Accessorizing Your Nonmetallic Enclosure

I don’t know if you watched it, but one of my favorite adult cartoons 
was “King of the Hill.” Hank, the main character was easy to identify 
with (although I look more like his father, Cotton).<br><br>Hank sold, as he often mentioned, “Propane and propane accessories.” Allied Moulded Products, Inc.

Steve Maurer, IME

I don’t know if you watched it, but one of my favorite adult cartoons was “King of the Hill.” Hank, the main character was easy to identify with (although I look more like his father, Cotton).
Hank sold, as he often mentioned, “Propane and propane accessories.”

This article isn’t about propane, obviously. But it is about accessories. Accessories designed to dress up your nonmetallic enclosures. And some options that not only make them more useful… but they can save you time in the long run.

Let’s start at the top and work our way down
Of course, every enclosure has a lid of some type. Many are held in place by screws. But there are times when a cover that’s more easily removed are helpful. If the box houses electrical components, you may want easy access. So a hinged lid makes the perfect option.

If the components must be checked regularly, such as indicator lights or meters, a window lid is the best bet. Whether for routine inspection or periodic observation, window lids give you a view. Of course, they can be installed on a stationary lid or a hinged cover.

Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we? An inner front panel, situated behind the lid or window, keeps fingers safe from electrical shock. I’ve installed many of these, usually for counters and meters. Since they’re hinged on one side, easy access is possible when necessary.

At the bottom of the box rests the backplate. Normally it’s fastened to short standoffs. But have you noticed those groove in the corners of av FRP or polycarbonate enclosure? They’re actually tracks for inner panel depth adjustment.

Need your panel to breath? Often electronic components need steady air movement so they don’t fail. But you can’t leave the box open, can you. That’s where exterior ventilators and baffles come into play. And be sure to install a filter, particularly if you include a fan for better circulation.

If installed in a wet or washdown environment, make sure they’re constructed to keep spraying water out. As with any accessory, use components that won’t derate the enclosure’s NEMA rating.

Print pockets round out the interior options. This will keep documentation like wiring diagrams and user manuals handy, yet out of the way.

Other useful options to save time and money
If you have a hinged cover, you’ll need latches to keep it closed. Plastic latches are available, but stainless really holds up. When ordering stainless latches, a 316-grade steel out performs 308-grade. The metal alloy makeup… makes a huge difference.

Finally, you need holes in the enclosure for conduit, switches, and pushbuttons. Sure, nonmetallic boxes are easy to work with. But what if you have a bunch of them to install?

Of course, holes for buttons and such are quite common. But what if you need a special configuration? If you have the installation specifications already laid out, consider having the manufacturer predrill your holes for you.

It’ll save you time and make installation a breeze! Well, may not a breeze; but certainly more efficient.

Check out the various types, sizes and specifications for nonmetallic boxes for your next project. Just be sure to find someone who sells enclosures and enclosure accessories.

Photo courtesy of Allied Moulded Products, Inc.

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