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Category Archives: IP rated Enclosure
One of the questions we get asked most often is how do NEMA and IP ratings compare. That is, can one find an enclosure with a NEMA rating and use it to fit a required IP rating? The quick answer is no as there are different types of tests and even different testing bodies who set these ratings. However, if your purpose is to just determine which NEMA is closest to a specific IP rating and vice versa, there are similarities. First, some definitions. Electrical enclosures are rated based on their ability to withstand a varying degree of environmental elements, including dust, water, and ice. In the United States, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association developed the NEMA rating for classifying an enclosure’s level of protection from those environmental elements. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) http://www.iec.ch/index.htm has developed an alternative rating system, the IP standard, which stands for Ingress Protection. The standard format is “IP’ followed by two numbers which designate the level of protection. The first digit, which ranges from 1-6, specifies the level of protection from solids, and the second digit, which ranges from 1-8, specifies the level of protection from water. The higher the number is, the greater the level of protection. For instance, an enclosure with a rating of IP10 would offer less protection than an enclosure that is rated at IP54.
The following table summarizes the various IP number designations:
One of the most consistent questions that Bud Industries receives deals with the best materials for a NEMA or IP rated enclosure. Bud provides Nema and IP rated boxes in almost every material including steel, stainless steel, abs plastic, polycarbonate, fiberglass and die cast aluminum. In the last few years, we have added an interesting combination of polycarbonate and fiberglass (10%) that is becoming increasingly popular for many good reasons. This combination offers many advantages over both polycarbonate and traditional fiberglass materials when utilized for electronic enclosures.
Fiberglass is typically stronger than polycarbonate but because of the glass fibers it can crack upon impact. Polycarbonate is much less likely to crack. By adding a relatively small amount of glass fibers, the enclosure gains significant strength but still is basically crack resistant. This makes this product especially useful in a factory or other environment where the box may be more likely to receive impacts from other materials or equipment.
A question that we get all the time is what is the difference between a NEMA rated enclosure and an IP rated enclosure. First, a quick explanation of the two systems. NEMA, developed by the National Electrical Manufacturing Association, is used mostly in the US and sets forth an approach that rates the enclosure by its ability to protect the internal components from flying particles and also various types of liquids, both indoor and outdoor. IP, created by the International Electrotechnical Commission, is typically used outside the US and uses a two digit system where the first digit has increasing levels of protection against particles and the second does the same with liquids. Neither group performs tests nor do they certify that products meet these standards but the manufacturer must utilize a testing group, such as UL for NEMA and TUV for IP.
Below are charts that help explain the different systems much better than a blog can typically do. The first is for NEMA.
The second is for IP ratings
And the final one compares the two:
For all of your NEMA rated enclosure and IP rated enclosure questions and to see a broad line of products, be sure to contact Bud industries.
Many consider the safest way to protect electronic components in a hazardous environment is to use a completely plastic NEMA enclosure. This eliminates the possibility for rust even in such often overlooked area as the latches and hinges. An entirely plastic enclosure provides the ultimate in low weight for the toughest durability. Bud’s very popular NBF series is the ultimate combination of great protection (NEMA/IP) and a value price.
Purchasing a harsh environment enclosure can be a tricky business. The components need to be protected but it is also important not to overkill the protection and waste costs. All too often, the enclosure is not considered until the last minute in any design, the focus going on the active components. This can lead to a quick decision that often negates many cost savings in other areas. Therefore, we have developed five ways to save money on your harsh environment enclosure purchase that will also allow you to be better prepared and best of all, save money.
1. As simple as it seems, use a standard enclosure. In the rush to enclose the product, the quick response is for an exact match to engineering specs. However, by choosing a standard, off the shelf, enclosure, the lead time and cost both decline significantly. It is important to remember that using a slightly larger enclosure does not impact the functioning of the internal components, so buying a box that is an inch larger could actually save money if it is a standard compared to the costs of developing the requested custom box. This is particularly true when buying plastic enclosures with significant tooling costs.
