Industrial plants and machines often have complex power distribution systems, and the reason why is simple: Machine builders and engineers typically use multiple enclosures when combining low-voltage wiring devices with control.
The truth is, however, that you can safely mix low-voltage power and low-voltage control and communication devices in one enclosure as long as you follow good design practices.
- Select The Correct Wire Insulation Rating. First, make sure all the wiring insulation in the enclosure corresponds to highest voltage device, i.e. 600VAC. For example, if you want to pack a low-voltage data port and 480V motor disconnect switch into the same enclosure, go ahead. Just make sure that data port cables have the same insulation rating as the voltage of the motor disconnect switch conductors. Keep in mind that you can buy shielded Cat 6 cable rated up to 600V, so getting the wiring right in this type of mixed installation isn't a big deal with a bit of planning.
- Pick the Right Enclosure. If you want to use a single enclosure for mixed-voltage components, you'll want to look at modular power distribution systems. These will let you freely customize the enclosure for your application. With our AMAXX system, for instance, you can easily pack a 480V receptacle, a 250V motor disconnect switch, a data port and a 120V convenience receptacle into a single modular enclosure. Normally, that many wiring devices would require two or even three separate enclosures.
Mixing different low voltages within a single enclosure may sound like a big step if you're used to traditional wiring. But done right, the payoff from consolidating enclosures can be huge. Total wiring costs-including materials and labor- can drop by 20 percent or more once you start reducing the number of electrical enclosures on typical installations.
You can learn more about modular power distribution systems here.