Ingress Protection or International Protection?
- In the context of IP Ratings, many people believe IP to stand for Ingress Protection. It actually stands for International Protection, which sounds like some kind of defence from attack from foreign countries! So I suppose Ingress Protection does actually make more sense in a way, given that IP Ratings are mainly to do with preventing objects or moisture from getting in.
- In many instances we need to make sure that the right amount of protection is applied to a device, fitting or appliance. In some cases this may simply mean that there are no holes large enough to stick your finger in and risk getting an electric shock, whilst in other cases we might need to ensure that no dust, or moisture from steam, splashes, direct jets or water or submersion occur.
- Typical examples include lighting in a bathroom or shower room, outside lamps and sockets, water pumps in a pond, etc. An outside security lamp may, for example, have a rating of IP44. The downlights in your bathroom may have a rating of IP65, whereas the extractor fan may be rated at IPX4.
- Given that the first two characters will always be IP, let’s look at the third and fourth characters, which are in most cases numerals.
3rd character: This is the degree of protection against penetration by solid objects. These would typically include a finger, a tool, or anything else which may fall into the enclosure.
IP?X Description 0 No protection against contact and ingress. 1 Greater than 50mm (2 inches) in diameter. This would include protection against contact from the back of the hand. 2 Greater than 12.5mm (1/2 inch) in diameter, such as a person’s finger, and no longer than 80mm in length. 3 Greater than 2.5mm in diameter, such as screwdrivers and other tools. 4 Greater than 1mm in diameter (for example wires and nails). 5 Limited but not complete protection against the entry dust that could harm or interfere with equipment. 6 Complete protection against any dust entering.
4th character: This is the degree of protection against ingress of water and moisture.
IPX? Description 0 Not protected. 1 Protection against vertically dripping water. 2 Protection against dripping water up to 15 degrees from vertical. 3 Protection against sprays of water up to 60 degrees on either side. We could consider this as rain proof. 4 Protection against splashes (sprays) of water from any angle. 5 Protection against water jets from any direction. 6 Protection against powerful jets of water. 7 Protection against temporary submersion in water, under defined conditions of pressure and time. This is between 15cm and 1m in depth for up to 30 minutes. 8 Protection against continuous submersion in water under pressure of greater depths, such as 3.6m for 24 hours. 9
KProtection against high pressure at high temperature. An example would be protection against jets from steam cleaner.
- So based on the above explanations, you should be able to see that:
- A bathroom extractor fan with a IP rating of IPX4 is splash proof, whereas one rated at IPX5 is designed to withstand being hit by a limited amount of jet water.
- An external socket for the garden rated at IP66 is designed to be weather proof to a greater degree than a PIR wall lantern or garden spike light rated at IP44.
- Furthermore, if you were to compare the IP ratings of a number of garden spike lights rated at IP44, IP54 and IP65, the higher the FOURTH digit, the more weatherproof they are.
- There may be cases where the IP code is 5 or 6 characters in length, but these are more to do with the protection from impact of falling weights of varying weights and heights. As this page is focussed on electrical equipment and fittings, I will not be going into any further detail about those.
This information about IP Codes has been provided by TDES of Spalding, Lincolnshire, and is for guidance only.