2. Consider using a less expensive material. As an example, steel or aluminum are more expensive than plastic. In the United States, for NEMA/IP rated enclosures, steel is the preferred material. In the rest of the world, plastics are more popular in no small part due to their low cost and more than adequate strength. If the application does not require the box to withstand constant physical abuse, plastic provides a lower cost and even more corrosion resistant option.
3. Do you need specific ratings on the enclosure or can you utilize the unit without those ratings? For example, does the unit need a UL rating or is the manufacturer’s NEMA ratings sufficient? For example, Bud offers a NEMA/IP rated enclosure line with several alternatives included an ABS plastic version that does not come with the UL ratings. For most applications, this box provides a perfect combination of value and function. In a similar vein, can you use a box with a lower level of protection? For example, a NEMA 1 box may suffice where traditionally one has used a NEMA 12 box. Alternatively, if only a specific internal component needs to be EMI/RFI shielded, it is better to protect that component than to shield the entire enclosure.
4. Review which accessories are included so that the price comparisons are accurate. Some manufacturer’s offer a turn-key enclosure such as having mounting panels included in NEMA steel or plastic boxes, mounting provisions for wall mounting or equipment mounting an enclosure, and bails or handles for easy maneuverability. Consideration of these features can save significant cost and also insure that all components work well together.
5. If modifications are required, consider having them done at the manufacturer. The manufacturer knows the best approaches for drilling or punching based on the product materials and can avoid cracking or chipping the box itself. It avoids having to find a local source for the work, saving time and potential damage in multiple shipments of the product. The manufacturer can provide a turn-key product, speeding installation of the components and providing a rapid up-time.
Nothing is more frustrating than paying more than is necessary for a quality harsh environment enclosure. With these steps, you can insure that your project does not cost more than it should or slow down your work. Don’t overlook the simple solutions to your complex problems.
Here is a new infographic from Bud Industries on the five easy steps to select a factory automation enclosure Bud has a very broad range of products that meet NEMA and IP standards in all materials ranging from steel to plastic to aluminum to fiberglass. Contact your local Bud distributor for more details as well as price and delivery.
With customers always pushing for cost reductions, saving money has become an overriding concern in all product specification. In the selection of an IP rated enclosure to use on the factory floor, there are five issues to consider insuring that you choose the most effective, but economical solution for your application.
- Do you need your enclosure to be IP rated at all? With factory floors increasingly clean, the need to protect sensitive equipment from dirt, dust, and liquids is significantly reduced. By specifying a traditional enclosure instead of an IP rated enclosure, the savings can be as much as 50-75%. Often, typical enclosure protection of sides, top and bottom enclosure can provide enough protection at a very inexpensive price.
- Do you need to protect then entire enclosure, or only a sensitive component? Size matters in protection. The smaller the item that needs to be protected, the less labor and gasketing goes into the protective enclosure. Therefore, a small die-cast type IP rated box can be selected to fit inside a larger piece of equipment if that is all that needs to be protected
- What level of protection is required? There is no point to specify extra protection such as UV stabilization if the enclosure is being used indoors. Often a lower level such as IP54 will work for your application. Each increasing level of protection can exponentially increase the cost.
- What material do you actually need? In the U.S., steel is often the choice for IP enclosures. However, plastic, the world wide standard, is less expensive and provides great protection in most applications. Steel makes sense only when using an extremely large enclosure or when the environment is extreme. Polycarbonate, fiberglass, and even die cast, all make low cost alternatives for the traditional steel enclosure.
- Can the manufacturer assist you in making modifications to the enclosure? If you are dealing with more than a few pieces, the vendor has the best equipment to insure that any hole locations, slots, or connector cut-outs are created with no damage to the enclosure. This saves significant money and time in obtaining a turn-key solution to your project
Often selecting the enclosure is a last minute rushed decision but by asking a few simple questions, the design of the proper enclosure can save significant money.