April 20, 2023
Manufacturers often use the term “dust resistant” or “waterproof” to describe their products’ robustness. But such statements don’t give proper justification for the extent of protection. So, to specify and strengthen such claims, they use IP ratings to define the resistance level of their products. But what does IP rating mean?
Ingress Protection or IP rating is an International Standard EN 60529-defined rating system used to measure the degree of protection of any electrical devices against foreign bodies (dust, wires, etc.) and moisture (water). It is a two-digit grading system where the first digit denotes protection against solid ingress and the second digit for liquid ingress.
The IP rating is a significant factor when purchasing electronic devices, including light fixtures or LED strips. So, here I’ve presented a detailed guideline about various IP ratings and their suitable uses-
Ingress Protection or IP rating indicates the degree of protection of any electrical object from solid and liquid ingress. It usually consists of two digits. The first digit indicates protection from solids, and the second from the liquid. So, the higher the numbers after IP, the better the protection it provides. Yet, there can be a third letter describing more information about the level of protection. But this letter is often omitted.
So, to simplify, IP rating indicates the ability of a device to resist foreign particles like- dust, water, or unwanted contact. And this term applies to all electronic devices; Lights, Phones, Irons, TV, etc.
The letter ‘X’ in the IP rating indicates that the device has not been rated for any specific protection level. So, for example, if X replaces the first digit of the IP rating, it indicates that the device has no data available on protection from solid ingress/dust. And if it replaces the second digit, the machine has no ratings for liquid ingress protection.
Thus, IPX6 means that an object can resist water spray but has yet to go through any test to clarify the rating for solid contact. And IP6X indicates just the opposite fact; it is safe from solid ingress, but no information is available for waterproofing.
The numbers and letters in the IP rating have a definite meaning. Each of the digits indicates a specific level of protection.
The first digit of the IP rating specifies the level of protection from solid bodies like- dust, fingers, or any tools, etc. The degree of protection for solids is graded with X, 0, 1,2,3,4,5, and 6. Each digit indicates different protection properties.
The IP rating’s second digit describes how well an enclosure protects internal components from various types of moisture (sprays, drips, submersion, etc.). It is graded as X, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6K, 7, 8, 9, and 9K. Similar to the first digit, they also define different degrees of protection.
The letter at the end of the digits of the IP rating denotes supplementary information from the product standard. But, these letters are often omitted in the specifications. Yet, you should know the meaning of these letters to get a better idea about the protection level.
The IP rating measures the degree of protection from three key metrics. These are:
When using or installing a device, it comes in contact with equipment or the human body. The IP rating measures the level of safety or resistance ability of the device to user contact (accidental or otherwise). For example- IP2X indicates protection against a finger or other similar reference.
The IP rating measures the protection level of a fixture or any device from solid bodies like dust, dirt, etc. The first digit of the IP rating denotes this property of resistance to foreign bodies. For example- IP6X ensures tight protection from any dust particles.
The second digit of the IP rating measures the capability of an electric device to withstand moisture (liquid). For instance- IPX4 indicates that water splashing from any direction will not harm the appliance.
Thus, with an IP rating, you can know about the resistance level of any device to the user, solid and liquid interference.
The IP rating clarifies any electrical device’s safety level in adverse environments/weather conditions. With an IP rating, the buyers/customers can be sure about the resistance level of any machine.
When any manufacturer claims a product to be water-resistant or dustproof, it doesn’t specify how much water it can withstand for how many minutes. But by mentioning the IP rating, you can get accurate information about water protection. For example- a fixture with IP67 denotes –
So, when purchasing any device, go through the IP ratings to clarify the degree of protection. For instance, if you want to install LED lighting outdoors, you need to remember the adverse weather conditions like- rain, storm, etc. So, a fixture with IP67 or IP68 will work best for robust protection.
Thus, an IP rating system can give you an accurate idea about the safety and protection of a fixator/device. And knowing the IP ratings is essential to get a suitable appliance.
