What Is a NEMA Rating, and What Are NEMA Enclosures?

Posted by Robert Faulkner on May 3, 2023

In many organizations, the IT environment is distributed across multiple data centers, branch locations, and edge computing sites. IT equipment may be installed in classrooms, retail stores, warehouses, manufacturing plants, and industrial sites to enable low-latency access to applications and data. However, these locations lack the environmentally controlled conditions of a well-managed data center.

Dust, moisture, and other substances create very real hazards for IT equipment. Organizations need server cabinets that protect equipment from these substances to reduce the risk of damage and downtime.

The NEMA standards allow organizations to assess an enclosure’s ability to prevent incursion by foreign substances. For example, an enclosure with a NEMA 12 rating protects against falling dust, dirt, fibers and lint, and dripping water and other noncorrosive liquids.

What Is a NEMA Enclosure?

A NEMA enclosure (also known as “NEMA box” or “NEMA cabinet”) is designed to protect electrical equipment and components from the surrounding environment. NEMA enclosures also protect property from damage and personnel from electrocution due to accidental contact with the electrical components.

Enclosures are rated according to technical standards developed by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Although NEMA standards cover a wide range of products and components, the organization is best known for its ratings for electrical enclosures. 

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What Is a NEMA Rating?

NEMA ratings are based on the NEMA 250 standard, which specifies testing and certification processes for 20 different types of enclosures. NEMA ratings for nonhazardous locations are numbered 1 through 6 and 11 through 13. The numbers are sometimes followed by one or more letters. Below is a selection of common ratings:

  • NEMA 1: protects against falling dirt in indoor locations
  • NEMA 2: protects against dripping and light splashing of liquids in indoor locations
  • NEMA 3: protects against windblown dust, rain, snow, and sleet in outdoor locations
  • NEMA 3R: includes a rain-tight seal for greater protection outdoors
  • NEMA 3S: dust-, rain- and sleet-proof
  • NEMA 4: watertight, dust-tight and sleet-resistant
  • NEMA 4X: watertight, dust-tight, sleet-resistant, and corrosion-resistant
  • NEMA 5: protects against dust and dripping and splashing liquids in indoor or outdoor locations
  • NEMA 6: can withstand water submersion
  • NEMA 6P: can withstand prolonged water submersion
  • NEMA 12: protects against dust and dripping and splashing liquids in indoor locations
  • NEMA 12K: provides the same protection as NEMA 12 but includes preconstruction knockouts
  • NEMA 13: protects against dust, dripping and splashing liquids, and noncorrosive oil and coolant seepage in indoor locations

NEMA standards are voluntary — manufacturers self-certify that their enclosures meet the criteria. Several third-party testing and certification organizations, including CSA, Intertek, and UL, will evaluate enclosures and certify that they meet NEMA standards.

NEMA ratings are commonly used in North America, and IP (ingress protection) ratings are used in the rest of the world. There are key differences between the two sets of standards, but they both refer to the protective qualities of an enclosure.

The Enconnex EdgeRack Industrial 8M

Our latest edge micro data center, the new EdgeRack Industrial 8M, is NEMA 12 and IP55 rated and is highly resistant to water, humidity, dust, dirt, and grime. Built for industrial environments and edge deployments, the EdgeRack Industrial 8M features fully welded seams, specialty sealants and gaskets, and provisions for cable glands.

The self-contained, side-mounted cooling unit delivers up to 8kW of cooling capacity. Because the cooling unit is built in, the EdgeRack Industrial 8M has the same form factor as a standard cabinet. It also has a built-in condensate water processing unit that evaporates condensation from the cooling unit, eliminating the need for drainage pipes. Secure, removable side panels allow multiple units to be deployed side-by-side and share cooling.

If you’re looking to unlock real-time data collection and processing in traditionally challenging environments, contact our server enclosure experts to discuss the benefits of the EdgeRack Industrial 8M. Explore micro data centers for sale today.

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Posted by Robert Faulkner on May 3, 2023

Robert Faulkner is the Vice President of Engineering and Operations at Enconnex. He comes from a strong background in product management with over 20 years in the IT industry. He currently holds an MSME and CDCD certification. He earned his MS degree in Mechanical Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno.

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