Which Enclosure/Storage Solution Is Right for Your Network?

Above-grade pad- and pole-mount enclosures for passive optical network (PON) or active optical network (AON) equipment. Below-grade PON enclosures. Walk-in shelters. Indoor panel- and rack-mount cabinets. H-frame fiber storage. And MORE!? There are myriad options available for housing and protecting your valuable telecommunications and networking equipment. So, how do you determine which storage solution meets the needs of your particular application?

In regard to H-frames, it’s pretty easy–you need a secure way to store up to 250’ of fiber optic cable slack out of the reach of vandals, so you have it ready when the time comes. But for enclosures, it can be a bit daunting trying to determine what you need in regard to NEMA rating, RU, climate control, etc.

At American Products, we can help by asking a series of questions which allow us to hone in on which enclosure is best for your application.

Which Storage Solution Is the Best Fit for Your Application?

Indoor or Outdoor

First, our enclosure specialist will discuss with you where your cabinet will be located, which includes whether it will be indoor or outdoor, what kind of environmental hazards it will be subjected to on a regular basis and how you will mount it.

To help decide which storage solution is best for your application, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has a rating system that shows what kind of protection an enclosure offers. For example, a NEMA Type 3 structure will protect against falling dirt, windblown dust, rain, sleet, snow and ice formation. A NEMA Type 4 enclosure protects against all that, plus splashing and hose-directed water.

If needed, we also offer a NEMA Type 6 structure–the AP NAUTILUS–which is below-grade and protects against temporary, occasional submersion at a limited depth as well.

So, it’s extremely important to know what hazards your enclosure will encounter to make sure your equipment is properly protected.

While you can use outdoor enclosures for indoor applications, they tend to be more complex and therefore more expensive. So, if your equipment is going to be inside and out of the elements, you really just have to choose between wall- and floor-mounted cabinets.

The typical installation is floor-mounted/stackable, at which point we can look at the AP MINUTEMAN. With it, you can choose between galvanized steel or ABS plastic construction. It’s suitable for housing active and/or passive equipment.

If you’re just looking for an indoor cabinet for fiber connectivity or storage, we have a few products designed for just that. Determining which one you need is as simple as determining how many connections you need.

Climate Control

Next, we’ll talk about climate control options. What’s the operating temperature of your equipment and what do you want the climate to be in the cabinet?

If your equipment is hardened, i.e., robust and able to operate at higher temperatures, this isn’t going to be too much of an issue. We can help recommend the proper size of heat exchanger or fan for your heat level.

But if your equipment isn’t hardened, and the environment has the potential to get hot during the summer months, we might recommend an air conditioner and insulation to help keep the temperature inside at a tolerable level.

You should note that you can’t get a fan solution in a NEMA Type 4 cabinet, due to the opening that would allow hose-directed water ingress.

Storage Space

One of the most important questions to discuss at this point is how big the cabinet needs to be.

First, we need to talk about how many rack units (RU) you need. If you don’t know that, we can look at what you need in the near term to understand what you’re doing on the site. What’s your reason for putting a cabinet at this particular point of presence (PoP) site? This will help us gauge how much equipment you’ll be housing in the cabinet, so we can suggest an accurate RU capacity.

Rack Units Infographic






Knowing what type of equipment you’ll be housing in each cabinet will also help us determine what kind of power system, if any, you’ll need at the site.

After determining the RU capacity, we need to know if you need 19” or 23”-wide racks and how deep your biggest piece of equipment is.

At this time, we’ll also talk about whether you’re going to want to store batteries in the cabinet or separately, as that will determine if you need an isolated battery compartment.

Once we know all of that, we know what size of cabinet to design.

Type of Network

When discussing outdoor cabinets, a big topic is the type of network and equipment you’re housing. Often, an organization needs something to house passive and active equipment. One good way of doing that is with a shelter, which is big enough to house a variety of equipment.

For those who have both types of networks, we can help you plan out a network where you have one shelter or cabinet dedicated to active network equipment, followed by other enclosures in other locations that are dedicated to passive network equipment.


At the end of the day, the American Products team isn’t trying to tell you what you need for your network. Instead, we’re simply guiding you to the storage solution that fits your needs just right. This will ensure the cabinets you invest in are going to protect your equipment the way you want them to.

Ready to start finding the enclosure(s) you need to protect your network? Contact our enclosure specialists now at 417.323.6312.

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