An electrical enclosure is a container for electrical or electronic equipment.
They sometimes are also used to mount knobs, switches, and other user controls plus indicators such as touchscreens, readouts and various other displays.
Their primary function, however, is to protect users from electric shock and protect the internal components from the elements.
Regulations may dictate the features and performance of enclosures for electrical equipment in hazardous areas, such as coal mines, petrochemical plants, and various power distribution facilities. Electronic packaging may place many demands on an enclosure for:
heat dissipation, radio frequency interference, and electrostatic discharge protection, as well as functional, esthetic and commercial constraints.
There are also regulations concerning the delivery of both power and signal wiring into the enclosure. In an industrial setting, this is usually accomplished by conduit, which is a round metallic tube-like material that keeps the wiring away from people and the environment.
In the United States, NEMA (the National Electrical Manufacturers Association )
Publishes enclosure type standards for the performance of various classes of electrical enclosures. The NEMA standards cover ability to protect from rain and submersion, corrosion resistance, Materials used for what type of application, etc.
Usually, most municipalities adopt NEMA standards as law, which means electrical work not adhering to those standards is illegal.
Electrical enclosures are usually made from rigid plastics, metals, usually stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum. Steel cabinets may be painted or galvanized. Standard enclosures are made for custom-built or small production runs of equipment. For non-metallic enclosures; ABS plastic is acceptable for indoor only applications requiring a low NEMA rating (1, or 2), and are usually not adequate for harsh environments although some offer good protection from harsh chemicals. For NEMA 3 and above polycarbonate, glass-reinforced, polycarbonate, and fiberglass boxes are used and have a gasket to ensure dry and dust free area within the box. Choosing an electrical enclosure that is correct for the type of application is essential for long-term reliability.
Are corrosion resistant, lightweight, fairly strong and low cost.
Aluminum also acts as a shield against electromagnetic frequency and radio frequency interference.
Available in NEMA ratings of 1,4,4x,12, and 13.
Hard Plastic, It is strong but light, non-conductive and non-magnetic. It is also resistant to corrosion and some acidic environments; however, it is sensitive to abrasive cleaners. When it comes to electrical enclosures, Polycarbonate is the easiest material to modify because it is easy to drill the necessary holes for wiring inlets and mounting.
Available in NEMA Ratings of 1,2,3,3R,3S,4,4X,5,12,13, and 6P. Also extensively used in marine environments.
Carbon and Stainless steel enclosures
Highly Durable, corrosion and chemical resistant, also moisture resistant. They are best suited for medical, food and pharma industry applications due to their fungal and bacterial resistance which is due to their non-porous quality. Nothing can penetrate their outer surface such as food particles, etc.
Available in NEMA ratings of 1, 4, 4x, 12, 13
Fiberglass enclosures excel at handling chemicals, also in corrosive applications. This is due to the material’s inherent strength and it’s capability of handling extreme temperatures. That is why it is used both indoors and outdoors. This makes it more flexible in its use than the Polycarbonate enclosures. Also, Fiberglass can be installed in environments that are constantly wet.
Available in NEMA Ratings of 1, 2, 3, 3R, 4, 4X, 6P, 12, and 13
Some enclosure manufacturers:
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