What Is a 5G Outdoor Cabinet?
5G outdoor cabinets, also referred to as 5G cabinets or 5G enclosures, are boxes designed to house and protect the electrical equipment to support 5G-LTE technology. Made of metals, plastics or a combination of the two material types, 5G outdoor equipment enclosures serve the following primary purposes.
- Equipment protection: An enclosure's primary purpose is to protect 5G cables and equipment from damage caused by environmental and physical conditions. The cabinet is mechanically robust and sealed, preventing costly damage from weather conditions, impacts and other factors.
- Equipment mounting: 5G enclosures facilitate the easy mounting of cables, wireless access points and other equipment essential for networks. Instead of mounting components and connections on exposed surfaces, house them in a single protected environment.
- Equipment organization: 5G enclosures allow you to keep your equipment organized in a single place, making it easy for personnel to access during maintenance procedures.
Enclosures come in various sizes and styles to accomplish these primary tasks.
What Do Outdoor Cabinets Protect Against?
Outdoor enclosures protect cables and network components from various environmental and physical conditions, including the following.
- Contamination from dust, dirt and other debris
- Minor physical impacts, vibration and strong winds
- Solar heat and UV exposure
- Temperature extremes
- Corrosion from water and minor chemical exposure
- Protection against water damage from humidity and precipitation
Such protections will vary in strength between models, depending on the materials and designs used, but most enclosures provide basic protection in these areas. In turn, these protection features also result in impressive longevity for most cabinet models.
5G Enclosure Features
To protect against environmental conditions and make them easy for technicians to work with, outdoor network cabinets tend to have some core design traits.
- Sealed doors: Enclosure doors feature a reliable seal to prevent the ingress of moisture and dust. These doors also lock to prevent unauthorized people from reaching into or tampering with the enclosure. Doors, lids or access panels may also feature hinges that stay open for easy access for personnel.
- Backplates: Also known as enclosure panels or mounting plates, backplates provide a surface within the enclosure for equipment mounting.
- Cable entrances: Cable entrances are pre-cut or prepared openings in the enclosure that provide outlets for cables.
- Heating and cooling: Outdoor enclosures will often have air conditioning and integrated heating to help keep components from facing temperature extremes. This feature helps improve battery lives for components and outdoor battery backup systems. These will usually come with air filters as well to prevent dust from entering the enclosure.
- Sealing and protective equipment: Outdoor enclosures use gaskets and O-rings to seal surfaces and protect against dirt and moisture. Additionally, grommets in these enclosures protect and secure cables.
- Mounting equipment: Outdoor enclosures may be ground-mounted, on poles or on building exteriors, and will feature mounting equipment to facilitate.
Additional features may also be available, depending on the size, type and application of the cabinet in question. Some variations may include more fans and vents, cable and more.
NEMA Enclosure Ratings
Many enclosures come with ratings from various regulatory agencies. These ratings show the cabinet has passed testing that evaluates its ability to handle specific conditions. The most commonly used ratings for outdoor network cabinets are those from the National Electrical Manufacturer Association, an organization that sets standards for electrical components.
The NEMA rating system defines the environments in which people can safely use an electrical enclosure. To receive a rating, enclosures must go through stringent testing procedures to evaluate their ability to protect against temperature extremes, corrosive materials, dust and water, among other factors. Some ratings are only for indoor applications, but suitable ratings for outdoor applications include the following.
- Type 3: Type 3 includes weather-resistant outdoor enclosures that withstand rain, snow, sleet and windblown dust.
- Type 4: Type 4 includes outdoor cabinets that resist the same conditions as Type 3 enclosures, but are also resistant to water ingress during sustained water spray.
- Type 6: Type 6 outdoor enclosures resist all conditions that Type 4 enclosures do, but can also handle temporary submersion in water without allowing ingress.
NEMA uses suffixes to express variations of these ratings, which indicate the lack of protection or additional protection against a specific factor. These include the following.
- R: This suffix indicates a lack of protection against windblown dust, which is common in 3R and 3RX enclosures.
- S: This indicator demonstrates the mechanism resists sleet and remains operable when covered in ice. You'll often see this in 3S and 3SX enclosures.
- X: This variation indicates that the enclosure protects against corrosive agents, which is typical of 3X, 3RX, 3SX and 4X enclosures.
- P: This suffix indicates that the enclosure protects against water ingress after prolonged submersion and is common in 6P cabinets.
Typical ratings for outdoor enclosures are types 3, 3R, 4 and 4X. When comparing cabinets, look for NEMA ratings and consider how these will affect the enclosure's ability to operate in your desired application.
5G Enclosure Applications
5G outdoor enclosures aren't only applicable to 5G network components. You can also use these cabinets to house and store essential elements of the following applications:
- Fiber optics
- Back haul
- Base station
- Public safety
If you're looking for a cabinet that suits the needs of a particular application, speak with a specialist to determine what features and models will work best.
Contact Multilink for Custom 5G Solutions Today
If you need an outdoor network cabinet, Multilink has a range of options to choose from. Fabricated and powder-coated at our Ohio facility, Multilink cabinets suit various applications and climates. They feature options such as air conditioning, tamper switches and heat exchangers, so you can have confidence your equipment will be safe in a Multilink cabinet. Whatever your requirements, we have an enclosure to meet your needs.
Multilink is an industry-leading manufacturer of telecommunication products. With over 35 years of experience creating innovative and versatile solutions in the industry, you can trust us to provide quality products every time. Learn more about our selection online and contact us for a free quote today.