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Category Archives: NEMA Boxes
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:
Many customers would be surprised to know that Bud’s Steel NEMA Boxes are among its best sellers. When customers think of Bud’s NEMA/IP rated offerings, they typically think of either polycarbonate or fiberglass boxes, the original protected products that Bud introduced over 30 years ago. Despite the fact that Bud has had these steel products in its line for only a decade, the SNB series now has become a huge part of the industry’s market. With diverse applications that range from agriculture to industrial controls, medical to communications and a price that is among the lowest anywhere, this series keeps growing exponentially.
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.
There is often confusion about the various rating systems for the protection of equipment within an enclosure. We are often asked which system is best and how are they different? If the customer is in the US, are they better off buying NEMA boxes or one with an IP rating, or does it even matter? While there are no hard and fast answers to the question of which is best, we thought it might be helpful to provide a few details to help the customer navigate these systems.
IP, or ingress protection marking, is the International standard, typically used throughout the world and only recently gaining adherents in the US. It is based on the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standard 60529. NEMA ratings were established by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and take a somewhat different approach to designating protection levels than does the IP system. While there can be self-testing (and these are typically noted by phrases such as “designed to meet IPXX”), there are regulatory agencies such as UL for NEMA and TUV for IP that will perform and certify the tests for the various levels of protection. While there are charts that purport to show the relationship between and IP rating and a NEMA rating, the differences can be subtle yet important.
An IP ratings typically is a two digit number. The first digit stands for the level of solid particle protection while the second digit represents the level of liquid ingress protection. The levels for the solid particles range from 0 for no protection to 6 which is dust tight. The second digit ranges from 0 (no protection) to 9.
The NEMA system uses one number to represent the level of protection although confusingly the higher the number does not necessarily represent increased security but rather different types of water resistance.
The other difference is that the tests performed to certify the ratings might be quite different although they produce a similar level of protection. For example, the spray test on a NEMA 4 box is 65 GPM of water from a 1 inch nozzle delivered from at least 10 feet away for 5 minutes. Some may suggest that NEMA 4 is the same as IP66, but the IP66 test is for 3 minutes instead of 5, 3 meters instead of 10 feet and with a slightly different sized nozzle. Although close, they are not the identical.
Below are the charts with a brief explanation of the protection levels and testing process. used to rate IP Boxes and NEMA Boxes. As always, if you have any questions, never hesitate to contact the enclosure manufacturer for exact details and certifications.
IP Protection Explanation:
|Level||Object size protected against||Effective against|
|0||—||No protection against contact and ingress of objects|
|1||>50 mm||Any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part|
|2||>12.5 mm||Fingers or similar objects|
|3||>2.5 mm||Tools, thick wires, etc.|
|4||>1 mm||Most wires, slender screws, ants etc.|
|5||Dust protected||Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment.|
|6||Dust tight||No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight). A vacuum must be applied. Test duration of up to 8 hours based on air flow|
|Level||Protected against||Effective against||Details|
|1||Dripping water||Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.||Test duration: 10 minutes|
|Water equivalent to 1 mm rainfall per minute|
|2||Dripping water when tilted up to 15°||Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.||Test duration: 10 minutes|
|Water equivalent to 3 mm rainfall per minute|
|3||Spraying water||Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.||Test duration: 5 minutes|
|Water volume: 0.7 litres per minute|
|Pressure: 50–150 kPa|
|4||Splashing of water||Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.||Test duration: 5 minutes|
|Water volume: 10 litres per minute|
|Pressure: 50–150 kPa|
|5||Water jets||Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.||Test duration: at least 3 minutes|
|Water volume: 12.5 litres per minute|
|Pressure: 30 kPa at distance of 3 m|
|6||Powerful water jets||Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.||Test duration: at least 3 minutes|
|Water volume: 100 litres per minute|
|Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m|
|6K||Powerful water jets with increased pressure||Water projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure, shall have no harmful effects.||Test duration: at least 3 minutes|
|Water volume: 75 litres per minute|
|Pressure: 1000 kPa at distance of 3 m|
|7||Immersion up to 1 m||Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).||Test duration: 30 minutes|
|Tested with the lowest point of the enclosure 1000 mm below the surface of the water, or the highest point 150 mm below the surface, whichever is deeper.|
|8||Immersion 1 m or more||The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects. The test depth and/or duration is expected to be greater than the requirements for IPx7.||Test duration: continuous immersion in water|
|Depth specified by manufacturer, generally up to 3 m|
|9K||Powerful high temperature water jets||Protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.||Test duration: 30 seconds in each of 4 angles (2 minutes total)|
|Smaller specimens rotate slowly on a turntable, larger specimens are tested freehand for a longer time. Smaller specimens are tested from 4 specific angles.||Water volume: 14–16 litres per minute|
|There are specific requirements for the nozzle used for the testing.||Water temperature: 80 °C|
|1||General-purpose. Protects against dust, light, and indirect splashing but is not dust-tight; primarily prevents contact with live parts; used indoors and under normal atmospheric conditions.|
|2||Drip-tight. Similar to Type 1 but with addition of drip shields; used where condensation may be severe (as in cooling and laundry rooms).|
|3||Weather-resistant. Protects against falling dirt and windblown dust, against weather hazards such as rain, sleet and snow, and is undamaged by the formation of ice. Used outdoors on ship docks, in construction work, and in tunnels and subways.|
|3R||As 3, but omits protection against windblown dust.|
|3S||As 3, but also operable when laden with ice.|
|3X, 3RX, 3SX||X indicates additional corrosion protection; commonly used near salt water.|
