What are the differences between an open frame power supply and an enclosed power supply?
What distinguishes open frame and enclosed power supplies is a basic difference in construction: with one, the power supply’s components are covered on all sides by a metal casing and with the other; the power supply’s components are attached by a base, essentially open to the elements.
Why would someone want an open frame power supply?
The real benefit to having an open frame power supply is that it is much easier to keep cool. In a typical enclosed type power supply, there is a nearly unavoidable greenhouse effect caused by the frame. Heat is trapped beneath the metal exterior and makes the power supply’s internal components run much hotter. While there are many different industry solutions to this heating problem, few are quite as effective as simply allowing for freer movement of the air surrounding the power supply’s components. However, this does not mean that you should banish all enclosed type power supplies from your equipment. In many cases, the benefits of an enclosed power supply outweigh those of an open frame. Having a case to protect the power supply’s components from the elements is definitely a good idea if the power supply is going to be installed in a place where it will be subjected to a good deal of dust and moisture.
What types of applications suit open frame power supplies?
Open frame power supplies can be a good fit for applications where the power supply will be well hidden from the elements and do not need to be protected. Additionally, applications requiring less power and a compact fit can be ideal for open frame power supplies. Open frame power supplies can be manufactured to be much smaller than your average enclosed power supply due to fewer restrictions on the configuration of power supply’s components.
So if you’re in the market for a power supply, first consider the specific application you are pursuing. If you are looking to use a desktop or rackmount chassis set up in an area that may be subject to even the subtlest of environmental changes, then an enclosed power supply will likely suit your needs. However, if your equipment won’t be seeing any sun, an open frame power supply is definitely worth considering.