Material Selection Guide

Material Selection Guide

Material Selection Guide

Things to consider when selecting the right material

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Enclosure Materials

B&R Enclosures supply a wide range of enclosures in different enclosure materials. There are various reasons why you would choose one material over another and a brief summary is provided below.
Please note that specific site conditions can significantly influence the choice of enclosure materials. The best way to select the right material is to look at the performance of similar materials on site. As such the following are general guidelines only.


Steel can be used for applications where there is little chance of corrosion or in locations where the enclosure will become scratched or damaged. Steel enclosures are strong and robust, but steel can be susceptible to corrosion from the environment once the powdercoated surface is damaged.


Powdercoated aluminium can be considered as the next step up for resistance to corrosion. It is substantially better as resistance to salt water, although in many cases should not be used for applications where strong alkalis might be present.

Aluminium is a great choice for applications in remote locations due to this higher corrosion resistance and its lighter weight which enables it to be manually installed rather than machine lifted in many applications.

Stainless Steel

B&R manufacture a range of enclosures from 316 grade stainless and offers excellent resistance to salt water and other forms of environmental corrosion. These tend to outlast enclosures in any other materials. The use of 316 stainless steel is also aesthetically pleasing.

B&R use a special N4 surface finish that helps minimise corrosion and provides a great ‘brushed metal’ look.


Used for enclosures with few requirements and for resistance to corrosion that would be problematic for metal enclosures. Plastic enclosures are a versatile choice. The disadvantage is that they are not as strong as metal enclosures and cannot be built to anywhere near all the sizes required for industry. They can also be susceptible to damage from the sun.

More Detail on Material Options

Indoor location with no gas, chemical contaminants or fine dust present.
Generally any enclosure material would be suitable –– an enclosure choice would be based more on the type of equipment going inside and the IP rating (protection from dust and water ingress) rather than the material used. Base on cost, the most appropriate material would
be plastic or zinc coated steel.

Indoor location with gas, chemical contaminants or fine dust.
If the location is exposed to gas or other chemical contaminants 316 stainless steel is generally suitable however, chemicals can react differently to various materials. If the enclosure is exposed to fine dust 316 stainless steel would be the most suitable option to avoid possible corrosion.

If the area is classified as hazardous (potentially explosive atmosphere) an explosion-proof or increased safety enclosure may be required. These are typically made from high grade stainless steel but you will need to ensure the enclosure is certified for hazardous areas.

Outdoor location with no gas, chemical contaminants or fine dust.
An aluminium or zinc coated steel enclosure could be suitable. Plastic enclosures can also be used in an outdoor environment, although there is often a discolouration of the plastic due to UV exposure however, this will not affect the structural integrity of the enclosure.

Outdoor location with high salt deposition (non-coastal).
These areas are typically related to mining regions. These areas are subject to a high risk of corrosion which can dramatically affect mild steel and even lower grade stainless enclosures. A 316 stainless steel enclosure would be recommended for these areas.

Coastal Location with high salt deposition.
The use of metal enclosures along the Australian coast is common and often incorrect materials are selected on price and fail due to corrosion. Typically the corrosion is caused by chloride attack from salt water. This can dramatically affect mild steel and even lower grade
stainless steel enclosures.

316 stainless steel is the best and most suitable for coastal areas, but this will be dependent on the salt deposition of a particular area.

AS2699.1 specifies that stainless steel should be used for structured areas where there is salt deposition of over 60mg/m2/day. Stainless steel enclosures should be mounted in positions to maximise the washdown effect of rain. If this cannot be achieved regular cleaning is required.

Aluminium also offers a high degree of corrosion resistance but does not offer the same level of protection from tea-staining as stainless steel.

Material Selection Guide

Material Selection Guide

This brochure is a guide to assist when choosing the best material for an electrical enclosure. Download

Tea Staining on Stainless Steel Report

Tea Staining on Stainless Steel Products

Tea staining of stainless steels is a phenomenon that occurs where water with a significant chloride content is in regular contact with the metal surface. Download