How to Protect Electrical Enclosures in Washdown Environment of Food Industry


The food processing industry has surprisingly harsh conditions for electrical enclosures. Although the manufacturing process may not be particularly harsh in some cases, the washdown environment can potentially expose electrical components to liquids, airborne particles, and corrosive elements such as chlorine or other solvents.

When chlorine bleach and other chemicals are used to maintain a sanitary food processing environment, it puts electrical panels at risk if they are not properly protected. In addition to the risk of corrosion, washdowns are typically done with high-pressure hoses using either water or chemical solutions.

The sanitary environment in the food processing industry also requires the electrical enclosure to meet certain specifications to avoid contamination and minimize risk.

Protecting Electrical Enclosures in the Food Industry

Some of the factors you must consider when selecting electrical enclosures for the food processing industry include:

  • NEMA rating – Most washdown environments require electrical enclosures with a NEMA rating of 4X. This means that the components will be protected from airborne contaminants like dust and dirt, water, and corrosive materials. Using a NEMA-rated 4X electrical enclosure will ensure that both the electrical components and the sanitary work environment are protected with features such as:
    • Legs that provide a certain amount of clearance under the enclosure
    • Sloped surfaces
    • Welded seams and joints
    • Fasteners and latches that are easy to clean
    • No exposed screws or threads in splash zones
  • Closed-loop cooling system – A properly designed electrical enclosure is just the first step in protecting components in a washdown environment. Electrical components must also be cooled to prevent damage or equipment breakdown, and the cooling system must meet all of the same NEMA requirements as the enclosure to ensure adequate protection.A closed-loop air conditioning system that meets NEMA 4X specifications will lower the temperature inside the enclosure without exposing components to the external washdown environment. A cooling system that also uses dependable, no-drip, condensate control will eliminate air conditioner condensate to ensure maximum protection.

If you need help selecting an electrical enclosure for your food processing application, contact the professionals at Thermal Edge. We provide electrical enclosures and associated cooling systems for a broad range of industries, including those with intense washdown environments. We’ll help you determine the appropriate type and size so you can be confident that both your equipment and the surrounding environment will be protected. Contact us today to get your free quote.

What type of washdown environment do you need to have for your business? Check out the MillerCoors case study to learn more about how we can help.