IP ratings are used in various devices to denote the ability to protect their internal structure. Here are some of the standard products where which come with IP ratings-
Light fixtures have an IP rating to protect them from dust and water. So, for example, when installing lights outdoors, you must ensure they are dust and water-resistant and can withstand rain and other extreme weather conditions. But again, when you need indoor lighting, it doesn’t require waterproof features.
So, IP ratings of lights vary with the purpose and atmosphere of using them. Here are some ideal ratings for different lighting purposes-
Enclosures are one of the most common items with an IP rating. It can be enclosures of any type, from domestic to industrial uses. However, most of these enclosures are for mechanical or electrical systems—for example- phone housing, instrument case, etc.
Enclosures that stand on the floor quickly get contact with water and insects. That is why the use of IP ratings for such products is essential. And it should have a minimum rating of IP43 for primary protection. With this rating, a floor-standing enclosure can protect itself from tools, wires, and small insects. Besides, it can resist water spray up to 60 degrees from a vertical direction.
Yet, the IP rating of the product depends much on the component placed inside the enclosure. Depending on it, the rating shall go higher; however, IP67 or IP68 work best for secured protection. That is because it ensures tight-dust protection and water resistance and keeps your device safe.
General-purpose enclosures are non-specific storage devices that protect an extensive range of electrical equipment. They are highly versatile and have multi-functional electronic storage facilities. Some of them may also have a keypad or lock system.
Usually, the most basic general-purpose enclosure doesn’t have IP ratings. But the ones used for outdoors or industrial purposes have higher IP ratings- IP65 or higher.
The handheld enclosures are small in size and intended for portability. Therefore, most concentrate more on shielding the device from unintentional damage. That is why they have a lower IP rating. But the ones used outdoors or in wet environments have higher IP ratings.
The enclosures in this category include- a case of voltmeter, digital thermostats, flow readers or heavy-duty phones, etc.
Besides the enclosures, the accessories used also have an IP rating. And the rating for accessories is vital because they ensure the safety of using them on the enclosure. The accessories include- self-adhesive feet, keypads, locks, nuts, brackets, screws, locks, etc.
Besides different types of enclosures, IP rating is used for grading the protection level of many other products. For example- wall boxes, instrument cases, power supply cases, etc.
Therefore, IP rating is prominent in almost every kind of electrical device. And it is also crucial to consider this before purchasing any fixtures or appliances.
The IP rating requirements for lights vary depending on the location and purpose of use. As a result, lighting needs specific IP ratings to withstand the environment. Here are some IP ratings for LED lighting that are appropriate for various applications:
Lighting indoors doesn’t face heavy dust or a wet environment, so it doesn’t require a higher IP rating. A minimal rating of IP20 works well indoors. It protects fingers or similar objects. But bathroom lighting needs a higher IP rating to resist moisture.
When choosing lights for the bathroom, you should be careful with IP ratings as these areas face direct contact with water. Based on this, the bathroom areas can be divided into four zones. The IP requirements for each zone are as follows-
So, get a proper idea about your bathroom zones and choose the ideal fixture that is safe for use in the bathroom.
Security lights are often placed outdoors that face adverse weather conditions; rain, storm, and heavy dust. So, only a fixture with higher IP ratings can withstand such an environment. And for this purpose, you can go for IP44 – IP68 considering the place to install the lighting. But for outdoor uses, IP68 is an ideal choice. It ensures complete dust protection and is waterproof.
When choosing the ideal fixture for street lighting, consider weather conditions like- dust, wind, and rainwater. A higher IP rating will give rugged protection from street dust and rainfall in these situations. So, choose a fixture with a rating of at least IP65, but IP67 or 68 will be best.
In garden lighting, you can go for IP54 or IP65 based on your fixture’s exposure. So, for example, if the light source is more sheltered and doesn’t get direct contact with adverse weather, go for IP54. But if it is more exposed, go for IP65 or higher.
Lighting outdoors, pools or music fountains require water-resistant fixtures. But in choosing the ideal one, you need to know the difference between IP65, IP67, and IP68.
Water-Resistant Features: IP65 vs. IP67 vs. IP68
So, considering these IP rating features, you can get the best water-resistant lights that suit your requirements.
