Scott Brewer, Head of Technical at Knightsbridge, considers the details of IP ratings, and what they mean for lighting and wiring devices in the wild.
Ingress Protection ratings (IP ratings) – based on BS EN 60529:1992 – provide classification of a device in terms of the level of protection provided against the insertion of solid objects (for example, fingers or dust) or water into electrical equipment. The intention is to provide users with details of performance, rather than vague descriptions such as waterproof or splashproof.
An IP rating consists of two digits: the first from zero to six and the second from zero to nine – the highest only being encountered in specialist applications.
What do they represent?
The first number refers to the size of object that could enter an enclosure and compromise any device within. The second indicates the level of protection afforded against liquids. Where a device is referred to by a rating for either dust or water, but not both, the rating is expressed as, for example, IPX5 or IP6X.
The tables (pictured below) detail the actual ratings and what they protect against: IPX7 and IPX8 are encountered less often and refer to a product’s capacity for immersion – up to 1m in the case of the former, and beyond 1m as stated by the manufacturer in the case of the latter. Most commonly encountered will be connectors and accessories which allow for installations in flowerbeds or water features, such as ponds and fountains.
Different testing regimes
It should be noted that the testing regime for IPX7 and IPX8 is different from IPX6 and below and while such products might be submersible, they are not, surprisingly, necessarily protected against splashes and water jets. In respect of immersion of IPX7 and IPX8 items, performance varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and one would normally need to check with them for actual time limits for immersion and at what depths.
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