Choosing the Perfect Outdoor Enclosure: Protection Against Vandalism

When it comes to setting up cabinets outside, be it distribution, control, or switch cabinets, there are unique challenges to consider that differ from indoor installations. Climate control is just one aspect to think about, as vandalism and cyber security also require attention.

How do you ensure that your outdoor cabinet is "vandal-proof" and protected from damage? It's common to have questions like "how can I prevent damage to my electricity from vandalism?" or "how can I ensure a high level of cyber security for outdoor installations?" In this blog, we'll explore the physical security of outdoor housings for both industrial and ICT applications to help you get started.

The construction of a vandalism-proof control cabinet

When it comes to constructing a control cabinet, the weakest link can determine its strength. To ensure that the cabinet is vandal-resistant, various methods can be employed. It's important to consider the application and location, especially for outdoor installations. Will the cabinet be situated along a busy highway, a pedestrian path, or behind a fence? Unfortunately, vandals and other malicious individuals are undeterred by such obstacles.

Installing a good lock on the cabinet is the first step, whether it's a physical or electronic key. Monitoring and signaling the cabinet door's opening, along with a strict access policy, can help. But if the cabinet door can be easily breached with basic tools or by a vandal's brute force, this will provide limited protection.

Designing a construction that delays unauthorized access by tools is a viable solution. Switch cabinets often refer to a burglary-resistance construction, and values such as RC2 (Resistance Class 2) or WK2 (Weiederstandklasse 2) provide a rating of the construction's resistance. A high RC4 value indicates a safe construction that is well-suited for outdoor installations that handle crucial data traffic. To ensure safety and cybersecurity, it's crucial to determine the level of burglary resistance required and implement it in the outdoor solution's construction.

The location of your control cabinet

An outdoor housing is used for all kinds of installations. Think of controls for bridges and locks, highways and tunnels, but also for fiber optic connections and all kinds of smart solutions in Smart Cities, Smart Mobility and Smart Telco such as 5G networks. Each application has its own specific requirements, but the housing that is set up outside must in all cases be set up properly.

The housing is often placed on a buried concrete base, but it is also possible to place it on another foundation. The construction of the outdoor housing to be installed is prepared for this. For example, the mounting bolts are only accessible when the housing door is open, and the entire construction is designed for use in places where there may be a large audience. Another question that may be asked is whether collision protection should be placed around the housing to prevent, for example, a passenger car from accidentally driving into the housing.

The right protection class for a vandalism-proof cabinet

The regulations for empty enclosures, the standard IEC 62208, pay attention to many aspects of an enclosure. Think of corrosion and UV resistance, but also protection against the ingress of foreign objects and dust or the ingress of water, laid down under protection class IP. An extension of this is also the impact class; the degree of resistance to mechanical impact on this housing. This value is expressed in the IK value, often wrongly compared to vandal resistance.

The IK class has a 1-to-1 relationship with the protection class IP and describes at which energy a determined protection remains provided against the ingress of foreign bodies/dust and water. During the IK test, the housing deforms without affecting the specific protection class IP of the housing.

In practice, you see outdoor applications where dents have appeared in the sheet metal due to, for example, machine mowing on the verges. Does this have direct consequences for the degree of protection of the cabinet? Not always, but it is important to periodically assess the situation on site. Periodic maintenance extends the lifespan of the installation and appropriate measures can therefore be taken to repair the damage and thus bring the intended safety back to the desired level.

Protect your outdoor cabinet against vandalism

Are you curious what else you should pay attention to when selecting the right outdoor cabinet for your application? In this ebook  we explain what you should pay attention to when choosing an outdoor housing in order to provide the best protection in the long term.