The modern world relies on electricity. Nowhere is a strong, reliable electrical connection more essential than in industrial and commercial settings where workers depend on the power to complete their tasks appropriately and safely on a daily basis.
In addition to the physical wiring that provides electrical currents, building systems also require electrical enclosures to maintain appropriate working conditions for the system. Because the electrical system for each building depends on the energy needed, enclosures must often be custom designed.
In this blog, we list seven of the fundamental considerations that must be factored into the design for an electrical enclosure.
There are several types of electrical enclosures, each intended to house systems with different specifications. For example, servers tend to be housed in large, free-standing enclosures, while household electrical enclosures can be wall-mounted.
In industrial and commercial settings, most electrical enclosures are free-standing, wall-mounted, or equipment-mounted. As the name suggests, equipment-mounted enclosures are actually integrated into a machine’s frame to maximize the space in a facility.
The type of enclosure that you choose often depends on the next two considerations: location and layout.
As with any vital building element, electrical enclosures must go in locations that meet specific requirements. Ideally, your enclosure should go into an area with a fairly stable temperature, light level, and moisture level since these environmental factors can affect the performance of the electrical system as a whole.
Additionally, you may need to choose your location based on the size of the electrical panel itself or on the amount of space you have available. For example, equipment-mounted enclosures are often chosen on production floors when space is at a premium, but most of the electrical components are fairly small.
Before you make any decisions about the design of your electrical enclosure, you must know the design of your electrical panel. Use a schematics sheet to estimate the finished dimensions of all the components.
In some cases, you may actually need to plan for multiple electrical enclosures. For example, when servers are connected to the main electrical system, the server must often go into a separate enclosure or the enclosure must be expanded and specially designed to house both the panel and the server.
Once you know the fundamental size, shape, and location of your electrical panel and enclosure, you can begin to make decisions about the creation of the physical enclosure. Start by considering your primary material.
Most industrial and commercial electrical enclosures consist of sheet metal, however, some project managers or contractors choose other materials like fiberglass. Metal offers the benefits of long-term durability, rapid manufacturing, and easier safety and security measures.
Some fabricators offer enclosures made of aluminum and copper, but steel and steel alloys are by far the most common electrical enclosure materials due to their inherent strength and corrosion resistance. Additionally, steel sheets can be manipulated to fit almost any dimensions necessary for the enclosure.
In addition to the primary material, you must decide on how the parts of the final electrical enclosure will be fastened together. The type of fastener you choose typically depends on the material of the enclosure itself.
For example, steel is highly compatible with stud welding methods. Stud welding can offer faster results that require less access to the enclosure. Other types of welding can require work on both sides of the fastened material, while stud welding only calls for work on a single side.
Discuss your fastening options with your fabricator.
Once you know how your electrical enclosure will be made, you must discuss your options for manufacturing and assembly. In some cases, the fabricator can come to your facility or work site and create the enclosure there.
In other cases, the fabricator will complete the enclosure offsite and ship and assemble the electrical enclosure in its final location.
In addition to the initial fabrication of your enclosure and its installation, your manufacturer may take final steps to ensure the enclosure’s safety and security. These steps may include:
- Adding an anti-corrosion coating to the interior and exterior
- Creating measures to reduce the risk of pest infestation, especially from rodents
- Installing heat control elements to manage internal enclosure temperatures
- Placing an access control key system on a sensitive electrical enclosure
Be sure to discuss any particular concerns about the safety or security of your enclosure. For example, if your enclosure will be exposed to more moisture or heat than is usual, different measures may be necessary.
Consider these factors as you implement a plan for a new electrical enclosure in your facility, office building, or work site. Partner with a reputable electrical enclosure fabricator to ensure that your final specifications meet the requirements of both your systems and the relevant building codes.