What is an IP rating? The letters ‘IP’ stand for International Protection Rating (sometimes also interpreted as Ingress Protection Rating)
The actual IP rating consists of the letters ‘IP’ followed by two digits and an optional letter. As defined in international standard IEC 60529, it classifies the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects:
- accidental contact
- water in electrical enclosures
- Body parts (such as fingers, toes, hands)
The IP rating standard aims to provide users more detailed information than vague marketing terms such as ‘waterproof’
FIRST DIGIT – SOLIDS
The first digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts (e.g., electrical conductors, moving parts) and the ingress of solid foreign objects.
LEVEL EFFECTIVE AGAINST
0. No protection against contact and ingress of objects
- Any large surface of the body, such as the back of the hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part.
- Fingers or similar objects.
- Tools, thick wires, etc.
- Most wires, screws, etc.
- Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment;
- complete protection against contact.
- No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact.
SECOND DIGIT – LIQUIDS
The second digit indicates the level of protection against any liquids
LEVEL EFFECTIVE AGAINST
0. No protection
- Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.
- Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.
- Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect
- Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect
- Water projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
- Water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
- Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).
- The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Normally, this will mean that the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.
Here are some examples of day to day items that have an IP rating:
I Phone 7 – IP67 – this means that the phone is not fully protected for dust ingress but will survive if dropped in water (no deeper than 1m) but is not guaranteed to survive if dropped in a vodka and coke or down the toilet containing bleach.
Bluetooth speaker – This varies from speaker to speaker; if you are looking for a speaker for around the house the IP rating is not hugely important. If you are looking for a speaker in your shower however, you need to make sure you know the difference between splash proof and immersion resistant.
Light fittings – Now this one has a few variables. As you can imagine, a bathroom light needs to be protected against water ingress more than one in a bedroom for instance. And you can’t go ahead and fit an interior light to the outside of your house!
So next time you are shopping remember your IP code