Video: Testing Project Enclosures Under Extreme Conditions (Read: Fire, Water, and Smashing)

My projects tend to live rough lives. To make it easier to safely house their delicate parts in the future, … Continued

My projects tend to live rough lives. To make it easier to safely house their delicate parts in the future, I devised a torture test to determine which project enclosures best stand up to extreme conditions—and to my abuse.

I built a simple circuit and placed it inside a plastic project enclosure, a PVC electrical junction box, and a Pelican case. Then I subjected all three to torture by water, impact and fire.

Check out the gallery below to see the results of our tests:

Click here to see how the different enclosures stand up under extreme stress.

Conclusions: Plastic enclosures are good mainly for safe, indoor projects. Pelican cases keep out water but, surprisingly, fail the smash test. PVC junction boxes are the darkhorse winner; they’re very cheap and rugged. Use one the next time you build something you plan to drop, drown, or set ablaze.

The Tests:

For the water test, we submerged the enclosure under three feet of water for one minute. We then dropped the enclosures from a forklift to test how the impact of a 30-foot fall would affect them. Finally, for the fire test, we blasted each enclosure with spurts of propane flames for about a minute.

Check out a video of these tests (as well as some freeform torture of the enclosures) below:

Standard Plastic Enclosure: Before

Standard Plastic Enclosure: Water Test


Standard Plastic Enclosure: Impact Test


Standard Plastic Enclosure: Fire Test


PVC Electrical Junction Box: Before

PVC Electrical Junction Box: Water Test

Dry, but unclear how much more the lid gasket could be opened and closed.

PVC Electrical Junction Box: Impact Test

Chipped on the corners of the lid, but largely intact.

PVC Electrical Junction Box: Fire Test

No serious damage.

Pelican Case: Before

Pelican Case: Water Test

Dry, and probably reclosable many times with the lid gasket intact.

Pelican Case: Impact Test

Hinges and latches smashed off.

Pelican Case: Fire Test

No serious damage.