When it comes to enclosure material, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Your enclosure material selection will, therefore, depend on the specific requirements of your application. In this guide, we’ll help you select the right material for your project or, if interested in
Electrical enclosure manufacturers use different materials to construct their products. These materials offer varying degrees of resistance to factors such as impact, corrosion, heat, and other conditions.
When selecting an enclosure material for your application, it’s important to understand the properties of each material and how they will affect the performance of your enclosure.
The most common materials used in electrical enclosures are metal, plastic, and fiberglass. Let’s take a closer look at each material:
Steel Electrical Enclosures
Steel is a strong and durable material that offers excellent protection against impact, vibration, and corrosion. Steel electrical enclosures are typically used in harsh industrial environments where the enclosure is subject to high levels of wear and tear.
Different types of steel offer different levels of protection. For example, stainless steel is more resistant to corrosion than carbon steel. Galvanized steel, on the other hand, has a coating that protects against corrosion. Here’s more about these enclosure material options:
Carbon Steel Enclosures
Carbon steel is a strong and durable material that can withstand high temperatures and harsh environments. Carbon steel enclosures are is also less expensive than most other metal enclosures, which makes them budget-friendly options.
However, carbon steel is susceptible to corrosion, so it may not be the best choice for outdoor or marine applications. When powder coated, though, this enclosure material offers resistance to corrosion.
Stainless Steel Enclosures
Stainless steel is a more expensive option than carbon steel, but it offers better resistance to corrosion. This makes it a good choice for environments where the enclosure is exposed to chemicals or salt water.
Stainless steel electrical enclosures also have a clean, polished look that makes the suitable for applications where aesthetics is an important factor. These include offices, food processing plants, and healthcare facilities.
Galvanized Steel Enclosures
Galvanized steel enclosures have a coating that protects against corrosion. This makes them a good choice for outdoor applications or environments where the enclosure is exposed to chemicals.
But, while galvanized steel offers good resistance to corrosion, it’s not as strong or durable as stainless steel. Galvanized steel electrical boxes are also more expensive than carbon steel enclosures.
Aluminum Electrical Enclosures
Aluminum enclosures are lighter than steel enclosures and offer good protection against corrosion. However, they are not as strong as steel enclosures and are more susceptible to damage from impact.
In addition to corrosion withstand, aluminum electrical enclosures provide a natural shield to EMI or RFI. That makes them ideal for use in electronic enclosures that must be protected from electromagnetic interference.
Plastic Electrical Enclosures
Plastic enclosures are lightweight and offer good resistance to impact, chemicals, and corrosion. They are typically less expensive than steel or aluminum enclosures. As such, a plastic enclosure box provides a cost effective option for many applications.
Different types of plastic offer different levels of protection. For example, polycarbonate is a strong and durable material that offers good resistance to impact, while ABS is a lightweight enclosure material that suits less demanding applications. Here’s more:
Polycarbonate is a strong and durable material that offers good resistance to impact and other causes of damage. It’s a good choice for environments where the enclosure is subject to high levels of wear and tear and can be used for both indoor and outdoor enclosures.
ABS plastic is a lightweight material that offers a good choice for applications where weight is a concern. However, ABS enclosures do not offer the durability and sturdiness of polycarbonate. This enclosure material is, therefore, mostly used in situations where only basic protection is required.
Just like ABS, PVC is a lightweight and inexpensive enclosure material that can be used for a range of applications. PVC enclosures do not offer good durability and are best used in environments that do not subject the housing to extreme conditions. As such, these enclosures are not very popular.
Fiberglass Electrical Enclosures
Fiberglass enclosures are strong and durable, and offer good resistance to impact, chemicals, and heat. They are typically more expensive than plastic enclosures.
Fiberglass enclosures are a good choice for environments where the enclosure is subject to high levels of wear and tear. They are also a good choice for applications where the enclosure needs to withstand high temperatures.
Enclosure Material Selection
Selecting the right material for your electrical enclosure is an important decision that will affect the performance of your enclosure. During the enclosure material selection process, the following factors should be considered:
- Environmental conditions – Will the enclosure be used indoors or outdoors? Will it be situated in a harsh industrial environment or a clean office environment?
- Size and weight – What are the enclosure dimensions? How much does it weigh?
- Protection requirements – What type of protection does the enclosure need to provide? Impact protection, chemical resistance, or water resistance?
- Cost – What is your budget for the enclosure?
- Aesthetics – Does the appearance of the enclosure matter?
1. Environmental Conditions
Consider the environment that the enclosure will be used in. Some enclosure materials are better suited for harsh industrial environments, while others are better suited for clean office environments. For example, polycarbonate and ABS enclosures are a good choice for harsh industrial environments, while fiberglass enclosures are a good choice for clean office environments.
2. Enclosure Sizes and Weight
Some materials, such as aluminum, are lighter than others and may be a good choice for applications where weight is a concern. Size will also influence enclosure material selection. For example, large enclosures may require stronger materials, such as steel, to support the weight of the enclosure and its contents.
3. Enclosure Protection Rating
The type of protection that the enclosure needs to provide should be considered when selecting the material. Stainless steel enclosures, for instance, is a good choice for enclosures that need to be resistant to corrosion. However, the material is prone to dents, and is not a good choice for applications where the enclosure is subject to impact.
4. Enclosure Price
Among the factors that influence the enclosure price is the material used to make them. Cheap electrical enclosures are made from materials such as ABS, while more expensive enclosures are made from stainless steel and aluminum. When cost is a concern, it is important to balance the cost of the enclosure with its performance.
5. Enclosure Aesthetics
Finally, aesthetics is also an important consideration when selecting an enclosure material. The material should complement the overall design of the product and fit with the desired aesthetic. For example, you may prefer stainless steel enclosures for a clean and professional appearance.
Once you’ve considered all of these factors, you should have a good idea of the best material for your application. If you’re still not sure, or if you need help selecting the right material for your project, you may want to contact a professional enclosure company.
Their engineers will be able to narrow down your choices and select the best material for your application
Enclosure material selection is an important decision that will affect the performance of your enclosure. Consider the environment that the enclosure will be used in, the size and weight of the enclosure, the protection requirements, the cost, and the aesthetics when making your decision. Remember, you can always contact an expert for help with your material selection.