When you buy a new light fixture, you don’t want it to be a piece of junk. You want it to last for a long time, and hold up under the elements. You want to get your money’s worth.
But how can you figure this out before getting out your wallet? Shaking the box or tapping on the cover just won’t do.
You need to hear about IP rating.
IP, or Ingress Protection ratings are developed by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC). A fixture’s rating indicates how well its enclosure protects its electrical equipment from the environment.
The IP rating usually includes two different numbers:
- The first rates protection from solid objects and materials (like dust).
- The second rates protection from liquids (like water).
These tables show what each rating indicates:
First IP Number – Protection Against Solid Objects
|0||No special protection|
|1||Protected against solid objects up to 50 mm, e.g., accidental touch by person’s hands.|
|2||Protected against solid objects up to 12 mm, e.g., person’s fingers.|
|3||Protected against solid objects over 2.5 mm (tools and wires).|
|4||Protected against solid objects over 1 mm (tools, wires, and small wires).|
|5||Protected against dust limited ingress (no harmful deposit).|
|6||Totally protected against dust.|
Second IP Number – Protection Against Liquids
|1||Protected against vertically falling drops of water, e.g., condensation.|
|2||Protected against direct sprays of water up to 15° from the vertical.|
|3||Protected against direct sprays of water up to 60° from the vertical.|
|4||Protected against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted.|
|5||Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions – limited ingress.|
|6||Protected against temporary flooding of water, e.g., for use on ship decks – limited ingress permitted.|
|7||Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 100 cm.|
|8||Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure.|
It’s especially important to understand a fixture’s IP rating when you plan to use it outside – step lights, accent lights, landscape lights – or if it’s going indoors in a bathroom or steam room.
For instance, if you want to use flexible tape lights around your deck, you would see they have a rating of IP65. The “6” means they are completely protected against dust, and the “5” means they can withstand water sprayed from all directions. From this, you can gather that the lights will be suitable for your deck, unless it’s prone to frequent flooding.
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