Industrial Enclosures Information


Large Outdoor Enclosures imageIndustrial enclosures are used to house electronic components, equipment, and devices. They protect personnel from accidental injury while the equipment is in operation and prevent the ingress of environmental contaminants such as dust and water.



Types of Industrial Enclosures 


There are many types of industrial enclosures that vary based on size, rating, material, and what they are designed to encapsulate. 


Console enclosures are freestanding and have a sloped front or top for mounting control components.

Consolet enclosures have a sloped front and can be mounted on either of two sides to provide a control surface with a 30° or 60° incline. These enclosures are used to house electric or electronic components and are ideal for the mounting of pushbutton and other operator control devices.

Modular enclosures have standardized dimensions and can be stacked or assembled to create larger cabinets or customized enclosures.

NEMA and IP enclosures house and protect electrical devices and electronic components. The National Electrical Manufactures Association (NEMA) is responsible for assessing enclosures for indoor/outdoor use as well as hazardous and non-hazardous locations. Ingress protection (IP) discusses how the enclosures protect against foreign objects and moisture. In general, an IP rating of IP65 or better is needed for enclosures used in outside environments.

PC enclosures are designed specifically to house personal computers (PCs) in industrial environments.8150 Extreme Enclosure image

Rack enclosures or cabinets are designed to house standard 19-inch components or other standard, rack mounted devices.

Terminal boxes and junction boxes are rectangular enclosures that house electronic components and facilitate wiring.

Selection Considerations


When selecting enclosures, correct size and adequate protection are the priorities. When considering quality of protection, material type, and professional rating systems are the deciding factors.


Industrial Enclosure Cooling. Video Credit: EICSolutions / CC BY-SA 4.0


The size of an enclosure depends on what is being encapsulated. Industrial enclosures are rectangular or T-shaped and may include a sloped or slanted surface. They are made from a variety of materials and are available in many different sizes, sealing configurations, and mounting styles. Enclosures may come in standardized dimensions or shapes which can be stacked for assembly, or they can be custom built to particular specifications.


Material Types

The amount of protection and durability an enclosure offers depends largely on its material composition. Most industrial enclosures are made from materials classified as either metals or polymers.


Metals generally exhibit higher conductivity to both heat and electricity than other material types. Steel is widely used to form enclosures because of its strength and malleability. Stainless steel is used rather than standard steel in environments requiring corrosion resistance and lightweight materials. Aluminum is a less expensive, lightweight, and more conductive metal that exhibits good resistance to oxidation.

Polymer materials are nonmetal materials with varying properties. ABS is a hard, rigid, inexpensive thermoplastic polymer that has good chemical and creep resistance, but is prone to cracking under stress. Fiberglass is a strong, durable, reinforced polymer that is resistant to many caustics and extreme temperatures. Polycarbonate exhibits excellent impact strength and can be molded to tight tolerances, but has only moderate resistance to chemical corrosion. Polystyrene is used for its rigidity, hardness, heat, dimensional stability, and ease of fabrication.

Rating Systems

NEMA ratings indicate whether industrial enclosures are suitable for hazardous or non-hazardous locations and designed for indoor or outdoor use. All NEMA enclosures protect personnel against incidental contact with the enclosed equipment. The chart below describes common NEMA enclosures types:


Rating Protects against
NEMA 1 General purpose indoor, prevents accidental contact of personnel with the enclosed equipment
NEMA 3R Windblown dust, vertical rain, severe external corrosion
NEMA 4 Dust, watertight, splashing rain, hose directed water, severe external condensation
NEMA 4X Dust, rain, splashing rain, hose directed water, ice, corrosion resistant
NEMA 12 Indoor, dust, falling dirt, dripping non-corrosive material
NEMA 7 Withstands the pressure from an internal explosion from the specified gas ignited


More information on NEMA ratings can be found on the >IEEE GlobalSpec Help Page.


The Ingress Protection (IP) ratings system from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) describes the degree to which industrial enclosures provide protection against the ingress of foreign objects and moisture. There are six IP ratings that describe protection against foreign objects and vary from >50 mm particle protection to completely dust-tight protection. There are eight IP ratings for protection against moisture which vary from dripping water protection to protection when completely submersed. The chart below is a quick summary of IP ratings. IP scores are given in "xx" combinations, where the first 'x' is the protection against solid objects and the second 'x' is protection against liquids.







No special protection


No protection


Protected against solid objects over 50mm


Protection against vertically falling drops of water/condensation


Protected against solid objects over 12mm


Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15° from the vertical


Protected against solid objects over 2.5mm


Protection against direct sprays of water up to 60° from the vertical


Protected against solid objects over 1mm


Protection against direct sprays of water from all directions - limited ingress permitted


Protected against dust limited ingress


Protection against low pressure jets of water from all directions - limited ingress permitted


Totally protected against dust


Protection against temporary flooding of water - limited ingress




Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 1 m




Protects against long periods of immersion under pressure




Industrial enclosures must adhere to certain specifications and standards. Standards such as CSA C22.2 No 94-M91 discuss special purpose enclosures for industrial products, while ASSE 1060 describes performance requirements for outdoor enclosures for fluid conveying components. ASTM E9596 is used for testing noise reduction of sound-isolating enclosures.




Design Considerations for M2M Products

Enclosure (NEMA + IP) Ratings




Alpha Technology | STAHL



Already a GlobalSpec user? Log in.

This is embarrasing...

An error occurred while processing the form. Please try again in a few minutes.

Customize Your GlobalSpec Experience

Category: Industrial Enclosures
Privacy Policy

This is embarrasing...

An error occurred while processing the form. Please try again in a few minutes.