As an electrician or someone who is knowledgeable about electrical products, you are used to monitoring, replacing, and handling many kinds of products. In this article, we are going to talk about something that does not get a lot of attention: industrial electrical boxes.
You might be asking yourself: What are electrical boxes? To put it simply, electrical boxes are special containers that are designed to hold wire connections and keep them organized within the container. In doing so, we can keep them concealed and stop people (or animals) from tampering with them. They are also useful as an extra layer of protection when a fire accidentally arises.
Another benefit of using electrical boxes, especially when used for every electrical connection within your building, is that repairing electrical problems becomes much easier. Hiding most of the connections within the cavities of the walls makes them more difficult to access, leading to a greater chance of problems down the road.
One of the interesting things about electrical boxes is that they come in different shapes and sizes and might even be made of different materials. Depending on the specific type of electrical box that you choose, it will serve a different purpose.
The first important distinction to make is between outdoor electrical boxes and indoor electrical boxes. The main difference is that outdoor boxes are designed to endure harsh environments caused by the changing weather. The indoor boxes can certainly handle some level of stress but not to the degree that the outdoor boxes can.
Another important distinction to make is the fact that most boxes are either made of metal or plastic. Metal boxes can handle both non-metallic wiring and wiring that uses metal conduit. Plastic boxes, on the other hand, can only handle the latter. Metal boxes are generally considered to be more durable and are most frequently used in industrial applications. You may see the occasional plastic box in your workplace, but they are mostly used in residential homes.
While plastic boxes are cheaper, lighter, and easier to handle, they need to be nailed in correctly to avoid compromising their structural integrity.
There are three main shapes in which you will see electrical boxes: square, round and octagon.
A square box will usually provide the greatest amount of volume for several conductors and connectors at once. You will typically see them installed in walls or ceilings for the purpose of mounting switches. An octagon/round box is usually used for mounting light fixtures within the building.
These boxes cannot be uncovered at any time and are required by OSHA code to be closed with a fitting cover.
Finally, there are two types of installation that take place with industrial electrical boxes: old work and new work. Old work means that you have to directly attach the box to the wall because the wall is covered up in such a way that you cannot go behind it. In this case, it is strongly recommended that you use metal boxes, due to their rigidity. New work means that the framing is still exposed and the wall is not completely closed off. Therefore, you can screw the boxes into the studs’ sides. In this case, metal boxes still come out as the winner.
If you are the one installing these boxes, FIRST TURN ALL THE POWER OFF. Don’t get complacent and assume that you will never come into contact with a hot wire. It’s a great way to accidentally electrocute yourself and ensure a severe injury. Always hire a licensed professional to install your electrical boxes for you if you don’t know anyone who is trained to do so.
Last, but not least, make sure you purchase your boxes from a reliable supplier that tests the boxes for durability and provides you with a good warranty. It is important to get your money’s worth from high-quality products.