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IP Ratings Explained

What is an IP rating?

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. 

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.

The digits (characteristic numerals) indicate conformity with the conditions summarised in the tables below. For example, an electrical socket rated IP22 is protected against insertion of fingers and will not be damaged or become unsafe during a specified test in which it is exposed to vertically or nearly vertically dripping water. IP44 are typical minimum requirements for the design of electrical accessories for outdoor use.

First Digit: Solids

0 - No protection against contact and ingress of objects

1 -  Protection against any large surface of the body such as the back of the hand.

2 - Protection against fingers or small objects

3 - Protection against tools and thick wires etc

4 -  Protection against most wires, screws etc

5 - Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not entering sufficient quantity to interfere with operation of the equipment. Complete protection against contact

6 - No ingress of dust and complete protection against contact.

Second Digit: Liquids

0 -  Not protected

1 - Protected against vertically dripping water

2 - Protected against dripping water when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.

3 -  Protected against water as a spray at any angle up to 60°

4 -  Protected against water splashing against the enclosure from any direction

5 -  Protected against water projected by a a nozzle (6.3mm) against enclosure from any direction.

6 - Protected against water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction.

7 - 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).

8 - 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.

To help explain this further, please see the diagram below explaining the IP Rating zones in a bathroom:

what IP ratings for bathroom zones

Zone 0 - Inside a Bath or shower - only low voltage (12V) Total Immersion units. This would be similar for inside an exterior pool. 

Zone 1 - The area immediately surrounding the bath / shower to 2.25 m above the bath. Any lights in this zone must be IP55 or higher i.e spray proof. This would be similar for areas in high splash zones e.g poolsides, pond-sides or anywhere with extremely wet climates.

Zone 2 - This area must have splash proof lights IP54 or higher.

Zone 3 - No IP requirement, but IP44 preferable as these are splash proof. This zone would be similar to a covered porch area for example.

If you have any further questions, please get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have!