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Traditionally metal enclosures have been used for outdoor use as they were considered sufficiently robust and better able to withstand the elements. But increasingly plastic enclosures are replacing metal ones in the UK as the preferred outdoor enclosure option for electrical or electronics cabinets.

They are now being used in a multitude of outdoor settings, everything from roadside electrical cabinets to electric car charging points.

The main advantages of using a plastic enclosure over a metal enclosure for outdoor electrical use include:

  • Custom plastic electrical enclosures are more cost-effective compared to custom metal enclosures.
  • Plastic enclosures are simpler to install and modify (for example cutting holes in them as needed), plus they often have mounting pillars integrated into them which can make the installation easier.
  • They are also lighter, less bulky making them easier to transport and handle compared to metal ones.
  • Certain types of plastic enclosures can provide protection from ultraviolet (UV), particularly useful for areas with high temperatures.
  • Plastic does not rust or get damaged by moisture in the air and is less likely than metal to react to certain chemicals.
  • Lastly most plastics are electrically insulating (unlike metals which are good conductors) so plastic electrical boxes don’t need to be grounded thus avoiding the extra time and expense involved in grounding an electrical box.
  • Please note that the term “plastic” is a broad ranging one that covers many different materials, including polycarbonates, ABS and HIPS. Plastic has come a long way in recent decades and the use of RFI / ESD / EMC shielding options and UV resistant materials gives more flexibility when delivering a product.

Conversely metal is more fire resistant compared to plastic and also stronger. It would barely be marked by the IK10 test (the maximum specified in EN 62208 2011) – FYI a typical plastic enclosure would pass IK 7 or 8 (which is like hitting it with a big hammer).

Check out our article on the pros and cons of plastic versus metal enclosures for electrical cabinet enclosures.

So, are custom plastic electrical enclosures for outdoor use more effective?

Yes, we think that custom plastic electrical enclosures for outdoor use in the UK are effective most of the time. If you would like more information about any of the points raised in this article please do contact online or call +44 (0)1280 845530.