UL Type. NEMA. IP. When considering machinery that includes electrical controls, food processors are likely to encounter those terms in regard to the controls enclosure and external components. But what exactly do these enclosure ratings mean?
Let’s take a closer look.
What does UL mean?
Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is a not-for-profit organization that conducts safety and quality tests on a wide range of products, including electrical enclosures. The organization sets standards that participating manufacturers and other organizations across a variety of industries use to assess products and test components, materials, systems and performance.
EnSight Solutions is a UL 508A-certified organization.
This means our controls team is trained and certified to UL508A standards to ensure they properly design, build and inspect every and its components to the UL standards for Industrial Enclosures. It also means that when developing controls, the EnSight team will only use UL-certified parts when UL508a marking is requested in the project specifications.
Every set of controls is designed with UL508a standards in mind. When UL508a certification is requested for a panel, it provides our customers peace of mind knowing they’re receiving a product with national laboratory certification.
Because EnSight Solutions is a UL-certified shop, our enclosure ratings match those set by UL, which closely aligns with those from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Ingress Protection (IP) ratings–another common enclosure code system–are defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to provide a guideline for the amount and type of protection an electrical enclosure will provide. While UL and NEMA ratings are generally in tune with each other, IP ratings are completely different from them due to varying testing requirements, product feature requirements and more.
At EnSight, our default ratings will be UL type 4X for electronics enclosures and IP69K for field devices, i.e., switches, sensors and other devices that are located outside of the electronics enclosure.
UL type 4X, like NEMA Type 4X, enclosures are designed to protect interior components from hose-directed, falling and splashing water (to a limit), as well as from dust. The “X” in the rating denotes extra corrosion resistance, which is due to EnSight Solutions utilizing stainless steel enclosures. As long as the enclosure can be bagged during washdown, a UL type 4X enclosure will protect the components very well. It might, on the other hand, be able to provide full protection if the enclosure comes into contact with food products and needs to be directly hosed down.
In that case, IP69K would be more ideal.
An IP69K rating means the product will protect against any ingress by dust or water, even if the water is hot and high-pressure. Because switches and sensors are not inside the enclosure and will need to be washed down, we ensure they won’t let any water, dust or other debris get into the circuitry.
If IP69K enclosures and products provide so much more protection than type 4X products, why not just make all the enclosures and products IP69K rated?
IP69K-rated products can cost as much as three times more than its UL type 4X enclosure equivalent. The rating requirements aren’t the same, and neither is the componentry to reach those requirements. With everything from different hinges to different seals, one type isn’t an upgrade or downgrade from the other–they are separate products.
At EnSight Solutions, we work directly with food processors to understand their processes, products, challenges and opportunities. Our sales consultants will then help you determine which controls enclosure solution is right for you.
If you’re ready to learn more about EnSight Solutions and our food processing control solutions, please contact our sales consultants.