The IP rating or IP code refers to the Ingress Protection rating also sometimes called the international Protection rating. This is a system that was set up to give a standardised and easily readable interpretation of a product’s protection against solid objects and moisture. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and equivalent European Standards (EN) code for IP ratings are IEC 60529 and EN 60529 respectively.
The IP rating is made up of two numbers. The first refers to the amount of protection against a solid object such as a person’s finger, a tool or dust. The second number refers to the protection against moisture such as rain, pressurised water or the complete submersion of a product. Some ratings will show an X such as IP2X, in these instances the X can be changed to a 0 or simple no protection is given.
There are also, in some circumstances, additional letters after the double number code. These represent additional protections or explain how the testing was conducted. The most likely letter seen would be K which follows the code IP69. This IP69K code is a newer rating that was designed for products which can withstand high-pressure and high-temperature water ingress. This makes them ideal for steam cleaning and is seen on products which undergo regular cleaning at these high levels.
Below is a list of the different levels of protection which make up the IP rating system.
The first number – Solid object protection
0 or X – No protection given
1 – Protection against objects larger than 50mm such as the back of an average adult hand
2 – Protection against objects larger than 12.5mm such as an average adult finger
3 – Protection against objects larger than 2.5mm such as tools
4 – Protection against objects larger than 1mm such as wires, screws or insects
5 – Partial protection against dust, some dust may enter but not enough to cause the product to fail
6 – Protection against dust within a vacuum for up to 8 hours
The second number – Moisture protection
0 or X – No protection given
1 – Protection against vertically dripping water
2 – Protection against dripping water at a 15° angle
3 – Protection against spraying water at an angle up to 60° from vertical
4 – Protection against splashing water from any direction
5 – Protection against water jets from a nozzle of 6.3mm from any direction at 30kPa
6 – Protection against powerful water jets from a nozzle of 6.3mm from any direction at 100kPa
6K – Protection against powerful water jets from a nozzle of 6.3mm from any direction at 1,000kPa
7 – Protection against immersion in water up to 1m for 30 minutes
8 – This number varies depending on the manufacturer but usually relates to protection against immersion in water at depths of over 1m for over 30 minutes or at 1m for up to 24 hours.
9K – Protection against powerful and high-temperature water jets at 80°C and under the pressure of 8-10MPa.
A – Protection against the back of an average adults hand
B – Protection against an average adults finger
C – Protection against access with a tool
D – Protection against access with a wire
F – Oil Resistant
H – High voltage device
M – Device was moving during the water test
S – Device was stationary during the water test
W – Protection against weather conditions i.e. rain and humidity
It is important to remember that IP ratings are designed to give designers and purchasers a quick way to identify if a product will meet their requirements and does not mean one is better than another. For instance, a product intended for general outdoor use does not need to have an IP67, IP68 or IP69K rating which will also cost much more to purchase. For many outdoor applications, an IP65 or IP66 rating would be more than enough protection against wind and rain.
Remember the IP rating system is designed to standardise and relay information and the higher the number is not necessarily always the better option.