outdoor kiosks

Outdoor Kiosk Design

Outdoor kiosk design

Outdoor kiosk design by Livewire
The kiosk pictured is a EuroTouch Flexi Mega Outdoor 42P deployed by @LivewireDigital in Kemah TX

Outdoor  introduces a slew of variables including: water, humidity, cold, heat, sunlight, airborne particles, chemicals and other elements which produce corrosion. NEMA, IP65, UL standards come into play.  Getting power  is just one of the crucial details as well as internet access.

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Outdoor Kiosk Considerations include:

Design for the elements: The kiosk should be designed from the ground up as a watertight enclosure, with watertight seams and insulated inner walls to protect internal devices from heat and cold. Your provider can consult on building to the appropriate NEMA rating, with guidelines on combining the appropriate HVAC / shelter elements for the deployment environment. NEMA ratings relate to the severity of weather exposure anticipated (operating temperature range requirements, sheltered vs. direct water contact, etc.).  Usually it is NEMA4 but for corrosive it becomes NEMA4X.  Here is nice table.

Display Choice: Hi Brite LCDs eliminate “sunlight washout” concerns and provide the user appropriate levels of screen readability, even on the brightest days. Touch screen integration is readily available, eliminating mandatory keyboards. Further, dual screen integration with Hi Brite LCDs affords customers low-cost advertising, branding reinforcement, and promotional attractor capabilities.

Heating and Cooling: Integrating the correct HVAC unit maintains the optimal temperature and humidity level within the kiosk, for peak reliability. Your provider will consult with deployers on the operational environment, making recommendations for the best cost / performance selection. Outdoor-Sizing Guide and also Outdoor-eic_understanding_heatload_ebook are useful for determining how much cooling or heating is needed.  TECA Cooling is a member of the Industry Group and is highly skilled in cooling. Kooltronic has a nice sizing tool as well.

Outdoor-new3
Example of rear mounted thermo or Peltier cooler. Click for full image

The standard units are compressor based.  Heating and cooling options include thermocoolers which are smaller than compressors but also more money for less cooling..

Consider the environment. Even in a closed system there will be exposure to outside air.  And the kiosk enclosure itself. Is it salty?  If so you might consider stainless steel.  Another option is zinc-rich primer powdercoat as well as G90 Electroplated.

Choose components wisely and engineer design your unit to maximize natural cooling and heating and you can often eliminate or at least mitigate required A/C and heating requirements.

cross flow device
Another heat consideration – cooling off your touchscreen when it gets hot. Click to expand.

Another heat consideration is direct sunlight in a warm climate (we are thinking Arizona, Dallas or Florida).   Here is fan flow device from Panel-Brite which is a fan for cooling the touchscreen.  Ventilation and smart design cannot be stressed enough.

From Panel-Brite:

Using touch screens of any kind in extremely hot temperatures usually requires extra airflow to move super-hot air out of the gap between the front of the panel and back of the touch screen.

For these type of outdoor applications the air gap should be increased using thicker foam tape when mounting the touch screen to the panel. This gap should certainly be more than what is used for indoor applications.

UL Testing: A reputable firm universally designs to UL guidelines, and routinely implements UL testing on first prototypes for customers who require UL Certification. UL testing is performed to certify that the units are waterproof and safe to operate rain / snow. Parallel certification testing done at the time of manufacturing can save up to 4 months in the overall project timeline.

Kiosk Installation: A reputable company can provide completely turnkey installation service, addressing all the unique requirements of an outdoor placement. This includes:

  • Site preparation and securing required permits
  • Ensuring state specific electrical standard compliance for watertight power cables and connections
  • Power connectivity preparation (underground, if required)
  • Surface leveling and ground bolting of units

