Clear-Topped Project Enclosure

Does anyone have a recommendation for a clear-topped outdoor enclosure?

My goal is to mount both a small solar panel and a display inside of the enclosure. I bought a few enclosures along these lines on eBay a few years back. These were all plastic, white on 5 sides with a clear, sealed lid attached by 4 screws. The once-clear tops have yellowed horribly out in the sun, to the point that the solar panels don’t charge very well anymore and there’s no way a person could read a display through them anymore.

It could be that the boxes I purchased were of low quality and that some of the more reputable enclosure manufacturers have significantly better UV resistance… or maybe 3 years out in the sun is the best that one can expect?

I think the ideal solution would be a sealed enclosure with tempered glass on top (which would be guaranteed not to yellow), but I’ve never been able to find such a thing.

Any tips?

Thanks,

Jeff

I’d check out PolyCase. https://www.polycase.com/. Most of their products offer both an opaque case as well as a clear poly case. The availability has been good and if you are thinking of building something at any relative scale you can also order pre-printed on and CNC holes cut (you need a decent volume to make it worthwhile). What I liked best about them is you can download the full 3D model and import into Fusion 360 or any other modeling program to design hole placement, PCB Layout, subpanel, etc. If you have access to a 3D printer, you can even download the files and 3D print the enclosure. I personally printed 3-4 different ones to have the product “in hand” before placing my final order for the final design I would actually use outside.

When I use a solar panel, I opted to have an external solar panel vs have it inside the enclosure. I don’t know what loss of efficiency you get having to go through the clear polycase but I figured better to have it outside the enclosure. That said, only a few users of mine went with solar panel so it wasn’t a high requirement for me. Hope that helps!

@jgskarda – Thanks for the tip on polycase. Have you tried one of their clear-topped cases outdoors in full sun? How did it fare over time?

I started off with solar panels inside of the eBay-sourced plastic cases, but eventually switched to 5W external solar panels (as you suggested) with a nice tempered glass face for about $20. These have worked well, especially for the application that I have out in the field now which is just a sensor+electron (no user interface on the sensor itself). With a 5W panel, the electron can be always awake, which is nice for calibration, FW upgrades, etc.

The only reason that I’m reconsidering clear-topped plastic cases is for a different application where the power requirements are much lower and I really need a display, so I could package both the solar panel and the display inside of the case if someone made a clear-faced case that would hold up to the sun. In the end, I may decide to stick with the same 5W panel and a smaller clear-faced case that could be shaded to slow down the UV-induced degradation.

I use their case with clear top in a product, never had any issues with degradation or cloudiness. They work well so far (~4 years).

Looks like Vinduino does almost exactly what you are looking to do.

https://vinduino.com/

They don’t say it’s a polycase however I can almost bet it is as it looks identical to the Enclosure I have except except clear cover. So must work fairly well.

Thanks @Mjones and @jgskarda.

I’ll give polycase a try.

Jeff