Enclosures, Racks, Cabinets & Panel Products


The practicalities of an IP54 rating

20 September 2006 Enclosures, Racks, Cabinets & Panel Products

Because the cost of conventional office computing equipment is significantly lower than an equivalent industrial counterpart, many companies use office PCs in industrial environments by installing them in enclosures, nominally rated as Protection Classification IP54. The enclosures are intended to protect the computer electronics from physical damage and being contaminated by fluids and airborne contaminants.

From the official specification, IP54 is defined to offer protection against contact with dangerous parts, dust and water spray. It is interesting to note that dust penetration is not prevented altogether, but that: 'dust must not enter in sufficient quantities to prevent the equipment from operating satisfactorily, or to impair safety'. The obvious question is 'what exactly constitutes sufficient quantities?' This will depend on the nature of the dust and the location of the equipment within the enclosure.

Also of interest are the test conditions for dust protection. The enclosure under test is placed under a vacuum and exposed to talcum powder held in suspension. When one considers that most enclosures are placed under positive pressure the relevance of this test is questionable. The heat generated by the equipment necessitates that cool, but contaminated ambient air is pumped into the enclosure through filters. To minimise the dust ingress, the quality and maintenance of the filters becomes critical.

DrakEng Technologies offers a range of enclosures called Clean-Cab, which achieve IP54 equivalent protection by avoiding the need for fans and filters. Without having external air introduced into the enclosure, the source of dust is excluded. Where the heat generated by the PC cannot be sufficiently dissipated through the steel walls of the enclosure, a closed loop heat exchange module can be installed. Enclosures for monitors come with their own integrated closed loop cooling system.





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