Combating condensation in enclosure installations

The recipe for condensation is simple: water vapour and fluctuating temperatures. In all but the most controlled of environments this means that electrical installations are at risk of water damage caused by condensation forming inside an enclosure. Of course, with proper planning and design it's possible to protect your connections, as Chris Lloyd, Managing Director of Spelsberg UK, explains.

Firstly, it's important to understand why condensation occurs and which types of electrical installation are most at risk. As we know, condensation describes the changing physical state of water from gas into liquid - typically caused by the gas coming into contact with a colder surface. So, condensation is a risk in any environment where water vapour will be found in the air and where temperature fluctuations occur.

While the water vapour content of air will vary from place to place depending on air pressure and temperature, it will be present in all but the most tightly controlled of environments. For example, when at sea level a volume of air measuring 30degC can contain up to 4 per cent water vapour. As for temperature fluctuations, every electrical application generates heat and air temperatures naturally rise and fall throughout the day.

Despite understanding the simple premise of what causes condensation, many designers and installers are guilty of overlooking the issue when working on a new installation, often incorrectly thinking that the IP-rated enclosures they are working with will provide protection. IP ratings measure the ability of an enclosure to protect against ingress from solid particles and moisture (liquid rather than gas). Even an IP69 enclosure is not completely airtight, so will not protect against water vapour.

Once the installation is made and the enclosure is sealed, the temperature differential between the air in the room and in the enclosure will lead to pressure changes, which in turn will draw moisture-rich air into the enclosure. Once inside, if the air contacts with the cooler enclosure walls condensation will occur and pool around the bottom of the enclosure. Ironically, this is a bigger problem for enclosures with a high IP rating, as it's less likely that the water will escape the enclosure before causing harm to the electrics.

This isn't to say that it's impossible to combat against condensation. In fact, with some basic planning during design, and by following a few simple rules during installation, there is no reason why condensation should impact on the integrity of your installation.

Extra space for air flow

Enclosure specification is the first thing to consider, and will play a vital role in protecting your installation. Firstly, only specify an enclosure to the IP rating that is needed for the applications. Not only will you reduce installation time and save money, but, as explained above, this will reduce the risk of condensation build-up inside the enclosure. Enclosure dimensions should also be considered. While many designers may feel that tight packaging and a smaller footprint is the best option, it may be appropriate to design in extra space to allow for air flow.

It is possible to further design against condensation by adding ventilation. Most enclosure suppliers should be able to work with you during design to offer customisation to include air vents in an appropriate position on the enclosure. Spelsberg has taken enclosures ventilation one step further with the AK Air range, which features an integrated ventilation system. The valves are designed into the enclosure walls to provide pressure and temperature regulation while still delivering IP65 protection - protecting against water spray from all directions.

Of course, even the best enclosures can only provide so much protection, so it's the job of good engineers to take simple measures during installation to further alleviate potential problems, for example:

  • Position enclosures away from direct sunlight, heat sources, etc.
  • Avoid locations where there are likely to be temperature fluctuations, such as in kitchens or near furnaces, if possible.
  • Steer clear of damp areas, waterside locations and places where steam or water splashes are possible.
  • Ensure there is enough space around the enclosure for air circulation.
  • If an enclosure is to be wall-mounted, it may be appropriate to provide an airspace or heat sink between the wall and enclosure.

Despite the ever-present risk of condensation, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to protect your connections from damage. Our expert engineers are often asked to examine instances where an installation has been damaged due to condensation build-up and it's always easy to see how it occurred and offer a solution to combat it. I would always recommend working with an enclosure supplier who is able to offer engineering support and customisation capabilities to make sure that protection is designed into your enclosure from the start.

For more information about enclosures from Spelsberg, please visit www.spelsberg.co.uk.

Spelsberg Els UK Ltd

Unit 1B Queensway Business Park
Hadley Park West
TELFORD
TF1 6AL
UNITED KINGDOM

+44 (0)1952 605849

sales@spelsberg.co.uk

www.spelsberg.co.uk

More from Spelsberg Els UK Ltd

On the charge!

