I’ve noticed that more and more industries are putting computers into their vehicles these days.  This can make their mobile employees more productive, give them access to real-time data, and provide a better overall experience for customers.  When the computer lacks sufficient USB ports for connecting peripherals, a USB hub is used.  Because a vehicle environment is very different from an office or home environment, special consideration should be used when choosing a USB hub.  I recommend using vehicle industrial USB hubs that are specifically designed for vehicle use.
Vehicle industrial USB hubs
Some of the differences between being in a vehicle and an office include:

  • Temperature
  • Power
  • Vibration

A home or office temperature is usually regulated and kept between 60°F and 80°F.  The temperature inside a vehicle, however, can vary from the extreme cold of winter months to the extreme heat of a desert summer.  Vehicle industrial USB hubs are designed to operate in a wider temperature range than a consumer grade USB hub.
I have found that it is always best to use a powered USB hub so you can supply sufficient power to each device connected to it.  Unlike a device that runs off AC power in your office, if you connect an electronic device to your vehicle’s electrical system incorrectly, you can fry it.  An industrial USB hub will have circuitry for reverse polarity protection.  It will also provide circuitry and possibly a fuse for over current protection.  Static electricity is also an issue in a vehicle, especially in drier climates.  A touch from you can zap fragile electronics if they’re not protected from Electrostatic Discharge (ESD).
Vibrations produced by a vehicle can separate components from a printed circuit board (PCB) or cables from connectors.  An industrial USB hub is designed to overcome this environmental problem.
Vehicle industrial USB hubs are a much better choice than consumer grade USB hubs for use in a vehicle.  They can keep your mobile office operational longer by handling the more severe conditions in a vehicle.  Keep in mind that the initial expense to deploy your mobile office using a consumer grade USB hub will be less.  But what is important to remember is that the total cost of ownership (TCO) for a consumer device will end up being more due to the lost productivity from downtime and the cost (material and labor) to replace damaged equipment.