When installing lights in your garden, warehouse, and even kitchen, you want to know how waterproof your lighting is. Because this ensures that you can install and use your lighting fixtures safely in a specific area. The IP Rating (or “Ingress Protection”) tells you just that. It is the measure of how much the electrical is sealed and protected from the intrusion of liquid, but also solids like dust and dirt.
The Ingress Protection or IP Rating is an important consideration during the selection of LED lighting products for any projects. It reflects the suitability of the light fitting to specific environmental conditions in indoor and outdoor installations. The specifications for light fixtures often include a value for IP, but what IP grade you should choose? Or what IP level is the most suitable for your applications? This article will give you a complete guide of it.
What is IP Rating (or Ingress Protection)?
The IP Code (or International Protection Rating, sometimes also interpreted as Ingress Protection 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 (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures. The standard aims to provide users more detailed information than vague marketing terms such as waterproof.
*Explanation of the letters IP is given in IEC 60529 (Ed. 2.1), clause 4.1
The first digit refers to the level of protection a scale or indicator enclosure against access to hazardous parts (e.g., dust particles, electrical conductors, moving parts) and the ingress of solid foreign objects, while the second digit defines the level of protection against liquids. The larger each digit is, the greater the protection.
First Digit: Protection against solids
|Object size protected against
|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: Protection against liquids
|Object size protected against
|Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.
|Dripping water when tilted up to 15°
|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.
|Powerful water jets
|Water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
|Immersion up to 1m
|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).
|Immersion beyond 1m
|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.
What IP Rating Will You Need?
If you don’t anticipate a harsh environment that is extremely dusty or wet then a lower IP rating would suffice.
In places that will have a lot of dust, debris, or potential to be in contact with any solids or liquids, you’ll want to make sure that the IP ratings are high and that you have adequate water resistant or waterproof coatings on your LED lights.
Following are the most popular IP ratings for some of the fixtures, such as flood lights, tri-proof lights, street lights, and their meanings:
IP20 or IP40 for indoor applications:
This is for lights that are designed to go in an enclosed fixture. An IP20 or IP40 light should never be outdoors unless the fixture is sealed. It is usually fine indoors unless it’s an area of high humidity or other harsh conditions. A lot of LED Lights, LED track lights, LED Linear and other fixtures fall in this category. They are a great option for indoor use in basic environments.
IP54 Dustproof Rating:
LED lights with IP54 give complete dust protection. Whereas, for liquids, it gives protection against splashing water only. This will be common in basic led light bulbs and indoor fixtures.
IP65 Waterproof Rating:
Considered to be perfect for domestic and commercial use, IP65 rating gives complete protection against foreign bodies and water jets. Water disposed of by a nozzle of 6.3mm will have no damaging effect on LED lights. Anytime you are purchasing an outdoor fixture it should be IP65 rated. This includes fixtures like LED Flood Lights or LED Parking Lot Lights.
IP67 and IP68 Waterproof Rating:
LED lights with IP67 or IP68 ratings give complete protection against foreign objects (similar to IP64 and IP65). However, the difference lies in protection against liquids. LED lights with this rating are much more resistant to water as compared IP65. Water will have no effect on LED light even if it is immersed in water of the depth of 1m.
For outdoor applications, the most commonly used IP level of LED lights is IP65, as it provides maximum protection against solid particles and a good amount of resistance against liquid particles as well. They can be fit to use for both in domestic and commercial purposes. The popular light fixtures such as LED street lights, outdoor LED strip lights.
IP Rating Reference Chart
Below is an easy to follow reference chart to help you decide which IP rating you need or have:
In addition to the above-mentioned IP ratings, there is also with another different kind of IP grade – IP69K.
What is IP69K?
The IP69K rating provides protection against ingress of dust and high temperature, high-pressure water – making products with this certification ideal for use in conditions where equipment must be carefully sanitized.
In industries such as food processing, where hygiene and cleanliness are paramount, equipment must be able to withstand rigorous high pressure, high temperature wash-down procedures.
In many industries, where dust and dirt can be an issue, it is important to ensure that dust cannot penetrate the casing of a product and cause it to fail.
The IP69K rating is the highest protection available.
What are the advantages of IP69K?
In environments that require heavy washdown, such as in the food processing industry, the combination of water, chemicals, high pressures, and temperatures can prove fatal for electronic circuits and instrumentation. The IP69K rating offers complete assurance that the piece of equipment that has undergone that tests is both durable and resistant and conforms to the highest protection rating on the scale.
How does a product achieve the IP69K rating?
Products bearing the IP69K rating undergo a challenging set of tests to ensure that they offer protection against penetration of high pressure, high-temperature water and dust. The popular fixtures with this character such as IP69K tri-proof light.
How is the water intrusion test performed?
The water intrusion tests themselves are done by placing the product on a turntable with a rotational speed of 5 ±1 revolutions per minute. The product is then sprayed at close range at a rate of approximately 4 gallons/16 liters per minute with the water pressure of between 1160-1450 psi, at a temperature of 176°F/80°C.
The nozzle from which the water is sprayed is held between 4 and 6 inches from the product, at a variety of angles. Following this rigorous testing procedure, the product is deemed as having successfully achieved the rating if it completely resists water ingress.