What is an IP Rating? (Ingress Protection Rating)

What is an IP Rating?
What is an IP Rating? (Ingress Protection Rating)

IP Rating – Ingress Protection Rating 

Electrical devices are found all across the world, in very different working environments and even in the home. A device that is suitable for a clean environment like a medical process would be ineffective in a dirtier environment like a steel foundry. In this article, we are going to discuss the international rating system that classifies devices for different environmental conditions. That rating system is called the Ingress Protection, or IP rating, as it is commonly referred to. All electrical devices have an IP rating, even the one you are reading this post on.

The IP ratings are defined in international standard EN 60529 and are used to set the levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures and devices against intrusion from foreign bodies such as dirt and water. The IP rating consists of two digits, such as IP 68. Each has different protection and levels. Having an international rating system such as the IP rating allows for the conformity of electrical devices. guaranteeing that a device will be protected the same in different parts of the world.

Let’s break down the rating to better understand what a rating means. The first digit in the IP rating is the protection rating against solids. The first digit can be a zero up to a 6 and the protection against solids increases from low to high. A rating of 0 states that the device or panel has no special protection against solids.

  • IP 1 Solids: Protection level 1 protects a large part of the body such as a hand; from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter.
  • IP 2 Solids: Level 2 protects against fingers or other objects not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.
  • IP 3 Solids: A rating of 3 protects from entry by tools, wires, and similar devices with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more.
  • IP 4 Solids: A rating of 4 protects against solid bodies larger than 1mm.
  • IP 5 Solids: Level 5 protects against dust that may harm equipment.
  • IP 6 Solids: Ratings of 6 mean that the device or panel is completely dust tight.

The second digit in the IP rating is the protection rating against liquids.

The second digit can be a 0 up to an 8. Just like the first digit, the level of protection increases from low to high.

  • IP 0 Liquids: Protection Level 0 states that the device or panel has no special protection against liquids.
  • IP 1 Liquids: A rating of 1 protects against condensation and dripping water.
  • IP 2 Liquids: Level 2 protects against water droplets deflected up to 15 degrees from vertical.
  • IP 3 Liquids: A rating of 3 protects your device or panel from spray up to 60 degrees from vertical.
  • IP 4 Liquids: A rating of 4 protects against water spray from all directions.
  • IP 5 Liquids: Level 5 protects against low-pressure water jets from all directions.
  • IP 6 Liquids: A rating of 6 means that the device or panel is protected against strong water jets and waves.
  • IP 7 Liquids: A rating of 7 protects against temporary immersion of your device or panel.
  • IP 8 Liquids: And finally, a rating of 8 protects against the prolonged effects of immersion under pressure.

Now let’s talk about how the two digits in the IP rating go together as a full rating.

All electrical devices that have an IP rating will have a two-digit rating, as we mentioned before. For example, if a device has a rating of IP68 the device will be dust-tight and protected against long periods of immersion in water under pressure. This example is both dust-tight and water-tight according to the standards set up in the IP rating.

Let’s look at another example; how about IP34?

This device would be protected against larger solid objects, something over 2.5 mm, and protected against water sprayed from all directions. With this rating, the device would most likely need to be in some sort of enclosure because the solid protection is only against large objects.

Let’s look at a final example: 
IP61 Here there is full dust protection, but the only liquid protection is for vertically falling drops of water. This device could be outside of an enclosure, assuming water is not going to be used anywhere near the device.

In closing, the IP rating, or ingress protection rating, is an international standard set up for conformity in solid and liquid protection for electrical devices. The IP rating is found on handheld devices and goes all the way up to industrial electrical enclosures.

The important thing to remember with the IP rating is that the first number covers protection against solids, the second number covers liquid protection, and the larger the digit, the greater the protection.

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