Selecting the right enclosure

Wednesday, 15 January, 2020

Selecting the right enclosure

Enclosures provide the main source of protection for the components or systems housed within, and therefore selecting the right housing is essential.

The material


There are a variety of plastic types, from ABS to glass-reinforced, depending on the application. Plastic enclosures offer design flexibility, higher functionality, better insulation, light weight and radio frequency permeability, and come in a wide range of colours. They are ideal for electronic applications.


Metal housings offer greater mechanical strength, better resistance to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, wide temperature range and good EMC characteristics. They are ideal for industrial applications. There are a number of metal types, from coated steel to aluminium and stainless steel, depending on the application and environment.

Environmental considerations

From airborne debris to high or low temperatures and UV rays, environmental elements can have a significant impact on how an enclosure will perform over the years. Consideration needs to be given to whether the enclosure will be located indoors or outdoors, and the weather, UV and harsh chemical sprays it may be exposed to.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)

Plastic enclosures often have low EMC characteristics, whereas metal enclosures have high EMC characteristics. This means that metal enclosures should be used when electromagnetic compatibility is very important.

The Ingress Protection (IP) rating

The IP categories specify the extent to which the enclosure is sealed, the rating indicating the level of protection from dust and water. The IP rating consists of a two digit number. The first digit indicates the level of protection against solid objects, while the second is for the ingress of water.

First digit: solids
Level Protection Effective against
0 Not protected No protection against contact and ingress of objects.
1 >50 mm Any large surface of the body, such as the back of the hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part.
2 >12.5 mm Fingers or similar objects.
3 >2.5 mm Tools, thick wires, etc.
4 >1 mm Most wires, screws etc.
5 Dust protected Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment; complete protection against contact.
6 Dust tight No ingress.
Second digit: liquids
Level Protection Effective against
0 Not protected  
1 Dripping water Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.
2 Dripping water when tilted up to 15° Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.
3 Spraying water Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.
4 Splashing water Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
5 Water jets Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
6 Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
7 Immersion up to 1 m Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).
8 Immersion beyond 1 m The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Normally, this will mean that the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter, but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effect.

The Impact Protection (IK) rating

The IK rating defines the degression of protection provided by enclosures for electrical equipment against external mechanical impacts in accordance with IEC 62262.2002 and IEC 60068-2-75:1997.

IK01 Protected against 0.14 J impact Equivalent to impact of 0.25 kg mass dropped from 56 mm above impacted surface.
IK02 Protected against 0.2 J impact Equivalent to impact of 0.25 kg mass dropped from 80 mm above impacted surface.
IK03 Protected against 0.35 J impact Equivalent to impact of 0.25 kg mass dropped from 140 mm above impacted surface.
IK04 Protected against 0.5 J impact Equivalent to impact of 0.25 kg mass dropped from 200 mm above impacted surface.
IK05 Protected against 0.7 J impact Equivalent to impact of 0.25 kg mass dropped from 280 mm above impacted surface.
IK06 Protected against 1 J impact Equivalent to impact of 0.25 kg mass dropped from 400 mm above impacted surface.
IK07 Protected against 2 J impact Equivalent to impact of 0.5 kg mass dropped from 400 mm above impacted surface.
IK08 Protected against 5 J impact Equivalent to impact of 1.7 kg mass dropped from 300 mm above impacted surface.

The RS PRO seal of approval

Since 1937, RS PRO has had a passion for industrial parts. More importantly, it believes that every part matters, because the quality of your applications will always be linked to the quality of every part going into them.This is why the company rigorously tests every part against demanding industry standards to gain the RS PRO Seal of Approval.

The RS PRO range includes over 1000 enclosures that have been audited to industry standards, inspected by leading engineers, and tested and approved to bring users quality that they can rely on.

To view the complete range of RS PRO enclosures, click here.

Related Sponsored Contents

CM3C.. servomotors: dynamic power and tailored modularity

The CM3C.. servomotor series are compact, dynamic, and powerful servomotors designed to...

Motor control solutions: Driving efficiency and savings across industries

Australia's path to Net Zero by 2050 underscores the critical importance of enhancing energy...

The next evolution of process wiring

For convenient, cost effective and safer process wiring solutions it is time to leave rigid...

  • All content Copyright © 2024 Westwick-Farrow Pty Ltd