DIN Rails Explained
Posted on November 15, 2021
If you have ever been involved in the installation of an industrial computer, you must have come across the term DIN rails. A core step when setting up a network of embedded computers, DIN rail mounting is the default method for installing crucial electrical devices.
This begs the natural question: what is a DIN rail, and how is an embedded PC mounted on it? Here is an overview of the process.
DIN Rails: A Standard for Electrical Installations
Surprisingly enough, DIN rails aren’t just used for computers. Named after Deutsches Institut für Normung (a German organization), DIN rails anchor all sorts of electrical devices, from circuit breakers to embedded systems.
A DIN rail is basically a horizontal strip of metal, constructed in a standard dimension and shape. This allows for electrical components to be clipped onto the rail, without having to worry about drilling into the wall.
Better yet, a well-fitted rail can anchor the component far more steadily than screwing them to the wall would achieve and doesn’t buckle or bend easily. A useful trait for key devices that need to be protected from physical shocks.
How are Embedded Computers Mounted on DIN Rails?
DIN rails come in various standard sizes. The most common variety is the 35 mm “top hat” design, which can be fitted with all kinds of devices like relays, motor controllers, and circuit breakers.
Embedded PCs are designed to take advantage of this standard as well. Attaching the wall mounting brackets to a system gives it exactly the right size to slide into a DIN rail. Just combine the bracket with DIN rail clips and the computer can be pushed into the rail without further ado.
Depending on the length of the rail, multiple embedded PCs can be installed side by side. Even fanless systems can be installed without an issue, as long as enough clearance is left at the front for the warm air to circulate.
What are the advantages of DIN Rail Mounting?
DIN rails greatly simplify the installation of embedded computers. Especially when you are dealing with a large number of systems, when installing each panel separately can be a tedious job. With DIN rails, the computers can just snap onto the rail in a sequence without any extra effort.
Not only does this reduce the cost of installation, but it also saves space. Multiple industrial computers can be packed into a limited space without infringing upon each other, reducing storage requirements as well as wiring needs.
This also leads to better organization, as the systems are evenly spaced out and easily accessible. The standard sizing means that even computers of different types and brands can be mounted to the same DIN rail out of the box.
Alternatives to DIN Rail Mounting
While DIN rail mounting is the de-facto standard for the installation of embedded systems, alternatives do exist. One can simply use the wall bracket mount to install an industrial PC directly on the wall, or in a cabinet if needed.
Basically, it is a good idea to use a rail if you are going to install more than a couple of computers. It is only when an application needs just one PC that a rail might be unnecessary. Or when there is a need to separate each computer in its own dedicated cabinet.
Since DIN rails are multipurpose, however, it is usually the best method even when a single computer has to be mounted, since the rest of the rail can be used for things like circuit breakers. Moreover, a DIN rail anchors the computer more firmly than most wall mounts and is easier to mount or remove.
Things like kiosks or arcade consoles obviously call for standalone cabinets housing a single embedded computer. But most industrial applications are going to feature a host of systems working in tandem, requiring a method of installation that is more space and cost-efficient.
That is where DIN rails come in. Acting as a standardized slot for multiple systems, DIN rails securely anchor industrial computers without any hassle. Mounting a PC is a simple matter of attaching the rail clips and then pushing the system into place.
This is why it is always recommended to install DIN rails in any location looking to host a bunch of embedded computers. Doing so saves time and money, besides ensuring that the systems are sturdily anchored and organized from the get-go.