IT equipment will quickly overheat. The IP 55 rated enclosure now requires a direct climate control solution that can provide the appropriate conditioned air to the equipment while exhausting it at the same time. The ability to provide the necessary mechanical piping can be limited or impossible, requiring an all in one, plug and play climate control system that can continually operate in an industrial environment while minimizing the footprint.

For more information about our climate control solutions and much more for Edge environments, check out our Edge Infrastructure handbook.

IP 55 Enclosure Characteristics:

  • Protection from dirt, dust, oil, and other non-corrosive material
  • Complete protection from contact with enclosed equipment
  • Protection from water, up to water projected by a nozzle against enclosure from any direction
  • Available in aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless steel
  • Available in wall-mounted, free standing, trough, and JIC box
  • Engraving, silk-screening, or anodizing services available
  • Custom with cutouts, insulation, hinges, latches, or locks

Additional Resources

Rittal Edge Infrastructure Handbook

How Industry 4.0 Is Moving to the Edge

Rittal Edge Reference Designs

Rittal Edge Management and Security Solutions

Rittal Edge Cooling Solutions

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