ATS Case Study: How to Design for Harsh Thermal Conditions in Homeland Security Electronics

An electronics design firm asked Advanced Thermal Solutions to provide thermal solutions for three electronics enclosures used in outdoor homeland security systems. The rugged enclosures contain multiple sub systems that must be kept within a specified operating temperature range over diverse heat and humidity conditions. Using thermal analysis, computer modeling and airflow simulations, ATS designed effective thermal management solutions for each enclosure. No changes were needed to the external housings.

ATS tested each security chassis to characterize its thermal performance. Several scenarios simulating extreme outdoor conditions were used to determine design changes for acceptable performance under worst case conditions. These included temperatures from -20 to 50°C, relative humidity up to 80%, solar heat loading to 110 Watt per square foot, and an altitude of 5,000 feet.

ATS studied airflow and temperature on all critical components, including video cameras, modems, and power supplies. Testing in varied temperature and solar radiation conditions showed that sun load was the most significant environmental factor on inside temperature. Its effect was four times higher than the power dissipation of the internal electronics. Despite this unalterable source, ATS modified each chassis internal design to manage the solar load and other temperature issues including very cold conditions.

The design service went from initial analytical concept, to CAD modeling using Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation, to the prototype stage. Changes included adding fans for both intake and exhaust purposes, modifying louver patterns for improved solar shielding and adding internal ducting to optimize airflow. Internal heater assemblies were added for extreme cold temperatures.

“Outdoor electronics present many severe thermal problems”, said Dr. Kaveh Azar, President and CEO of ATS.  “A housing may stand up to the worst environments, but its inside conditions can get well beyond the temperature limits the components are made for. Our thermal labs can simulate the harshest situations, and ATS finds practical and cost effective ways to resolve thermal problems so electronics will work reliably despite the weather.”

To learn more about ATS thermal engineering consulting services, please visit our web site at:

One response to “ATS Case Study: How to Design for Harsh Thermal Conditions in Homeland Security Electronics

  1. I don’t usually comment but I gotta admit thank you for the
    post on this great one :D.

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