How to Protect Electrical Components in a Washdown Environment

closeup high pressure water cleaner

Regular washdowns are a must for many different kinds of facilities. From food service to livestock processing to manufacturing, cleaning with pressurized water is a standard way to keep facilities clean and sanitary. However, sensitive electrical components can be easily damaged by hose-directed water, potentially leading to equipment problems and unsafe situations.

To prevent damage to electrical components during a washdown, it’s important to have these components protected by a washdown enclosure. Polycase offers numerous waterproof enclosures rated to protect against washdowns, including models that also guard against corrosion and submersion.

First, let’s take a look at the protective features a washdown enclosure should offer. Then, we’ll talk about the easiest way to tell if an enclosure is rated to protect against washdowns–by looking at its NEMA or IP ratings. Finally, we’ll examine some of the many options that Polycase offers to protect your most sensitive electrical equipment.

What Features Should a Washdown Enclosure Offer?

When shopping for a washdown enclosure, there’s one feature to look for above all others: a waterproof gasket seal. Gasket seals, located inside the enclosure, are typically made from silicone or other durable rubber materials. They close the tiny gaps of the enclosure’s seams, keeping out water and other liquids (along with dust and dirt). Many different designs for gasket seals exist, but the most important thing is that they meet NEMA or IP specifications (described in the next section).

Although gasket seals are the most critical feature to look for, other design elements can also improve an enclosure’s performance in washdown conditions. These include:

  • Construction from a corrosion-resistant material (such as stainless steel or aluminum) that can shrug off getting wet repeatedly and/or contact with harsh chemicals
  • Transparent polycarbonate cover pieces so instruments inside can be observed without opening the enclosure while conditions outside are still wet
  • Recessed screws and threads

Which NEMA or IP Ratings Should I Look for on a Washdown Enclosure?

To learn whether an enclosure is designed to keep your electrical components safe from pressurized water jets, look at its NEMA or IP rating. These rating systems are both designed to keep enclosure buyers informed about an enclosure’s protective features, including whether it’s safe for use in facilities that have regular washdowns.

When examining an enclosure’s ratings, look for the following:

  • NEMA Ratings: Look for a NEMA 4, 4X, 6 or 6P enclosure rating, all of which include a waterproof gasket seal for washdown protection. Keep in mind that many numerically higher ratings are not necessarily a higher grade of protection—a NEMA 12 enclosure, for example, will not protect against washdowns.
  • IP Ratings: The second digit in an IP rating indicates how well it protects against liquid ingress. For washdown environments, you’ll want an IP rating that ends in 6, such as IP56 or IP66. The 6 indicates that the enclosure is protected against direct high-pressure water jets.

Polycase ML-22F

Polycase ML-22F*1508

What Washdown Enclosures Are Available from Polycase?

Polycase’s enclosures are designed to keep your most critical electronics safe and dry. We have several models that we recommend for use in washdown conditions, including:

  • SA Series: Our stainless steel SA Series is rated to NEMA 4X/IP66 and is among our best-selling washdown enclosures. With ultra-tough waterproof and corrosion-resistant construction, a keyed quarter turn latch to prevent unauthorized access and mounting hardware included, it’s an all-in-one enclosure that’s ready to perform.
  • ML Series: For applications that demand the ultimate in protection and component visibility, the ML Series could be just what you need. These polycarbonate enclosures are NEMA 4X, NEMA 6P and IP68-rated, meaning they can stand up to even prolonged submersion. Their durable polycarbonate construction makes them highly corrosion-resistant and suitable for even the toughest environments, and their clear cover option provide unimpeded visibility when you need it.
  • AN Series: These attractive diecast aluminum enclosures offer performance that’s just as good as their looks. A watertight gasket offers great washdown performance rated all the way up to NEMA 6P for the ultimate in liquid ingress protection. Their aluminum construction also provides natural EMI shielding, making the AN Series a great value for facilities that need to protect their devices from harmful electromagnetic interference.

cleaning floor of factory

Finding quality washdown enclosures is easy when you’re working with Polycase. We’ve got over 65 years of experience in creating the perfect enclosure solutions for our customers—and we’re equipped to be your one-stop shop with customized machining and digital printing for your enclosures, as well. To learn more, contact us online or call us at 1-800-248-1233.