What does NEMA stand for?

When discussing manufacturing, construction, and other related industries, the acronym NEMA stands for National Electrical Manufacturer Association. They were initially founded in 1926 when the Associated Manufacturers of Electrical Supplies and the Electrical Powers Club merged. They began monitoring the quality and safety of various electrical products, and also created a process to help ensure there was compatibility between devices.

This association is responsible for developing the NEMA rating system, which is used to identify a given enclosure’s ability to remain intact in various potential environmental conditions. This is also known as the International Protection Rating, or IP Code.

Common NEMA Ratings

There are many ratings that the NEMA puts out, each of which will apply to different situations. A given facility needs to be familiar with the relevant ratings that will impact the way that they do business. The following are a few of the most common NEMA ratings to provide examples of what they do:

  • NEMA 1 – This rating is for indoor enclosures and focuses on how well they protect against contaminants such as dust and other types of airborne issues.
  • NEMA 2 – This one is used to indicate the level of protection an enclosure has against liquid exposure. It is also intended for use on indoor enclosures.
  • NEMA 3 – Any cabinets or enclosures that are designed to limit access to dangerous areas will fall under this rating. This one is used for both indoor and outdoor enclosures.

There can be other indicators to go along with the NEMA rating numbers. For example, something that is NEMA-4X will be watertight and dust tight, but also corrosion resistant in both indoor and outdoor environments.

NEMA develops standards that are used in just about every industry today. This includes general construction environments, data center management, commercial buildings, automotive, and many others. While the specific ways these ratings are used and implement may vary, all facilities should be aware of them and always use properly rated enclosures for a given situation.


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