What is an Industrial Electrical Cabinet?

Every home, commercial building, or industrial facility with electrical service has an electrical cabinet. Industrial electrical cabinets are different in multiple and significant aspects from those found in your home.

The National Electric Code defines an industrial electrical control cabinet as an “enclosure or open cabinet containing two or more power circuit components, control circuit components, or a combination of the two.”

Most industrial electrical cabinets fall into one of two basic categories:

  • Power Circuits (provide power to grids, lighting, and/or specific equipment)
  • Control Circuits (provide control of electrically-operated equipment, such as motor-driven equipment)

    (Some circuits can serve both functions.)

Photo courtesy of MTA C&D – East Side Access

Photo courtesy of MTA C&D – East Side Access

What is the basic operation of an industrial electrical cabinet?

In general terms, industrial electrical cabinets receive power from a power source and distribute it to specific areas or equipment. They also play an important role in electrical safety, regulating power with built-in circuit breakers, fuses, and/or other oversight equipment. In the event of an electrical overload situation, the cabinets either mechanically, or through pre-programmed technology, stop the overload from damaging equipment or causing a fire.

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While electrical cabinets are designed and engineered to prevent the occurrence of fires, they still can and will occur. Different from most traditional residential and commercial fires, the danger and complexity of industrial electrical cabinet fires requires special tactics and equipment. Fixed fire suppression systems are uniquely designed to utilize systems rather than people to extinguish industrial electrical cabinet fires.

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