Types of Waterproof Enclosures

In the world of outdoor electrical enclosures, the term “waterproof” is often used as a broad description. So what does waterproof mean, exactly? And what makes an enclosure worthy of this designation?

Waterproof typically describes an object that is impermeable to water and other liquids. Just like the protective coating on your work boots that keeps your feet dry, an enclosure provides a layer of protection around sensitive electronics. The amount of water an enclosure protects against, and the conditions in which it remains impermeable, depends on its NEMA Rating.

Nearly all NEMA rated enclosures protect against light splashes of water by using solid construction and hydrophobic gaskets. However, if your enclosure will see conditions like rain, wash-downs or even underwater submersion, then a greater protection rating is required.

FIP Gasket
FIP Gasket

Weatherproof Enclosures

NEMA Type 3 enclosures are the first level of weatherproof enclosures. They can protect against typical outdoor conditions including rain, sleet, and snow. NEMA 3SX rated enclosures can even protect against, and remain operational despite of, ice. Although these enclosures don’t completely keep water out, they work by directing water away from valuable electronics through drainage channels and rain shields. NEMA 3 enclosures are a good fit for light-duty outdoor applications.

Wash Down Enclosures

For food processing plants, carwashes and other applications that see hose directed water, a minimum NEMA 4 rating is required. To receive a NEMA 4X “waterproof” designation, an enclosure must withstand a hose directed spray at a flow rate of 65 gallons per minute – about 4 times that of your typical garden hose – from about 10 feet away. This simulates a wash down procedure which is common for industrial plants, and food and beverage production.

NEMA 4 and 4X enclosures also work to seal out moisture in humid environments like in artificial rain forests and indoor water parks. For long lasting protection in such wet conditions, a NEMA 4X rating is recommended due to its ability to resist rust and corrosion.

Submersible Enclosures

NEMA 6P rated enclosures can be considered the most “waterproof” due to their ability to be temporarily submersed under water without leaking. This rating specifically certifies that an enclosure will remain water-tight at up to 6 ft of water for up to 24 hours. NEMA 6P enclosures are a great choice for flood prone areas and in industries such as water treatment plants.

For help finding the best enclosure style for your project, contact us online or call 440-269-4966 to speak with an expert.

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