Posted 1 week ago

Switching into LV switchgear enclosure mode

Posted 2 weeks ago

Fast prototypes for industrial enclosures

Posted 3 weeks ago

The path to faster development of industrial enclosures

Posted 1 month ago

New configurator has it figured out

Posted 2 months ago

Protection reaches a critical junction

Posted 3 months ago

EVs – a highly charged topic

Posted 4 months ago

Industrial enclosures – more than just the box

Posted 4 months ago

Developments in charging technology

Posted 6 months ago

Mini size junction boxes now available

Posted 6 months ago

New fire-resistant enclosure maintains electrical system safety

Posted 8 months ago

Enclosure customisation is key for fire safety control unit

Posted 8 months ago

Enclosures for outdoor electrical installations

Posted 11 months ago

Hand sanitiser dispenser manufacturer demands rugged enclosures

Posted 1 year ago

Customised enclosures for extreme and challenging environments

Posted 1 year ago

Spelsberg UK working hard to maintain UK stocks

Posted 1 year ago

Take a virtual tour of Spelsberg's electrical enclosures

Posted 1 year ago

Spelsberg GRP enclosure installed in UK's deepest mine

Posted 1 year ago

Movie of the month

Posted 1 year ago

Quick delivery on printing and labelling of enclosures

Posted 1 year ago

How to specify enclosures for environmental management systems

Posted 1 year ago

Spelsberg helps UK machine builders to beat Brexit uncertainty

Posted 1 year ago

Fast turnaround on customised enclosures

Posted 1 year ago

GEOS enclosures are suitably rugged for coastal applications

Posted 1 year ago

Extensive stocks of Spelsberg enclosures held in the UK

Posted 2 years ago

Overnight customised enclosures thanks to in-house machining

Posted 2 years ago

Video shows the extreme tests endured by Spelsberg enclosures

Posted 2 years ago

Praise for Spelsberg UK's Pro-Active technical telesales service

Posted 2 years ago

Spelsberg customised enclosures feature in educational rig

Posted 2 years ago

Movie of the month

Posted 2 years ago

Spelsberg enclosures speed fast-food kitchen fit-outs

Posted 2 years ago

GEOS enclosures provide protection in aggressive environments

Posted 2 years ago

Enclosures ensures lift passengers can make emergency calls

Posted 2 years ago

Drives and Controls celebrate 18 years of Spelsberg distribution

Posted 3 years ago

Spelsberg and CED offer top-class junction boxes to wholesalers

Posted 3 years ago

Spelsberg UK turns 20: learning from the past, moving forward

Posted 3 years ago

Spelsberg aids efficiency in offsite heat exchange builds

Posted 3 years ago

Where to position electrical enclosures

Posted 3 years ago

John Clarke is new Spelsberg Area Sales Manager for West region

Posted 3 years ago

Free expert advice from enclosureanswers.com

Posted 3 years ago

Distribution board helps keep divers' pressure stable

Posted 3 years ago

Next-day custom enclosure samples keep projects on schedule

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg custom enclosures in dairy farming applications

Posted 4 years ago

Tough enclosures bring safety and endurance to road tankers

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg shows its true colours for superior customer service

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg appoints Chris Smith as South West Area Sales Manager

Posted 4 years ago

Ultraviolet considerations when specifying an enclosure

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg fit and forget thermostat keeps frost and snow at bay

Posted 4 years ago

Bespoke cabling systems company grows with Spelsberg enclosures

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg aluminium enclosures expected to prove a hit

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg offers farmers world-class electrical enclosures

Posted 4 years ago

WAGO uses Spelsberg enclosures for new pre-mounted products

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg laboratory approved for in-house UL certification

Posted 4 years ago

Spelsberg offers upgrade to classic Abox design

Posted 4 years ago

Enclosures speed rewiring of automated manufacturing systems

Posted 4 years ago

GRP: the best of both worlds for trackside enclosures?

