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NEMA 12 vs NEMA 4 Enclosures


Hey there! Are you searching for an electrical enclosure but need help in the jungle of ratings and specifications? Trust me, you’re not the only one. Choosing between NEMA 12 and NEMA 4 can feel like deciding between a rock and a hard place. But don’t sweat it! We’re here to help you navigate through the maze. By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly which enclosure suits your needs. Ready? Let’s dive in.

NEMA Enclosures

What's the Big Deal About NEMA Ratings?

So, you might be asking yourself, “Why should I even care about these NEMA ratings?” Fair question. These aren’t just random numbers and letters slapped on a product. They’re your quick guide to understanding what an enclosure can handle. Think of it like clothes shopping: You wouldn’t buy a winter coat for a tropical vacation.

Similarly, knowing the difference between NEMA 12 and NEMA 4 can save you from headaches (and extra costs). These ratings clue you in on dust protection, water resistance, and so much more. Trust me, they’re your best friend when picking out the suitable enclosure.

Breaking Down NEMA 12

Material & Protection

When it comes to NEMA 12, you’re getting an enclosure that’s mainly built for indoor use. These are often made from heavy-duty materials like steel. Why steel? Well, it’s pretty good at protecting against dust, oil, and even splashing water. Don’t throw it in a lake, but you should be okay if someone spills a drink near it.

Common Uses

NEMA 12 is the enclosure you’ll want if you’re indoors but still dealing with some mess. Think factories or industrial spots. It can handle dirt and some water drips but won’t survive a flood. So if your workspace is more ‘dusty corner’ than ‘rainforest,’ NEMA 12 is for you.

Breaking Down NEMA 4

Material & Protection

NEMA 4 is the tough guy, your all-weather friend. Made from either metal or fiberglass, it’s built to last. It can handle rain, snow, and even hose-downs, perfect for both inside and outside. Plus, it keeps out dust.

Common Uses

You’ll see NEMA 4, where things get rough. Construction sites, outdoor factories, or even harsh indoor areas. Why? It can deal with the tough stuff like bad weather and heavy cleaning. So, if you’re out in the open or need to hose down gear, NEMA 4 has you covered.

NEMA 12 vs NEMA 4: Key Differences

It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. You’ve heard about NEMA 12 and NEMA 4 individually, but how do they square off against each other? Let’s dive in.

Protection against Solids

NEMA 12 and NEMA 4 offer excellent protection against dust and solid particles. However, if we’re talking about a more challenging environment with airborne debris and particulates, NEMA 4 takes the cake. It’s sealed tight, so nothing’s getting in. NEMA 12 is good, but NEMA 4 is the one you want when the going gets tough.

Protection against Liquids

When it comes to liquids, the two enclosures diverge. NEMA 12 is solid for resisting drips and splashes. Great for a factory setting where you might have some oils and coolants but only a little water. NEMA 4, on the other hand, is like your enclosure’s raincoat and wetsuit combined. It can handle rain, snow, and even high-pressure water jets. If you’re outdoors or need to power wash your enclosure, NEMA 4 is your buddy.

Cost & Availability

Alright, let’s talk money and where to find these bad boys. NEMA 12 enclosures are generally more accessible on the Wallet and widely available. They’re the everyday heroes of enclosures. NEMA 4, with all its bells and whistles, tends to be pricier. You’re paying for that extra layer of protection. Availability might be less widespread because it’s a specialized item, but it’s worth the hunt for those extra-tough jobs.

Pros and Cons

Hey, no one’s perfect, right? Even these enclosures have their ups and downs. Let’s break it down to see which one might be your enclosure soulmate.


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Affordable and Accessible: The price point is the first thing you’ll love about NEMA 12. It’s budget-friendly and widely available, making it a go-to for many folks.

Solid Basic Protection protects against dust and non-corrosive liquids like oils and coolants. It is ideal for many indoor industrial settings.


Not for Harsh Conditions: If you’re facing extreme weather or very wet conditions, NEMA 12 might not cut it. It’s good but not invincible.

Limited Versatility: It’s mainly designed for indoor use. This may not be for you if you’ve got outdoor needs.



Tough as Nails: This one’s made to withstand a lot. Rain, snow, sleet, high-pressure water jets—you name it, NEMA 4 can handle it.

Indoor/Outdoor Flexibility: Unlike NEMA 12, this enclosure is versatile enough for indoor and outdoor applications. It gives you more options for where you can place it.


Heavier on the Wallet: With great power comes a more significant price tag. If you’re on a tight budget, NEMA 4 might make you wince.

Potential Overkill: If your setup doesn’t require hardcore protection, you might be paying for features you don’t need.

And there you have it! NEMA 12 is your dependable, everyday option for less demanding environments, while NEMA 4 is the rugged protector you’ll want for more challenging conditions. Take your pick!

car wash

How to Choose the Right One

Alright, you’ve gotten the lowdown on NEMA 12 and NEMA 4. How do you decide which is the best fit for you? Well, it boils down to a couple of critical factors.

Consider Your Environment

Indoor vs. Outdoor: If you’re sticking to the great indoors, NEMA 12 is usually a solid choice. It’s got what you need for most controlled environments. But if you’re looking to shop outside or in an area exposed to more extreme conditions, NEMA 4 is your go-to.

Weather Conditions: If your area faces heavy rain, snow, or even just a lot of moisture in the air, NEMA 4 is designed to withstand those elements. On the other hand, NEMA 12 will only hold up well when things get wet and wild.

What You're Storing

Sensitive Equipment: Got some pricey or sensitive equipment? NEMA 4 offers a beefier line of defense against dust and liquids. It’s like the fortress of electrical enclosures.

General Use: If you’re looking to store standard electrical components that don’t require the Fort Knox treatment, NEMA 12 should do just fine. It offers protection against dust, falling dirt, and dripping non-corrosive liquids.

Conclusion & Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Whether you go for NEMA 12 or NEMA 4, each has its perks and limitations. Your choice should be informed by your environment’s specific needs and what you plan to store inside that enclosure.

Eabel Electrical Enclosures 9


NEMA 12 is your indoor buddy, great for controlled environments and less sensitive equipment. NEMA 4 is like the Swiss Army knife of enclosures, ready for both indoor and outdoor action and built to handle stricter conditions like rain and dust. Before you open that Wallet, think about your specific needs. Ask yourself: Where will it be located? What’s going on it? How extreme will the conditions be? The answers to these questions will guide you in making the best choice.

Eabel is always happy to help our customers find the right enclosures for them. Please call us at +86 18860978683 or contact us online for more information.

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