How to Ensure Your Electrical Cabinet Cooling System Meets Safety Requirements


It’s important that your electrical cabinet cooling system complies with relevant safety standards. Units purchased for use in the USA should comply with UL and NFPA standards and those for other regions and countries with appropriate national standards.

Additionally, US employers are required to comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act that requires them to keep the workplace free of serious hazards. Compliance will ensure your cabinet cooling systems meet local safety requirements.

UL 484

The UL 484 standard covers the design and manufacture of room air conditioners, including special purpose air conditioners designed for enclosure cooling. All such units sold for use in the USA must comply with this standard. The method of ensuring compliance is for the importer or manufacturer to arrange for a Nationally Recognized Test Laboratory (NRTL) to certify that the product complies with UL 484. The certification process includes an initial inspection of the manufacturing process, verification of the quality control system, and regular quarterly reviews.

NFPA 70 National Electrical Code

This advisory code covers the installation of electrical equipment on public and private property. Although the code in itself is not mandatory, it represents good practice that complies with the requirements of OSHA federal regulations and, in the event of an investigation, employers can be cited for noncompliance with this code, which is designed to protect people and property from hazards that may arise from the use of electrical equipment.

NEMA Enclosure Standards

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association standard defines the level of protection an enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts, ingress of dirt and dust, and resistance to water. The cabinet cooling system should meet or exceed the NEMA rating of the electrical enclosure to which it is fitted. For practical purposes, a NEMA 12 rating provides protection against access to hazardous parts and dust ingress. When protection against water entry is required, a NEMA 4 enclosure should be used, and if corrosive substances are present, a NEMA 4X enclosure.

Hazardous Locations

A hazardous location is one where an explosion or fire hazard might exist due to the presence of flammable vapors, gases, liquids, or substances. Locations are graded according to the severity of the risk as detailed in the National Electrical Code. There are strict limitations where electrical equipment may be installed in hazardous areas and such equipment must comply with appropriate safety requirements. It’s essential your cabinet cooling system conforms to the applicable regulations.

Canadian and European Standards

Although American, Canadian, and European standards have much in common, there are differences and a cabinet cooling system for installation in these regions must comply with the relevant Canadian or European electrical and air conditioning codes. The Canadian codes are as follows:

  • CAN/CSA-22.1: Canadian Electrical Code, Part 1
  • CSA-C22.2 No. 236-M90: Heating and Cooling Equipment
  • CSA-C22.2 No. 117: Special Purpose Room Air Conditioners

In Europe the codes include:

  • EN 60204-1: Electrical Equipment of Machinery
  • EN 378, 1-4: Refrigeration Systems and Heat Pumps
  • EN 60529, IP: Enclosure Protection
  • EN 61000, Various: Electromagnetic Compatibility, Emissions, And Immunity

Many other countries have their own standards or have adopted international standards so it’s important to be sure the relevant standards are applied.

Think Before You Buy

The safety requirements that are applicable to electrical enclosures protect users from the risk of serious injury arising from the failure of electrical components due to power surges, overheating, or equipment failure. A cabinet cooling system must comply with the same overall requirements, especially as panel overheating is a major source of electrical failures. Make sure you specify that your cabinet cooling system vendor complies with these requirements.