Understanding the difference between open and enclosed industrial control panels is key to determining which is the better option for your business. Most companies will give you a choice between the two, and the subtle differences can make choosing a challenge. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between open and enclosed industrial control panels.

What Is an Industrial Control Panel?

The National Electrical Code (NEC) defines an Industrial Control Panel (ICP) as an assembly of two or more control circuit components, power circuit components, or a combination of control and power circuit components. The parts typically consist of the following items:

  • Motor drives
  • Switches
  • Contractors
  • Terminal blocks
  • Overcurrent protective devices
  • Transformers

Regarding UL508A

UL508A is the UL standard for Industrial Control Panels construction. Panel builders follow this set of guidelines to prevent safety issues with proper component selection, wiring methods, and short circuit current rating calculation.

This document ensures regulatory compliance during ICP construction. Overall, it’s a handbook showing technicians how to construct Industrial Control Panels properly. The guidelines contain detailed instructions and steps to apply the component standards.

There’s a level of trust and assurance when you choose a technician or company that’s UL508A certified. You can trust that the team member installs the control panel with the highest safety standards and quality.

Benefits of UL508A Standards

The UL in UL508A stands for Underwriter’s Laboratories. This global organization provides third-party testing to validate and certify tests with standardized inspections and audits. They provide various industries, including electrical, with guidelines and best practices to ensure safety and quality. They’ll also provide education to ensure technicians understand these standards.

When your devices contain the UL mark, you gain instant credibility and trust among other companies. Some individuals will argue that it’s the most credible form of third-party certification. You can trust that a device conforms to the Canadian Electrical Code and the National Electrical Code in the United States and Canada. This benefit builds upon the already-established trust.

Many businesses worry about safety, and adopting the UL guidelines places these companies into an elite club of sorts. The UL certification offers a level of trust that benefits them greatly. With it, you can guarantee another company that your devices and equipment are safe to use. It provides worker safety, repeated business for OEMs, reduced litigation risk following an avoidable disaster, and reduced or non-existent breakdowns or repairs.

You’ll have the edge over the competition that isn’t following these UL standards. You’ll sell efficient, quality, and effective equipment while following high standards and guidelines for your equipment. These regulations will positively impact your customers—watch as client satisfaction rises and your profits increase.

Open Industrial Control Panels

There are several components to an open industrial panel. The most obvious and main difference is additional layers don’t cover the open panels. The elements include the terminals, the wiring, and other parts which mount to the sub-panel.

There is no covering on the open Industrial Control Panels—hence their name. Factors require serious consideration with this control panel type. Verify the mechanical durability and strength of the required enclosure. Confirm the suitability for use and installation in conformity with the NEC guidelines. Don’t disregard the manufacturer’s installation instructions—there may be a specific installation requirement you need to follow. Ensure you’re reviewing and following the manual and that the enclosure doesn’t infringe on the required conductor and wire-bending termination space for a safe installation.

Other factors to consider are the technician’s safety during the installation process or the safety of anyone else who will come in contact with the panel. The enclosure should have the proper testing and validation to ensure it can protect the open board. The separate enclosure should be durable, but it should not interfere with the wiring or create issues with efficiency or functionality.

Enclosed Industrial Control Panels

The simpler control panel of the two, the enclosed panel comes with a built-in enclosure. The other components include the terminals, wiring, and other parts built into the area.

Choosing an enclosed panel means that someone has already tested the panel to check for safety and proper functionality. It’s one less thing the technicians have to worry about. They can trust that the industrial panel they’re installing follows the correct guidelines. Two areas of testing enclosed industrial control panels undergo include their ability to handle shock hazards and electrical fires.

Reasons To Have an Industrial Control Panel

Industrial Control Panels fundamentally protect control, instrumentation, and electrical devices. They distribute power, protect automation electronics, and house pneumatics associated with equipment, processing systems, and machines. Their job is to protect the internal pieces from environmental extremes, such as vibration, moisture, contaminants, and temperature. They also keep staff safe, and safety is a main priority for many businesses.

It’s important to understand that ICPs are more than just boxes with stuff inside. Their design will meet a range of standards, codes, and requirements to ensure the control is operating properly. Any business or industry that relies on or uses automation will greatly benefit from having one. These areas include the following.

  • Solar Panels: The control panel converts the sun’s energy into the energy needed to provide electricity for a town, home, or business. The solar panel collects the sunshine, and the ICP handles the rest.
  • Food Processing: Industrial Control Panels help run all the equipment and machinery in a food processing, packaging, production, or manufacturing plant.
  • Pneumatic/Hydraulic Control Systems: An ICP effectively and efficiently powers any hydraulic or pneumatic control system.
  • Power Generation: Control panels are necessary to generate power and disperse it. Optimal product efficiency will happen with a control panel that works for both functions.
  • Machine Safety: Control panels can shut down machines and systems due to an emergency. They’re incredibly important to have in any workplace that uses large, heavy equipment.

Hiring an Industrial Control Panel Manufacturer

Xpect Solutions are the premier electrical panel manufacturer for ICPs. We’re UL508A certified and will ensure all your parts and pieces are in good condition. We supply the highest quality components for our clients.

We’ll help you decide if an open or enclosed industrial control panel will work better for your business. You’ll find that our expertise and experience will efficiently guide you through the process. Turn to Xpect Solutions for all your Industrial Control Panel needs.

Open vs. Enclosed Industrial Control Panels