Electronic enclosure is a housing for electronic equipment which protects from negative impact of the environment and prevents users from electric shocks. Most of the electric equipment can be damaged by various environmental factors including water, extreme temperatures, airborne particles, and all sorts of other climatic conditions. Electrical enclosure are therefore used to protect the contents from such conditions which prevent their failure, keep the systems safe, and contribute to product longevity. For the coexistence of electricity and environment, electrical enclosures typically provide several environmental protection protocols. Conversely, electrical enclosures can also be hazard in itself and requires thermal management within it.
Environmental protection for electrical enclosures are rated using IP ratings which means ‘Ingress Protection’. It gives different degree of protection against solids as well as liquids. IP54 and IP56 are for indoor and outdoor conditions respectively. IP66, IP67, and IP68 are considered for extreme conditions.
Protection against Water Entry
Electrical enclosures need to watertight to prevent the entry of water through both precipitation and condensation. Enclosures with high IP ratings are designed to be submerged in water and used for extreme conditions such as flooding.
Protection against High and Low Temperatures
Extreme temperatures are largely responsible for damages in electronic equipment and make them stop working properly. To regulate the temperature inside electrical enclosures, they include forced as well as fan ventilation, insulation layers, double skins, and air conditioning units. Heat build-up in electrical enclosure is also capable of causing equipment failure and is effectively managed by correct enclosure size. Heat management also needs to account fluctuations in the external temperature.
Protection from Hazards
Electronic components can cause hazards which affect not only the electrical enclosure but also people who come in contact with these components. When the enclosure gets damaged, exposure of wires can become a shock hazard. IK ratings are used to determine amount of energy a cabinet can withstand these hazards. Metal cabinets are capable of withstanding higher impact energy than plastic cabinets. To protect against the possible hazard, metal cabinet are earth bonded and plastic cabinets are made from insulating materials.
Such environmental criteria are considered while designing an electrical enclosure. Depending on their applications, materials of the electrical enclosure are also determined which include both metals and non-metals. Metals are generally used for electrical enclosures to handle harsh weather conditions and environments whereas non-metallic materials are applicable for small junction boxes.
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