|4 and 4X||Watertight. Must exclude at least 65 GPM of water from 1-in. nozzle delivered from a distance not less than 10 ft for 5 min. Used outdoors on ship docks, in dairies, and in breweries. X (as 4X) indicates additional corrosion resistance.|
|5||Dust-tight. Provided with gaskets or equivalent to exclude dust; used in steel mills and cement plants.|
|6 and 6P||Submersible. Design depends on specified conditions of pressure and time; submersible in water or oil; used in quarries, mines, and manholes. 6 is temporarily submersible, 6P withstands occasional prolonged submersion. Neither are intended for continuous submersion.|
|7||Certified and labeled for use in areas with specific hazardous conditions: for indoor use in Class I, Groups A, B, C, and D environments as defined in NFPA standards such as the NEC.|
|8||Certified and labeled for use in areas with specific hazardous conditions: for indoor and outdoor use in locations classified as Class I, Groups A, B, C, and D as defined in NFPA standards such as the NEC.|
|9||Certified and labeled for use in areas with specific hazardous conditions: for indoor and outdoor use in locations classified as Class II, Groups E, F, or G as defined in NFPA standards such as the NEC.|
|10||MSHA. Meets the requirements of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, 30 CFR Part 18 (1978).|
|11||General-purpose. Protects against the corrosive effects of liquids and gases. Meets drip and corrosion-resistance tests.|
|12 and 12K||General-purpose. Intended for indoor use, provides some protection against dust, falling dirt, and dripping noncorrosive liquids. Meets drip, dust, and rust resistance tests.|
|13||General-purpose. Primarily used to provide protection against dust, spraying of water and noncorrosive coolants. Meets oil exclusion and rust resistance design tests.|
Between the new discoveries of water movement on Mars, and the Matt Damon movie, the Maritan, space and space travel is in the news. It is probably little known that Bud Industries played a small but important role in early space flight. For those old enough to remember, the astronauts carried with them a large metal box, its use was classified and we never learned exactly what it did. We thought it might have to do with generating oxygen or temperature controls for the space suit. Bud manufactured these boxes to their exacting standards and did so for nearly a decade until they were no longer required. In the intervening years, Bud has provided NASA products for a variety of applications, mostly involved in research and testing.
Today, Bud quality is internationally known particularly for products that protect components in harsh environments. While we have not tested our products on Mars, we have tested them under a variety of extreme weather conditions. One of our customers for our PN series of NEMA and IP rated plastic boxes deploys them in the Arctic Circle as part of a monitoring system. Having to deal with not only the extreme temperatures, but also moisture and wind create a challenge that we have successful met for years. Their boxes have worked flawlessly and the only modification has been that we have sent them updated gaskets as they have evolved to insure that they have the best possible product. While your applications may not be in space or at the North Pole, discover the protection that Bud can provide for all of your component needs.
Today is the day that the Iphone 6s is being released and to no one’s surprise, there are huge lines outside the stores waiting to be the first to get the new device. What I find interesting is how the distribution model on the phones has change and how this is impacting customers and their buying patterns. As we all know, in the past you bought a phone, it was heavily subsidized by the carrier, but then you had to sign up for a 2 year contract or you were hit with big penalties. There was nothing more painful for the customer than either having to wait with a dying phone for the contract to be done, or deciding to bite the bullet and get the new phone and eat the charges. Now, there are many options available for these products. You can buy the phone but you pay it off over 2 years with monthly rentals. The bonus is that, depending on the company, you can upgrade the phone at no charge after a year. Also, Apple is stepping into the game, beginning to sell the phones (unlocked) directly to the consumer and then letting them sign up with a carrier or even bounce from carrier to carrier depending on who has the best deal at the time. This also has a 12 month upgrade capability and also offers the consumer the option of picking up local sim cards when they travel internationally, eliminated the dreaded international data charges.
The point of all of this is that there are disrupters in the market who are changing the way the products are sold to match what the customer wants today. We are seeing this trend spill over into our industry as customers are reaching out to new distributor options that make buying a product fast and easy. Often, distribution requires customers to pay different prices or limits access in different markets. These new players have changed that model, moving the expectations of the consumer market right into the industrial world. For those of us willing to adapt, the opportunities continue to grow, for those who look the other way or feel that it is a temporary fad, they may find some tough challenges in the future. For our customers, there are many distributors who will sell them our products such as a PN series plastic NEMA box. The customer’s choice will be the one that meets their needs and makes buying easy that will win every time.
Regardless of your politics, Cleveland, the home of Bud Industries, was proud to host the first Republican debate last week. It was a great chance for the city to show off its resurgence, impress the attendees with our outstanding restaurant and arts scene, and display the natural beauty of the city and its extensive lakefront. It was an exciting tryout for next summer when we host the Republican Convention. For many, it was their first exposure to this area and they discovered that Donald Trump was not the only exciting part about these debates.
To us, there is not debate that many of our customers have discovered that Bud is the resource for their NEMA enclosures. An example is our PN series, long the backbone of our NEMA product offering. These polycarbonate boxes provide the ultimate in protection (NEMA 4x, IP66) that allows for the product to be used in almost any environment and still be able to perform. We have deployed these units in climates as diverse as Alaska and the South Pole to the factory floor here in Cleveland. They are durable, simple to use and provide the type of flexibility that any customer requires. With internal mounting bosses, wall mount capabilities, and optional clear covers, the engineer has a plethora of applications that fit this box.
Most of all, don’t forget to let Bud quote your modifications. With our industry leading 5 day turnaround, no one provides you with exactly what you need like Bud does. Let us add your slots, holes, cut outs, and other mods to speed your assembly process. So, regardless of your politics, we can all agree that the PN series from Bud Industries deserves your vote as the best all-around NEMA enclosure.