Choosing the right enclosure maybe as important as selecting the right product. An electronic enclosure, also known as housing, helps protect the circuit board allowing it to function properly. Elements (e.g. water, wind, dust, dirt, heat, cold, humidity, and chemicals) in the surrounding environment could damage or deteriorate the product (see Figure 1).
For example, large temperature variations between the inside and outside of the enclosure can result in pressure differences that may create a vacuum and draw water through the fittings or component and gasket seals. Or when moist air reaches its dew point, it can no longer hold its form and forms moisture droplets being formed on any available surfaces. This is called condensation. When temperatures are below freezing, it will condense into frost. After time, corrosion occurs and causes electrical resistance, which in turn generates additional heat, product performance problems, rusting, increasing risk of circuit shorting out, and arcing and sparking incidences.
Here are six factors to think about before choosing an enclosure:
- Thermal management requirements
- Enclosure performance standards
Deciding on the appropriate material for the enclosure, potential environmental threats and application location should be considered. Enclosures are constructed of metals (eg. aluminum, steel) or non-metallic materials (eg. plastic, fiberglass), depending on application performance requirements as seen in Table 4. Table 5 describes the advantages and disadvantages of each enclosure material.
Written by: Teresa Kouch, Marketing