A product’s IP rating basically defines the levels of effective sealing a product is equipped with against water, dirt, and other natural or man-made elements.
What is an IP rating?
IP stands for Ingress Protection and the numbers attached to the IP code have specific rating. The first number signifies the range of impact the item can withstand during regular usage. The second digit, on the other hand, denotes protection when exposed to different kinds of moisture and liquids such as water, sprays, drips, submersion, etc. Let’s delve into the details to learn more.
Decoding the IP ratings
As aforementioned, the first digit denotes intrusion protection and the second number signifies safety against moisture.
First Digit – Solids
- 0 – No unique protection.
- 1 – Protection from large body parts, like hands and legs.
- 2 – Safety against fingers or objects not higher than 80mm (length) and 12mm (diameter).
- 3 – Protection against wires or tools with a 2.5mm diameter or higher.
- 4 – Safety against rigid bodies that are bigger than 1mm.
- 5 – Protection from dust that could harm machinery.
- 6 – Completely dustproof.
Second Digit – Liquids
- 0 – Zero protection.
- 1 – Condensation protection.
- 2 – Protection from water droplets that have a 15-degree vertical deflection.
- 3 – Protection from spray with 60-degree vertical deflection.
- 4 – Safety from water sprays.
- 5 – Safeguard against water jets (low pressure) flowing from all directions.
- 6 – Security against waves and string water jets.
- 7 – Protection against non-permanent immersions.
- 8 – Safety from prolonged immersion effects.
The actual IP numbers or range may vary across products and their typical usage scenarios – the common IP ratings generally are IP65, IP66, IP67 and IP68.
Generally, products are tested for their IP ratings by manufacturers in in-house or third-party laboratories that comply with IEC 60529. The objective is to ensure an independent, certified testing procedure.
The testing procedure typically entails examining the equipment’s protection against liquids and/or solid bodies and how well it fares in terms of the manufacturer’s specific waterproofing requirements. The exposure’s effects are then measured and a proper IP rating is given. This procedure would usually take a few weeks after the samples for testing are received.
Products tested for their resilience against liquid will typically have their covers and ports firmly closed. In compliance with IP57 means the item can be kept in freshwater up to a meter for not more than 30 minutes. IP58 means the depth can be increased to 1.5 meters.
Limitations to IP ratings
There are a few interesting things about these tests that are not common knowledge.
- The ratings don’t indicate the tested product can work when submerged in water within its classified range.
- Chemical exposure is also not permissible, this can also include salt water, which is why its always best to rinse them with tap water afterwards.
IP Rating Alternatives
IP ratings are pretty much the industry standard, but there’s National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in the U.S. that also helps classify a product’s protection levels from foreign bodies. In fact, it’s believed the IP standard was created as an alternative to NEMA rating.
IP and NEMA ratings don’t have any direct correlation, since both have a different variable base setup. NEMA ratings are denoted with “Type” and a number ranging from 1 to 13. Similar to IP rating standard, each “Type X” rating indicates specific ingression traits.
NEMA rating isn’t as popular as the IP rating system outside of the States. In fact, most consumer electronic goods with waterproof traits have their ingression traits mentioned in terms of IP ratings.
I hope this has helped you to understand the inner workings of the IP rating system and now you have acquired some not so common knowledge.