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What Is “NEMA”?

What does “NEMA” stand for? NEMA is The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is an organization that forms the standards for the manufacturing of medical imaging equipment and electrical equipment. The purpose is to provide the safety, environment, and marketing enhancement of the industry. They publish more than 700 standards, in addition to white papers and technical papers to keep the industry abreast on standards for safety and protection. Their standards include protection for enclosures, motors, AC plugs, and magnet wire. To learn more about equipment enclosure classifications and industry standards, click here.

NEMA provides a standard rating that defines environments for electrical enclosures, which outlines the enclosure’s ability to withstand certain conditions. Ultimately, NEMA standards benefit the user and manufacturer while improving safety and communication between purchaser and manufacturer.

NEMA Enclosures
A NEMA enclosure is a type of protective box or cover that shields equipment from different forms of damage. Enclosures have different types of ratings (see below), and each provides differing levels of protection and benefits.

Importance of a NEMA Enclosure
It is crucial to consider the type of enclosure needed when outlining how to protect electrical gear, such as manual transfer switches, electrical control panels, or automatic transfer switches from harm.

NEMA enclosures are different in that they serve different purposes, have different locations, and receive different NEMA ratings. There are a few important reasons why you should use a NEMA enclosure:

• Water: Water can come in different quantities from different locations. A NEMA enclosure can protect against everything from long-term submersion to a light drizzle, including direct contact from a hose. Enclosures can also protect against winter elements like sleet and snow to ensure that there is no interruption of services in the event of a snow storm or an enclosure of ice.

• Humans: A NEMA enclosure can protect humans from electrical shock or possible injury that can arise as a result of direct contact with electric elements.

• Dirt, Dust, and Debris: Locations can vary for a NEMA enclosure, which means it must be versatile enough to withstand anything from falling debris to a covering of dust both indoor and outdoor.

• Oil: NEMA enclosures can protect against dripping or spraying oil or coolants.

• Explosions: Certain enclosures can provide protection against more hazardous locations.

It can be difficult to determine the type of enclosure depending on the location and protection needs. NEMA enclosures are subject to certain NEMA ratings, which can indicate the best type of enclosure for a certain location’s protection needs.

NEMA Ratings

Ratings are not a mandatory requirement for electrical components and how they are designed or built—NEMA ratings are simply a completely voluntary industry standard.

NEMA 1- A NEMA 1 enclosure is typically best suited for indoor use. It can protect humans from electric shock as a result of contact with live electrical parts. The equipment can also be protected from light falling debris, like dirt.

NEMA 2- While very similar to a NEMA 1 rating, NEMA 2 ratings provide a bit of additional protection relative to NEMA 1 enclosures. It can protect against light dripping or splashing water.

NEMA 3R, 3RX- Engineered for outdoor or indoor use that can protect against the formation of ice around the enclosure, rain, snow, sleet, and dirt.

NEMA 3, 3X- Made for both indoor and outdoor use, as they are rain-tight, sleet-tight, and dust-tight. This designation also indicates that there are extra protections against the elements relative to a 3R or 3RX rating.

NEMA 3S, 3SX- These enclosures provide the same benefit as NEMA 3 enclosures, but there is additional operability when encased in ice.

NEMA 4, 4X- Offers the same degree of protection as the NEMA 3 enclosure, but with additional protection against hose-directed water or water ingress. This can be helpful when cleaning off the enclosure. It can also protect against ice and any dirt.

NEMA 6, 6P- In addition to the water protections found in NEMA 4 enclosures, NEMA 6 enclosures can protect against water submersion up to a certain depth.

NEMA 7- Built for hazardous locations that can also provide protection against explosion—but, it is for indoor use.

NEMA 8- Also built for protection against hazardous locations, including protection against explosions, and it can be used both indoor and outdoor.

NEMA 9- Protection against dust ignition, intended for indoor use, and usable in hazardous locations.

NEMA 10- Meets the Mine Safety and Health Administration standards for enclosures

NEMA 12, 12K- Enclosures that are typically intended for general and indoor use. They can protect against splashing water and rust, in addition to circulating dust or falling dirt.

NEMA 13- Meant for general purpose and indoor use that provide the same protections as a NEMA 12 enclosure, but can also protect against spraying oil or coolants.

Learn more about how ASCO can help you find the right NEMA enclosure by to protect your electrical equipment and best serve your indoor or outdoor needs.