As already noted in the introduction to this guide, you’ll find a very wide variety of wall-mounted enclosure types for sale on the market. Collectively, these versatile and handy wall boxes are designed to cover pretty much any typical usage scenarios you might come across during day-to-day installation needs, whether domestic or industrial.
In this section, we’ll look a little more closely at each of the most common wall-mounted enclosure types you’re likely to find on sale from suppliers, and outline some potential use cases/pros and cons for each kind.
Weatherproof wall boxes
Weatherproof electrical enclosures are very often designed as wall-mounted boxes, intended for housing external or outdoor electrical circuitry, switches and other components.
The term ‘weatherproof’ is somewhat generic, of course - most often it will imply an IP rating, although it’s important to check the manufacturer guidelines to confirm that this is indeed the case (and that the level of IP rating meets your requirements in terms of environmental hazards for the install location).
IP rated electrical enclosures - What are IP Ratings for enclosures?
True IP-rated electrical enclosures will always feature a specified IP (Ingress Protection) number rating, which is an international standard used as a guaranteed measure of the protection offered by a structure against the ingress of foreign bodies and moisture.
IP ratings consist of two digits - for example, IP54, IP66 or IP67 - which together indicate the degree of protection on two progressive scales. The first digit indicates the effectiveness of isolation against intrusive bodies, whereas the second digit indicates protection against several varieties of moisture agents such as light sprays, condensation, or strong directional water jets.
You can read a handy guide to IP ratings and their precise meanings by clicking here.
Vented wall-mounted enclosures
Wall-mount enclosures are often vented - typically with a series of grilles or fluted cut-outs along the sides or in the door panels - to allow for better thermal management of the components and equipment secured inside. Many wall box houses are bought specifically to house components that generate significant amounts of heat, including:
A majority of electrical components that generate significant heat in normal use can also be damaged if temperatures are allowed to climb too high, and the compact nature of wall boxes - one of their great space-saving strengths - can also mean that temperatures climb rapidly if you aren’t using a properly vented enclosure designed for the sorts of components it’s housing.
If not properly controlled and vented, this heat build-up can have a detrimental effect on performance of many electrical components types - particularly where it might trigger safety tripping or emergency shutdown mechanisms - as well as causing damage or leading to greatly decreased life expectancy of equipment and parts.
The solution is to make sure you understand the thermal management requirements of any components you intend to house in a wall-mounted enclosure, and buy the correct sort of wall box for the job. Most vented wall boxes rely on natural convection cooling to lower temperatures inside the enclosure, meaning that heat is naturally transferred out of the box because the ambient temperature of the surrounding air outside is lower than inside.
This is often a suitable solution in any scenario where power draw and heat build-up is sufficiently low - but, in higher-temperature applications, vented wall boxes may need to be combined with mechanical (fan) or closed loop (liquid) cooling systems to achieve the proper operating temperatures for certain types of components.
Make sure you consult the manufacturer or supplier before buying if you’re unsure of your specific cooling requirements and always be aware of any other environmental factors - such as nearby radiators, foundry equipment, high-temperature machinery, or exposure to solar heat - when choosing an installation spot.
Lockable electrical enclosures
The majority of wall boxes on today’s market will tend to offer some form of locking function for added protection and security. There are a great many lockable wall-mounted enclosure types sold by a wide range of manufacturers and suppliers, with popular mechanisms including:
- Single lock wall boxes
- Cam locking enclosures
- Double bar locking wall boxes
- Padlocked wall-mount enclosures
- Quick-release lockable wall boxes
When making a purchase, it’s always important to assess the security requirements of the components and wall-mounting location in question, and use these factors to decide which type of locking system is most appropriate for your needs.