Choosing the Right Waterproof Electrical Enclosure: NEMA 6P / IP68
Over the last two decades there have been many significant advancements in technology. With these technological advancements, there is now a higher reliance upon complex electrical systems. From reliable infrastructure and automation to defense systems, protecting those electrical systems in our modern world is more important than ever before.
In order to negate complete electrical system failures, there must be protection of every component from the external environment and its elements. With an electrical enclosure, equipment can be kept safe from a variety of threats. Electrical enclosures are found across all industries, and are designed specifically to preserve vital electrical equipment. These types of enclosure[s] are rated individually based on the type of protection they provide. With that said, not all enclosure[s] are created equal.
Ratings for enclosures come from NEMA, The National Electrical Manufacturers Association. NEMA forms the technical standards for which manufacturing of electrical equipment adheres to. An enclosure must be made in accordance with the NEMA technical standards. Most enclosure[s] throughout the world are rated NEMA 4, 4X or IP67, and protect from dust and mild water ingress. So how does one know what electrical equipment enclosure is needed, and for what environment? The answer to that question is as follows.
What is a NEMA 6P or IP68 Rated Enclosure
As noted above, all enclosure[s] are rated individually for their ability to protect electrical equipment from external hazards. Generally, the higher the IP rating, the better protection the enclosure will offer. To note, this does not apply to NEMA 12 and 13 rated enclosures because these only offer basic protection. In regards to deep or continuous submersion, significant water flow, high pressure water or flooding, only NEMA 6P or IP68 rated enclosures will meet the requirements.
When environmental factors dictate the use of an enclosure in a difficult setting, a NEMA 6P or IP68 will be required. The NEMA 6P or IP68 rated enclosure[s] offer the highest levels of protection against water and dust ingress. What this means, is that if your electrical equipment will be subject to harsh conditions, this type of enclosure will always be the most resilient choice. NEMA 6P or IP68 enclosures come in a variety of design and materials including:
For most industrial applications, 316 stainless steel is used for offshore platforms, naval applications and more because of its corrosion resistance, easy fabrication and its excellent sustainability. Each application is determined by a client’s specifications and environmental conditions regarding corrosion, impact and UV degradation, which will we be discussing later.
Are All NEMA 6P and IP68 Enclosures the Same?
The short answer to this question is no. Although an enclosure of this rating should offer up the same protection against dust and water ingress as another, designs will differ significantly. Depending upon the application, an enclosure of this rating will only perform according to its design.
In order to determine the enclosure that will suit your needs and requirements, you must first consider its environment, application and purpose. Environment deals with the physical location of where the enclosure will be installed. Application refers to fit, form and the functionality of an enclosure. As for purpose, this has to do with what will be the enclosure’s intended use. Essentially, what will the enclosure protect the electrical equipment from.
Knowledge of physical location, or environment, is important in design and material choice of an enclosure. When speaking about the location of where an enclosure will be placed, there are a few considerations to note when making your decision, and they are:
Corrosion: If the enclosure will be in a corrosive environment, it is important to note that a NEMA 6P enclosure differs from a IP. The NEMA 6P enclosure has a rating for corrosion resistance as well as ingress protection. Saltwater and certain types of chemicals require enclosures to be made of corrosive resistant materials. Whether its a marine environment or an automotive spray booth, the application will be different, but both environments will require the same level of resistance from corrosion. Choosing an enclosure material that will not degrade over time is important so that the reliability of a system is not affected.
Impact: Impact protection is important in flood zones due to debris, or in areas where the enclosure could come into contact with other machinery and equipment. When selecting an enclosure, it’s important to carefully consider how it will be impacted by its surrounding environment.
UV Degradation: Over a period of time, UV rays can deteriorate the structural integrity of an enclosure. When degradation occurs, the enclosure will effectively break down and crack, leaving the electrical equipment susceptible to ingress of hazards. If an enclosure will be exposed to UV rays, a stainless steel enclosure may be better suited for the environment.
When reviewing the application of an enclosure, there are several questions that need to be asked.
- What sort of equipment will it hold?
- What size will be needed? Sizing involves considering the internal space and how the electrical equipment will be mounted.
- What accessories of features will I need? EMC shielding, hubs, hinged doors, etc. can be added to improve the functionality of the enclosure.
- How will it be mounted? Options may include welding in place or bolting it down
- Where will it be mounted? Wall, floor, under a vehicle, etc.
Each of the above questions will need to be answered so that the appropriate design can be created or modified to meet the environment and application requirements.
By addressing the above in regards to environment, the purpose will be established. An area that is prone to heavy dust, such as an open cut coal mine, will require a different style of enclosure in contrast to those that are located on a pier and subject to storm surges.
For example, drawing from our heavy coal mine dust example above, preventing this type of heavy buildup of dust on top of the enclosure, a watershed style enclosure will be best. With its sloped roof to provide runoff, this type of enclosure would be most suitable for the environment, application and purpose.
Ultimately, environment, application and purpose are intertwined, and should all be considered when choosing an enclosure for any setting (industrial, commercial or military). As we have discussed what a NEMA 6P and IP68 enclosure is and the differences among them, let’s talk about where you can find one.
SLAYSON® has the world’s most extensive range of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) NEMA 6P | IP68 Enclosures. Our enclosures can be modified or custom made to to suit your needs. We offer a variety of accessories to create an engineered enclosure solution that is specific to your fit, form and function. Our most popular enclosure[s] are made from marine grade 316 stainless steel, which are long lasting and capable of withstanding corrosion, impact and UV degradation.
If we do not have what you are looking for, SLAYSON®’s team of engineers can design, engineer and manufacture a unique enclosure to meet your exact needs. Feel free to contact us and let us help you find the enclosure you need.