Outdoor Computers & PCs (Industrial Grade Embedded Systems)


Whether you’re looking for information on outdoor computers and PCs or you’re looking to buy an outdoor computer, you’ve come to the right place. We will explain what outdoor computers are, as well as provide you with the best source for buying outdoor PCs. 

What Are Outdoor Computers? 

Outdoor computers are industrial-grade embedded computers that can handle deployment in volatile outdoor environments. Outdoor PCs are able to withstand frequent exposure to shock, vibration, dust, debris, and sometimes even water. Industrial outdoor computers are able to withstand such challenging environments because they are engineered and built to withstand the harshest outdoor deployments. Overall, rugged outdoor computers are able to reliably and optimally operate even when exposed to outdoor elements, such as dust, water, extreme heat, and extreme cold. 

Outdoor computers are able to operate in the most volatile environments because they are configured using wide temperature range components, and they are passively cooled. Wide temperature range computers are able to perform reliably and optimally because they have been designed and built to withstand temperatures that regular desktop PCs cannot handle.  

Additionally, outdoor PCs are able to operate in harsh environments where they will be exposed to extreme temperature and dust because they are passively cooled via the use of heatsinks. Heatsinks are used to move heat away from the internal heat-generating components to the outer enclosure of the device, which dissipates the heat into the air surrounding the system.  

Furthermore, by utilizing passive cooling, engineers have been able to eliminate all openings and vents from the system, creating a totally closed system, eliminating the ability of dust, debris, and sometimes even water to enter the system, causing internal components to fail.  

For example, the WCO, WIO, and SIO Series of outdoor industrial computers can be deployed outdoors without any protection as they are IP rated to withstand exposure to dust, dirt, debris, and water splashes. Other rugged industrial computers such as the BCO and RCO Series of rugged outdoor computers can be deployed outdoors so long as they are housed in NEMA enclosures. 

organizations deploy outdoor industrial computers in kiosk machines, as IoT gateways, and as part of smart surveillance systems. Outdoor PCs can withstand deployment outdoors where there is no temperature control. The type of system that you will need depends on whether you want to deploy the system without protection or whether it’s going to be housed in something such as a NEMA enclosure.

Outdoor Computers Using a NEMA Enclosure 

Many of our customers deploy rugged industrial PCs in NEMA enclosures, which provide protection from windblown dust and rain, and Ice. So, while NEMA enclosures protect industrial computers from things such as dust, rain, and snow, they do not protect industrial PCs from extreme heat and extreme cold. If you deploy a small consumer-grade computer in a NEMA enclosure in extremely hot environments, the PC will likely overheat and stop working because regular desktop PCs are made for home use on desks, not outdoor deployments where the temperatures can easily exceed 50C.  

As such, since the temperature inside NEMA enclosures can get extremely hot, you should only deploy rugged outdoor industrial computers in such enclosures. Rugged outdoor computers have a wide temperature range, ranging from -40C to 85C, allowing them to be deployed in NEMA enclosures even in environments where the temperature exceeds 50C. 

Rugged outdoor computers are able to survive such extremely hot environments because they are passively cooled. That is, rugged outdoor PCs do not rely on fans to cool down the systems. Fans would be pointless in NEMA enclosures because they would continually recirculate hot air, which will not cool down the system. Instead, rugged outdoor computers rely on heatsinks to transfer heat away from the internal heat-generating components to the outer enclosure, which transfers the heat away from the components. 

Furthermore, outdoor PCs are configured using efficient low-powered processors that do not produce a lot of heat and therefore require little cooling to function reliably and optimally. For example, fanless outdoor PCs can be configured with the Intel® Celeron® J1900 low-powered processor that has a TDP of 10 Watts, great for entry-level workloads that do not require extreme performance.  

Premio offers a wide variety of fanless outdoor computers that can be deployed in NEMA enclosures; such options include the BCO and RCO Series of industrial computers. 

Outdoor PCs Without Using a NEMA Enclosure 

Not all outdoor computers need to be housed in NEMA enclosures to function reliably. In fact, Premio offers a variety of outdoor computers that can be deployed outdoor without enclosures. Such options include the WCO, WIO, and SIO Series of outdoor PCs. These industrial PCs all come with a minimum IP rating of 65 or higher, making them resistant to water.

What Makes Outdoor PCs Deployable Outdoors? 

The following features of outdoor computers make them great for outdoor deployments: 

1. Dust and Debris Resistance 

Outdoor fanless computers utilize a fanless design, which eliminates the need for vents and opening through which to circulate air through the system. This creates a totally closed system that prevents the entry of dust, dirt, and debris into the system. For example, if you want to deploy an outdoor PC in an oil production facility in the middle of a desert, the computing solution you choose must be able to handle deployment in a sandy or dirt-filled environment. Outdoor computers are able to handle such environments with ease, thanks to their fanless design.  

