The Role of Utility Cabinets in Electrical Component Protection

Utility cabinets are one of the often forgotten components when it comes to electrical systems, with technicians generally focusing on the importance of internal components and omitting the external protective and structural mechanisms. The external support that utility cabinets provide however, is imperative regarding the efficient and safe operation of the entire electrical system.

A utility cabinet is usually defined as a protective casing that encloses electrical equipment, however also provides authorized personal with access to components. These cabinets are utilized in order to protect personnel from hazardous situations, and to guard the housed components against unwanted environmental factors, or other possible threats.

Utility cabinets can be found in various situations regarding housing and protecting electrical components. These situations can range from industrial utilization in mining or data and commutation facilities, to residential and commercial use in cases such as meter boxes. Using these cabinets however, has many obvious, as well as many less apparent advantages, depending upon the intended utilization and the design of the cabinet.

The Advantages of Utility Cabinets Usage in Various Situations: Electrical Component Protection

In the mining industry the protective role of externally located utility cabinets regarding component shielding is highly valued. The housed equipment can be protected from dust, which is an obvious threat in most mining environments. Dust is also a well known cause of short circuits and general power outages, when certain components such as circuit breakers are constantly exposed to it. Mining electrical systems can also be shielded from the sun using specially designed utility cabinets. In mining areas such as the Australian outback, the intense heat can damage equipment and cause less than efficient operation.

A less obvious advantage reported by the mining industry however, is the increased visibility of electrical components housed in specially designed ‘high visibility’ cabinets. This consequently reduces the probability of an accident involving unintentional contact with electrical components, resulting in potential harm to both personnel and the electrical system. Another less noticeable benefit regarding the utilization of externally located cabinets is the ability to reduce electrical component corrosion, especially in coastal areas. Many companies offer specially designed cabinets, which protect housed components in such areas without the constant need for maintenance and repairs.

Benefits gained from using cabinets inside facilities in comparison, generally stem from the ability to construct custom cabinets to fit particular requirements. Within data centers these cabinets are specially designed to allow for access to electricity at certain points, or even installed with fans or other cooling devices. Cabinets for switch gear power systems are much the same, being individually designed so that equipment is spaced within a cabinet to fit individual facilities’ needs.

It can therefore be noted that there are numerous benefits regarding the internal and external use of these cabinets in many different industries and for many different functions. Although the technology concerning this equipment has come a long way over the last few decades, there are still numerous improvements that need to be made regarding the containment of electrical events such as arching faults.