Outdoor kiosk considerations

1. Display Brightness – since the outdoor units will be subject to direct sunlight, the actual flat panel LCD must be brighter; 350-700 Nits vs. the normal 180-200 Nits.
2. Auto-Dimming – just as you want the display brighter during sunny days you want to be able to have the display auto-dim to lower brightness during cloudy days or at night.
3. Kiosk Touchscreen – the touchscreen technology must be such that it can be fully sealed against direct rain AND it should have safety glass in front that prevents breakage and cannot be disabled by the consumer.
4. Temperature – the computer, display and other electronics must be designed for industrial, high-temperature use. The internal temperatures may reach 130° F and the components must operate at these elevated temperature levels.
5. Keyboard / Pointing Devices – must be suitable for use in wash down environments and made robust for severe usage.
6. Material – should be metal design with industrial powder coat finish. Most indoor materials will not survive outdoors and will be subject to cracking under sun load and varying conditions.
7. Sealing – all connections, openings, doors, panels into the Kiosk must be designed with watertight gasketing, latches and fittings. Otherwise, water will get into the unit.
8. Shock / Vibration – these Kiosks will take more physical abuse than indoor versions so all electronic components need to be “shock-mounted” to prevent damage.
A kiosk for outdoors can still be designed with the same level of ergonomics and user interface to run the same applications as inside. However, different packaging methods must be employed, the electronics must be suitable for the higher shock/temperature environments and the display/touchscreen must handle the varying ambient light conditions.
Want to go cheap?
Example of sun shield in Redbox. Click for full image
Example of sun shield in Redbox. Click for full image
Redbox tried that. They went with plain resistive “regular” touchscreens which were the cheapest available. Problem is for the outdoor the heat build up caused blackouts so first they tried mitigating with drop down flaps. Eventually they went to new sun shields.  How much did all those changes and service calls cost them in the meantime?  Careful going cheap. It can be the most expensive of all.

Test Your Outdoor Kiosk

You need to establish temperature parameters inside the unit so  you design for it.  Venting, fans, low power computers, high temperature rated PCs.
What about ingression?  Is there a weep hole designed into the bottom and if so does it have a check valve to prevent elements from getting into the kiosk.
kiosk-outdoor
Outdoor ticketing kiosk being tested at Kiosk Information Systems out in the parking lot. Click for full size image.

Resource:  Bud Industries

The Mysteries of IP65, IP66, and IP67 Rated Enclosures Explained

It is often confusing for an engineer to know what type of rating they need to look for when they desire to have a “waterproof” enclosure.  Much like with watches or other sensitive information, there is a big difference between waterproof, water resistant, and other descriptive but not specific labels.  To help out, there are several rating systems that have been developed although and several testing agencies that verify the results. Among these, the two best known are NEMA and IP. This blog will deal only with the IP system.

For enclosures, the typical “waterproof” IP ratings are IP67, IP66 and IP65 enclosures.  The chart below gives the specifics of what these ratings mean and how they are measured.

  IP RatingProtectionDescriptionTest Method

IP65 Enclosures

Able to protect against water jetsWater projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.Test duration: at least 15 minutes
Water volume: 12.5 litres per minute
Pressure: 30 kPa at distance of 3 m

IP66 Enclosures

Able to protect against powerful water jetsWater projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 100 litres per minute
Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m

IP67 Enclsoures

Able to protect against Immersion up to 1 mIngress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).Test duration: 30 minutes
Immersion at depth of at least 1 m measured at bottom of device, and at least 15 cm measured at top of device

IP65 enclosure, PN clear lid - MB

IP ratings, or ingress protection, were developed by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and are most heavily used in Europe and Asia, with some adherents in North America as well.  Since these are international standards, the testing is often certified by the TUV instead of UL, although both provide stringent testing.  One area to note is that while these are developed to deal with harsh environments, they do not address UV protection standards (outdoor) and the engineer should look for or ask about the ability of the enclosure to include UV protection materials.


 

Bud’s new PIP series combines the best of fiberglass and polycarbonate

PIP SeriesThere have been ongoing debates for years about the advantages of polycarbonate over fiberglass as a material for enclosures.  Both are great for NEMA/IP boxes, often being able to reach IP67 or IP68 ratings.  Here are a few advantages of each:

 

Polycarbonate is:

  1. More impact resistant
  2. Provides greater UV protection
  3. Easier to modify.  With Fiberglass enclosures, there is a fine dust that can be irritating to the skin or when inhaled.  Fiberglass also can splinter, ruining the box, if it is not modified correctly
  4. More visually appealing.  The enclosures made from polycarbonate tend to be smoother with less texturing

Fiberglass is:

  1. More true to shape with less mold variability.  The glass particles will retain the rigidity through the production process, insuring that there is more consistency between boxes.  This is very important as the installer tries to maintain their IP rating with a situation where wall thicknesses and slope can vary.  This means it is much more difficult to create a tight seal between the box and the accessories
  2. Fiberglass may hold up better in extreme heat or cold.  Polycarbonate has a tendency to shrink slightly when cold or to expand slightly in heat.  Fiberglass maintains its original shape much more readily

 

Bud Industries has introduced several lines of products (our PIP and our PBB series) that combine the best of both worlds.  Since it has a lower Fiberglass content at 10%, it maintains many of the features of the polycarbonate boxes with the add benefits of fiberglass.  The look is closer to that of a polycarbonate box, but with the added consistency that engineers demand.  Check out our new line at http://www.budind.com/view/NEMA+Boxes/NEMA+4X+-+PIP.

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(c) We Like Can Stock Photo