Sheet metal enclosures are crucial to electrical components housed in hazardous environments. They protect from harsh weather, dust, corrosion, and theft, so they must be well-made, durable, and perfect for your application.

Despite their simple appearance, each enclosure is usually built with simplicity, durability, and versatility in mind.
Most sheet metal enclosures are custom-made to fit specific needs. However, it is possible to find great off-the-shelf enclosures, especially with the right manufacturer.

When shopping for a sheet metal enclosure, consider the following questions to find the right model:

• What environmental hazards am I protecting my device from (exposure, precipitation, corrosion, etc.)?
• What NEMA or IP rating does the enclosure need to protect my device?
• How big does the enclosure need to be?
• What kind of essential attachments and components (hinges, locks, mounting flanges) will it need?

Environmental Hazards

Sheet metal enclosures take the brunt of the outside world, so your electrical equipment stays safe. As such, they must be built durably and equipped with measures to protect the components inside them from various hazards.

For example, a high NEMA and IP rating may be necessary if you want an enclosure that shields the device from dust, dirt, and debris that could accumulate and cause damage to internal components.

The same applies if you’re mainly concerned about safeguarding the device from moisture and water to prevent corrosion and short-circuiting.

Sheet metal enclosures can also be designed to protect against exposure to extreme temperatures, UV radiation, and other environmental factors that could degrade the performance of your electrical components or cause them to fail prematurely.

NEMA/IP Rating

To verify that an enclosure can offer a particular level of protection, you can check its NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) or IP (Ingress Protection) rating.

These ratings define the enclosure's ability to resist environmental hazards such as dust, water, and corrosion.
For instance, an enclosure with a higher NEMA rating may have gasketed doors, latches, and seals that prevent solid objects and water ingress.

IP ratings are not much different. These ratings specify the enclosure's ability to safeguard against solid objects and moisture intrusion. The ratings consist of two digits: the first indicates solid particle protection, and the second represents water ingress protection.

Size and Capacity

At the very least, the sheet metal enclosure you buy must be spacious enough to accommodate all necessary components, including circuit boards, wiring, connectors, switches, and other relevant elements, without overcrowding or risking damage.

Getting a spacious enclosure is essential for many other reasons:

• Sufficient space is vital for ease of assembly
• Clearance and routing space should be accounted for
• Space should be left for any potential future upgrades or modifications

Essential Components

Sheet metal enclosures may require several essential components to fulfil their function effectively. They include:

• Hinges – Hinges provide access to the enclosure, allowing for easy opening and closing of doors or panels to access the enclosed components.

• A lock or locking mechanism – A lock ensures secure and controlled access to the enclosure, preventing unauthorized entry and protecting the enclosed components from theft and tampering.

• Mounting flanges or brackets – These components enable secure attachment of the enclosure to a wall, floor, or other structure, ensuring stability and proper positioning.


The first thing you should consider when buying a sheet metal enclosure is the environmental hazards you want it to withstand. It should provide adequate protection to your electrical components.

It’s also important to check the NEMA and IP ratings, size, and components a sheet metal enclosure comes with. All these work in tandem to ensure it provides the best protection for your electrical devices.

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