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If you are designing an electronic device that goes into an outdoor enclosure how do you calculate the rise in temperature from solar loading? Say my safe operating ambient was 45C how do I understand what my safe operating temperature is in direct sunlight? I get that it has to do with surface area and color and I did find some formulas about determining Wattage for picking a cooling system. But nothing yet that helps me understand the temperature rise.

If the answer is test or simulate, is there a way to get an approximation?

Thank you

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Try if your weather department has some information about the max. temperatures in your area... in most cases you also get 10,100,... year maximums. Thats what you assume for the outside of the outdoor enclosure - ambient Temperature.

You then can approximate the outdoor enclosure's active surface, your equipments active surface and via physics of radiation heat transfer (for formulas see a physics book) you can estimate how much Energy can be transfered away from your equipment. Then you know if it is ok for your equipment to warm up to 45°C or not.

This of course dismisses other effects (transfer characteristics of the material the outdoor enclosure is made of), but its good enough in many cases. A colleague of me has written a exel calculation for closed housings with passive cooling only. The only difference, your result is not an allowed temperature, but an allowed power dissipation.

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