Originally Posted by hot_carl
I recently decided to move to electric brewing from propane and in looking over many builds, I see alot of people using steel enclosures for their panels. The steel enclosures seem heavier, more expensive, and harder to cut holes in than the ABS and fiberglass type (which I just picked up from BUD industries). Is there any reason why the nonmetallic type arent more prevalent? They carry the same NEMA specifications regarding water/dust ingress and are more than strong enough for our use...they also seem safer in the very unlikely event that a hot lead comes into contact with the enclosure since they wont carry current (Well, I guess that would trip the breaker since the case is grounded...so that makes the safety thing a moot point, but still). There seem to be lots of issues around cutting holes, most all of which are much easier to deal with in a softer medium like ABS. Am I making a mistake by using one of these enclosures, or just not following the norm?
I was running along the same line of thought as you are until my ABS panel cracked after 10 months of light use. I used Bud Industries enclosure Hb 32026 16x12x6.3" made of ABS plastic. I paid about $80 including backplate and shipping. I could have bought steel enclosure for about the same amount of money...
It was easy to cut holes in and was very light to handle, hang on a wall etc. One day I noticed a hairline crack below my RIMS PID - I guess that is the worst stress point on the entire front panel. That crack quickly extended towards a switch below PID.
My plan was to upgrade this panel to 240V and add a second PID for electric BK.
Well, now I am looking into buying a metal enclosure because if my 240v enclosure cracks and causes house fire I will not be happy
Neither my home insurance...
Another point against plastic panels (at least made by Bud Ind.) is that any screws that you are supposed to drive into its plastic body (for wall hangers, back plate attachment etc) will only do it once i.e. go one way. If you attempt to unscrew and re-set those screws you will be weakening (or cracking) the panel around the fastener.