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Are Weatherproof Electrical Enclosures Safe?
When it comes to the safety of electrical equipment and personnel, we can all agree that there’s no such thing as being too cautious. Electrical components are integral parts of various industrial processes. Without them, we are thrust back into the dark ages where progress depends on slow and painful manual labor.
That’s not a huge concern for anyone at the moment—not with the pace at which technology is advancing. The more important question that you should be asking is, “how can I keep my personnel and my electrical components safe at all times?”.
Weatherproof electrical enclosures are designed with this exact question in mind. Think about how calamitous work environments would be if electrical systems were left exposed. Workplace injury rates would shoot through the roof, and you would be replacing electrical units every quarter just to stay operational.
To be considered adequate, a weatherproof electrical enclosure should be safe in two ways: safe for your electrical equipment, and safe for the people who have to work around live electricity on a daily basis.
If your junction box satisfies one purpose but not the other, then that defeats the purpose of having a weatherproof electrical enclosure in the first place. The safety of your equipment and your employees are two crucial considerations that must be made before you purchase any sort of enclosure.
How Does a Weatherproof Electrical Enclosure Protect Your Equipment?
Whether you have an IP-rated junction box or a NEMA enclosure, the same requirements are necessary to keep your vital electronic components protected. Here are the characteristics of an effective weatherproof electrical enclosure.
It Stops Water and Dust from Getting In
IP ratings and NEMA ratings specify how well an enclosure or junction box survives when exposed to the elements. Some enclosures can only withstand falling water and mild degrees of solid particle ingress—others are equipped to resist powerful jets of water.
Any weatherproof enclosure that’s considered safe for your electrical equipment should be able to protect it from both liquid and dust ingress. That’s the minimum requirement for an outdoor junction box. The specific protection rating to go for depends on the environmental conditions that surround your electrical system. Some applications (especially in industrial environments) demand a weatherproof electrical enclosure like the NEMA 4X junction box—a NEMA type 4 mild steel junction box suffices for others.
It Withstands Corrosion
Corrosion can be caused by freshwater, saltwater, or chemical environments. Nothing short of a NEMA 4X enclosure can keep your electrical equipment safe in such environments. The initial cost may be a little bit higher than that of standard electrical enclosure. Still, it is a worthy investment because NEMA 4X enclosures are known for their long-lasting durability and unrivaled resistance to corrosion.
It Acts as a Barrier Against Heat
Water and dust protections are essential, but let’s not forget that heat can also damage electrical systems. If your equipment is located in a high-temperature environment, you need to consider how much insulation an enclosure can provide.
Apart from physical insulation, an enclosure’s heat deflecting properties can be improved by the finish. Different colors provide different levels of insulation; for instance, white reflects more light, and therefore heat than dark green.
It Prevents Physical Interference
The most important job of any junction box is to protect electrical components from physical interference. Animals like rats and moles can gnaw through wiring and cause shorts in electrical circuits. Human intervention can also be an issue. Electrical equipment typically isn’t cheap, which is why the best enclosures feature reinforced hinges (piano hinges, for example), stainless steel builds, and powerful locks.
How Enclosures Protect Personnel
Getting a weatherproof electrical enclosure that keeps your equipment safe is only half the job. The other half involves protecting personnel from live currents. Ideally, you want a junction box that can fulfill the following purposes:
Prevent Against Accidental Shocks
The risk of an electrical accident occurring increases tenfold when an electrical circuit does not have some form of barrier around it. That’s why electrical enclosures are so important, especially in work environments.
Accidents happen without warning, and sometimes an enclosure can mean the difference between life and death.
Contain Electrical Fires
Sometimes electrical panels malfunction and become a working hazard. A short could easily lead to an electrical fire, which spreads quickly and can be challenging to mitigate. It is for this reason that some enclosures come with fire-proofing. They not only protect the components inside from fire damage, but they also help contain the fire to minimize damage and the risk of injuries.
Characteristics of a Safe Weatherproof Electrical Enclosure
The material that’s used in the construction of an enclosure directly affects its ability to protect your electrical equipment. You need something robust, durable, and capable of surviving harsh weather, especially if you intend to install it outdoors.
304 grade stainless steel is a good choice for most indoor and outdoor junction boxes, but for more rigorous and potentially corrosive environments, trust nothing less than 316 grade stainless steel, which can withstand the harshest industrial environments.
You can’t have an outdoor enclosure that isn’t weatherproof—that’s asking for trouble. Read through the specifications of every weatherproof electrical enclosure to ensure that you get the level of protection that your electrical systems, panels, and circuits need to survive outdoors.
Cut to Order
An enclosure that doesn’t meet your exact specifications can be tough to install and, more often than not, will lead to structural problems down the line. Having us pre-cut your custom holes in the enclosure for you will not only save you the time it’d take to do it yourself accurately, but it will also save you the money you’d spend returning the enclosure for precise cut-outs. Our electrical enclosures are delivered ready for wiring, allowing you to use your time more efficiently elsewhere.
The last thing you want is an enclosure with a rigid design, especially if you intend to upgrade your electrical systems in the future. Nowadays, there are plenty of options when it comes to enclosure add-ons. You can adjust their capacity, security, functionality, and protection post-installation using a variety of enclosure accessories.
Why You Can Trust West Tool Enclosures to Deliver Safe, Weatherproof Junction Boxes
We are Committed to Quality
West Tool Enclosures (WTE) is a leading manufacturer of high-grade stainless steel enclosures designed for the harshest environments. Our enclosures are superior in terms of build quality and material because we want you to get the most value out of them. We want to offer you a product that you can rely on to protect your valuable equipment, even in highly corrosive industrial environments. That’s the kind of excellence you can expect from a WTE product.
Our Enclosures are Built with Precision
Our exact custom cutting technology gives you reliable products every time. A product that doesn’t meet your system’s specifications is flawed. We ensure that each enclosure is built to suit the application for which it is designed. This means putting every cut out where it needs to be, getting the dimensions right, and assembling every enclosure with care before shipping them out to you.
That’s right; we send you fully-assembled junction boxes to make sure that everything fits where it needs to be.
We Have an Accurate Online Design Tool
The importance of getting your specifications right cannot be overstated, which is why we have a quality online design tool to help you communicate what you want through a quick and accurate process. We can guide you towards getting the ideal enclosure for your needs, and we are ready to supply submittal files and CAD documents throughout the design process for your adjustment and approval before construction begins.
We Will Ship Your Enclosures in Two Weeks
Not many enclosure manufacturers are dedicated to punctuality like we are at WTE. There is no reason your shipment should take months to arrive—we ship out most custom designs in just two weeks. We are the supplier you need if you want enclosures built precisely and delivered on extremely short notice.
We Care About Your Safety
All our enclosures are NEMA-certified and UL-listed to provide you with the right level of protection against all types of conditions. WTE offers excellence in everything from the build quality of our enclosures to our industry-leading lead times. Don’t settle for less when you want a safe, weatherproof electrical enclosure that you can trust.
Register an account with us to keep track of your custom builds and request quotes at your leisure, or contact us for a quick consultation.