LED strips have a maximum and a minimum IP rating which you should know before purchasing.
IP68 is the maximum protection rating for LED strips. The type of protection that a LED strip with IP68 will offer are-
Thus, with this IP rating, you can use LED strips anywhere; poolside, underwater, bathroom, outdoors, street lighting, wall lighting, etc.
A LED strip should have a minimum Ingress Protection rating of IP20. This rating provides LED strip protection from small objects (greater than 12.5 mm), i.e., fingers. But it doesn’t give dust or water protection.
That is why LED strips with an IP20 rating are unsuitable outdoors. Instead, you can use them for indoor lighting areas like- bedrooms, offices, living rooms, etc.
LED strips are available with different IP ratings. And in choosing the ideal rating for your lighting project, you should know the primary difference between higher and lower IP ratings. Here I have presented a general distinction between high and low IP ratings-
So, go for a lower IP rating if you want to light indoors, house or office. And for outdoor or industrial lighting, go for a higher IP rating with robust protection features.
You can use LED strips both indoors and outdoors. But this suitability depends on its IP rating. Besides this, there are many other reasons to consider the IP rating before buying LED strips. These are-
IP rating assists you in choosing a suitable fixture for your lighting project. For example, if you want to light your pool, it requires a submersible LED strip. But all IP ratings with water-resistant strips will not work for lighting pools because all don’t support submerging. For instance- IP68 and IP65 are water resistant, but one can immerse and the other can’t. So, knowing the IP rating will help you to get the ideal one.
Again, if you want to light industrial areas that deal with heavy dust, the IP rating of the LED strip will guide you if it is suitable for that purpose.
Electricity and water are always a dangerous combination. So, to ensure safety, it is essential to know if the LED strip is resistant to water. And for that purpose, knowing the IP rating is necessary.
The IP rating gives the exact idea of how much a LED strip is resistant to water. It is not only for water; this rating also ensures whether a fixture can conduct on high-voltage or is dustproof. Thus, the IP rating clarifies the safety of a LED strip.
IP rating indirectly denotes the functionality and durability of LED strips. But how’s that? Suppose a LED strip with IP68 rating states that it is waterproof and can function in a wet environment. Thus, you can get the idea to choose it for the bathroom, pool lighting, or for outdoors.
Again, you can also know whether the LED strip will be durable in rough weather conditions. For example- a LED strip with IP44 will be stable for indoor use but not a good choice for outdoors. In this way, IP rating can help you to sketch an idea about the functionality and durability of LED strips.
IP ratings maintain the same standard globally. In addition, it sets an industrial standard to grade the degree of protection of any electrical device, including LED strips. Thus, IP rating lets you know about the product’s resistance capability. And it also helps you in purchasing fixtures from abroad without worrying about visual testing.
So, for these reasons, as mentioned above, you should consider the IP ratings before purchasing LED strips.
The products with IP44 and IP65 ratings ensure protection from user ingress, touch, wires, tool, etc. But still, which one is better? Let’s compare them to find the better one-
Thus, comparing these two ratings, we found IP65 is better as it provides higher protection than IP44.
IP55 and IP65 provide an equal degree of protection against liquid ingress. Thus, water jets from any direction will not harm the product with these IP ratings. But they have differences in solid ingress protection.
IP55 is partially protected from dust. That is, there are chances for dust accumulation. In contrast, IP65 ensures complete dust protection. So, IP65 is better than IP55.
IP55 and IP66 have different degrees of protection against solid and liquid ingress. Let’s compare these two ratings to find the better one-
Thus, IP66 gives better protection against solid and liquid ingress than IP55.
Go through the following comparison to choose the better one between IP55 and IPX4-
So, for protection against both solid and liquid ingress, IP55 is a better option than IPX4.
You should first know the similarities and dissimilarities between IP67 & IP68 to find the better one. These are as follows-
After analyzing the similarities and differences between IP67 and 68, I find IP68 is better than IP67.
The IP68 and IP69 have the same level of protection against solid ingress. But the difference is visible in terms of protection against liquid ingress.