2. Wide Temperature Range 

Outdoor fanless PCs come with a wide operating temperature range, ranging from -40C to 85C, allowing outdoor computing solutions to be deployed in extremely cold and extremely hot environments.

So, whether you deploy a
 system in the middle of Antarctica during the winter or in the middle of the Sahara Desert during the hottest summer days, industrial outdoor computers will perform reliably and optimally without issue. Furthermore, outdoor computers are configured using wide temperature range components, which are able to survive the most extreme temperatures. 

3. Shock and Vibration Resistance 

Outdoor fanless computers are able to withstand frequent exposure to shocks and vibrations, enabling them to survive in environments where consumer-grade desktop PCs cannot. This is so because regular desktop computers come with many cables; when these cables are exposed to frequent shocks and vibrations, they can come loose from their connections, rendering the system inoperable. As such, industrial outdoor computers eliminate cables entirely from the system, allowing them to withstand up to 5 GRMs of vibrations and 50Gs of shock in compliance with the MIL-STD-810G.

re, industrial outdoor computers can be configured with SSDs for added shock and vibration resistance. SSDs (solid-state drives) are better capable of withstanding shocks and vibrations than regular HDDs (hard drives) because they store data on NAND chips vs. the spinning metal platters that hard drives use to store data, making them significantly more reliable and better able to handle exposure to shocks and vibrations.  

4. Industrial Grade Components

Although outdoor industrial computers utilize some of the same components as regular, consumer-grade PCs, they are made using industrial-grade components that have been tested and validated to operate reliably and optimally in volatile industrial environments. Everything utilized in industrial computers, from the electrical soldered capacitors to the PCB motherboards, is chosen and integrated into fanless outdoor computers to ensure reliable operation of the systems. 

5. Wide Power Range + Power Protection 

Outdoor industrial PCs come with a wide power range, making them compatible with a variety of different power input scenarios, ranging from 9 to 50 VDC. Furthermore, outdoor computers come equipped with a number of power protection features that include overvoltage protection, overcurrent protection, and reverse polarity protection.

Overvoltage protection protects the system 
by cutting off power to it when it detects that the voltages exceed the devices safe level. Surge protection cuts off the power to the system if the system detects a spike in power, saving the sensitive internal components. Reverse polarity protection protects the embedded system in the event that power supply polarity is reversed. All of these power protection features add to the reliability and durability of outdoor PCs.  

6. Compact Design 

Outdoor PCs have a compact design that makes deploying them in space-constrained environments possible. For example, if you need to deploy an outdoor PC in a small NEMA enclosure to bring intelligence to an outdoor security system, outdoor computers will fit in such enclosures. Furthermore, small form factor outdoor PCs can be deployed in cabinets, mounted on walls or ceiling, and placed in small spaces that regular, full-size desktop PCs cannot fit in. 

7. Rich Wireless Connectivity 

Outdoor computers are often deployed in outdoor settings where they have to wirelessly connect to networks for internet access. As such, outdoor computing solutions come equipped with rich wireless connectivity, allowing these systems to connect to the internet even if deployed in remote environments where reliable internet access is not always available. All outdoor PCs come equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity for low-latency high-speed connectivity to the internet and other devices.

in the event that Wi-Fi connectivity is not available, outdoor computing solutions can still connect to the internet as they come equipped with Dual SIM modules, permitting organizations to install two different internet carriers for redundancy. In the event that one carrier does not offer coverage in a certain area, the device can connect to the internet via a secondary carrier. Connectivity options include 4G, LTE, and 5G, all of which deliver high-speed connectivity, allowing outdoor computers to connect to the internet for remote monitoring and control.  

Also, outdoor PCs come equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, offering quick and simple connectivity for low powered IoT devices. IoT devices can seamlessly and quickly connect to outdoor PCs while maintaining power efficiency. So, although Bluetooth connectivity does not offer the range and speed offered by Wi-Fi, it does provide reliable one-to-one and many-to-many connectivity.  

Where Can You Buy Industrial-grade Outdoor Computers?

Premio is an excellent source for industrial-grade outdoor computers, offering competitive pricing and a wide variety of outdoor computing solutions that can be deployed in NEMA enclosures or outdoors without the use of enclosures. Premio has been manufacturing premium industrial computers for over 30 years in the United States. At Premio, we want our customers to succeed, so we go above and beyond what is required to ensure that our customers are satisfied with our products and service quality.