Posted 5 years ago

Commercial salad growers box clever with Spelsberg

Posted 5 years ago

Modular distribution enclosures improve "˜Smart Building'

Posted 5 years ago

Managing heat in electrical enclosures

Posted 5 years ago

Spelsberg slashes lead times on custom orders

Posted 5 years ago

Customised standard enclosures are quick and cost-effective

Posted 5 years ago

Spelsberg UK plans for growth in 2016 to support market demands

Posted 5 years ago

Spelsberg Pro-Active simplifies ordering for reduced lead times

Posted 5 years ago

Stealth enclosures for covert operations

Posted 5 years ago

Quickly find the right enclosure with new Spelsberg UK website

Posted 5 years ago

High-quality GRP heavy duty enclosures from Spelsberg

Posted 5 years ago

Spelsberg launches steel enclosure range

Posted 5 years ago

Ready-made enclosures for water treatment industry

Posted 5 years ago

1000+ bespoke enclosures moulded and assembled in 4 weeks

Posted 5 years ago

A-Z of electrical enclosures

Posted 6 years ago

Integrated ventilation with Spelsberg's AK Air enclosures

Posted 6 years ago

Trace heating thermostats keep water treatment plants running

Posted 6 years ago

Innovative electrical enclosures for new aircraft carriers

Posted 6 years ago

How to select the best material for an electrical enclosure

Posted 6 years ago

The questions to ask when specifying an electrical enclosure

Posted 6 years ago

Spelsberg expands current TK enclosure range

Posted 6 years ago

Metal vs. plastic: specification of large outdoor enclosures

Posted 6 years ago

Rapid-Box: bespoke fire-resistant junction box

Posted 6 years ago

Specialised coatings improve enclosure performance

Posted 6 years ago

Spelsberg claims largest selection of non-metallic enclosures

Posted 7 years ago

Spelsberg WKE enclosures used for emergency systems

Posted 7 years ago

Bespoke moulding service speeds up repeat orders from Spelsberg

Posted 7 years ago

Customised enclosures help prevent freezing pipes

Posted 7 years ago

Service over supply from Spelsberg

Posted 7 years ago

Spelsberg appoints David Mills as Area Sales Manager for NW

Posted 7 years ago

Chris Lloyd confirmed as Spelsberg UK MD

Posted 7 years ago

Abox Magic GT gel provides IP68 ratings to 15 metres

Posted 7 years ago

How to select correct IP ratings for electrical enclosures

Posted 7 years ago

An introduction to electrical enclosure specification

Posted 7 years ago

Customised enclosures reduce costs and improve quality

Posted 7 years ago

Flexibility and reliability for airflow control unit enclosures

Posted 8 years ago

Spelsberg reduces lead times with new UK headquarters

Posted 8 years ago

Composite junction boxes for aircraft carrier lighting systems

Posted 8 years ago

Composite junction boxes used on RN aircraft carriers

Posted 8 years ago

Understanding ingress protection in electrical enclosures

Posted 8 years ago

Spelsberg will improve lead times on customised products

Posted 8 years ago

Non-metallic enclosures: the future for trackside installation

Posted 8 years ago

Revamped GTi range speeds up switchgear installation

Posted 8 years ago

Spelsberg UK sales team is strengthened with new appointments

Posted 8 years ago

Spelsberg launches its 'Space for you' campaign

Posted 8 years ago

New B-Box from Spelsberg offers quick, waterproof installation

Posted 8 years ago

Which is the best material for your application's enclosure?

Posted 9 years ago

Waterproof gel-filled enclosures are reusable

Posted 13 years ago

Non-metallic enclosures cope with harsh outdoor environments

Posted 13 years ago

Rugged Norma PC and ABS enclosures are sealed to IP65

Posted 13 years ago

IP66 enclosures selected for water shut-off valve controls

Posted 13 years ago

Custom junction box moulded in high-grade black plastic

Posted 13 years ago

Spelsberg products available through Farnell

Posted 14 years ago

Modular enclosures maintain IP65 protection

Posted 14 years ago

Rugged enclosures are suitable for fire engine applications

Posted 14 years ago

TK enclosures are tough enough for classrooms

Posted 14 years ago

More technical articles