IP69 is resistant to high temperature, high water pressure, and washout. Therefore, they are ideal for projects that require high sanitization and must tolerate high pressure and hot water cleaning. For example, pharmaceutical applications, chemical manufacturing, food and beverage processing, etc., use IP69 rating devices.
In contrast, IP68 ensures an object’s capability of continuous submerging under manufacture-specified conditions. They can withstand 1m or more deep water for 30 min or more.
Though IP969 is the highest degree for liquid ingress, it is often considered overkill for most applications. On the other hand, IP68 is the most commonly used IP rating for general purposes. Such as rating lights and LED strips; IP68 is used rather than IP69. In contrast, IP69 is used for items that require frequent washouts under high water pressure. So, choosing the better one from IP69 and IP68, you must consider the intent of use.
A higher IP rating means better protection from solid and liquid ingress. So, a LED strip/device with high IP ratings can withstand adverse weather conditions like- heavy rainfall, storm, and dust. That is why you can use them anywhere without worrying about damage from bad weather. Moreover, a higher IP rating- IP68 can submerge in water. So, you can use LED strips with this rating for lighting music fountains, pools, bathtubs, etc.
On the other hand, a lower IP rating doesn’t support complete protection from dust and water. So, they are not suitable for adverse weather conditions or outdoors.
To sum up, a higher IP rating gives better security, which is why it is a better option.
IP water resistance is important for LED strips for the following reasons-
LED strips are used for various purposes, indoors or outdoors. So, it has to go through several challenging atmospheric conditions. And IP water resistance allows it to withstand such an environment.
Besides, IP68 provides complete water protection to LED strips and can be used on submerged areas like pools, bathtubs, artificial fountains, etc.
Water resistance is a must when it comes to outdoor lighting. LED strips with IP water resistance (IP65, 67, and 68) can resist water up to certain limits. For example- IP65 can handle low-pressure water jets, whereas IP67 and IP68 can go well on heavy rail fall conditions.
The IP rating is a global standard under International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Standard 60529. It is a worldwide recognized system that allows businesses/customers in global markets to select waterproof LED strips confidently.
So, IP water resistance is a crucial factor to consider in selecting LED strips for your project.
Before knowing the ratings for waterproof, first, understand what exactly waterproof defines. Waterproof means complete protection from water; no water can enter the enclosure. But we often mix the term waterproof with water-resistance (indicating the ability to resist water to some degree, not entirely).
In that sense, IP68 is waterproof and can resist water from entering the enclosure (it can submerge in water as per the manufacturer’s spec). And other ratings – IP65, IP66, IP67 are actually water resistant. They can resist water to some degree but not completely.
If a unit only has one rating, it means it passed all tests up to and including the number displayed. For example- A LED strip with an IP67 rating means it has passed all lower rating tests along with its IP67 tests.
But sometimes, a single product can have multiple ratings. Like- IP55/IP57 is a multi-IP rating that indicates that the product has passed all the tests up to IP55. It has further passed IP57 tests but failed to pass IPX6. Such ratings are commonly seen on cellular devices.
Another typical example of multi-rating is – IP68M and IP69K. It means that the product has passed both tests.
IP rating testing involves various machinery, and different IP ratings must pass several test procedures. Thus, testing IP ratings can be divided into two sections: solid ingress (dust test) and liquid ingress (water test).
Dust testing ensures a product’s safety or resistance level due to dust accumulation. This testing often requires medical and electronic devices that can attract dust.
If the dust test doesn’t interfere with the part’s functionality, it is rated as dust-protected, IP5X. And if the tests result in tight dust protection, the product is rated as IP6X.
Water-resistant tests concern a product’s ability to withstand water spray, splash, jets, or submersion. For example- An item is tested for IPX4 by subjecting it to an oscillating spray for at least 10 minutes. And the thing passes if there is minimal ingress and no adverse consequences. Similarly, a product gives an IP67 rating when immersed in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes with no harmful effects.
However, several high-tech mercenaries are used to conduct these tests. For example- LEDYi has “IP3-6 Integrated Waterproof Test Chamber” and an “IPX8 Flooding Pressure Testing Machine” for the most accurate water resistance testing of LED strips.
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