What does IP rated mean?


What does IP rated mean?

Electrical enclosures and devices, especially those that are designed to be installed where water or dust particles are present will have a rating to determine the degree in which the enclosure will protect the electrical connections and equipment inside the enclosure, from the ingress from solid foreign objects, or dust and the harmful effects of moisture or water. This is known as the IP rating (International Protection) and will have two digits IPXX.

The first number is the degree of protection from solid objects. IP2X for example, will give a protection from objects of 12.5mm, or a finger and a rating of IP4X and IP5X, would be protection of 1mm and dust tight respectively.

1st Digit explained.

The X would denote that there is no protection from the ingress of solid objects.

  1. Protection from a large part of the body such as he back of the hand, or from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter.
  2. Protection against fingers or tool greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter (accidental finger contact).
  3. Protection from entry by tools, wires etc, with a diameter greater than 2.5mm.
  4. Protection against solid objects larger than 1mm, such as wires.
  5. Partial protection against dust that may harm equipment.
  6. Totally dust tight. Full protection against dust and other particulates.


Therefore, the second digit represents the degree of moisture afforded by the enclosure from water droplets. IPX1 protects the electrical equipment within the enclosure from vertically falling water droplets, such as condensation from directly above. A rating of IPX4 or IPX6 would be protection from water splashed against the enclosure from any direction and powerful jets of water projected against the enclosure from any direction such as sea waves, or power jet spays respectively.

2nd Digit explained.

X – no protection.

  1. Protection against vertically falling droplets from above, such as condensation.
  2. Protection against vertically falling droplets from above, when the enclosure is tilted up to 15° from vertical
  3. Protected against water spray, from any angle, up to 60° from vertical.
  4. Protected against water splashes from all directions.
  5. Protection against low-pressure jets of directed water from any angle, such as from hose pipes.
  6. Protection against powerful jets of directed water from any angle, such as from sea waves or pressure jets.
  7. Protection against temporary full immersion of enclosure, for up to 30 minutes at depths between 15 cm and 1 metre.
  8. Protection against continuous immersion of enclosure, under specified conditions.
  9. Protection of the enclosure against high-pressure, high-temperature jet sprays, or steam-cleaning procedures.

A typical shower room electric shower unit would be rated as IPX4. Enclosures for connections to lighting in a garden, such as for herbaceous border lighting, for example, would generally be IP56 to give protection from hose pipes, weather and fauna.

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