What is the IP rating system?

The IP Rating describes the enclosure for electronic equipment according to the definition of the European Committee for Electro Technical Standardization. IP is standing for Ingress Protection, the protection of the product against environmental effects like solid objects or liquids. The IP rating consists of two digits which are describing the height of the protection against these effects. The larger the number, the higher the protection.

First Digit - Solids Protection

The first digit tells you how well protected the fixture is against solids – such as dust. The higher the number the more protected it is.

Second Digit  - Liquid Protection

The second digit is used to tell you about the level of liquid protection: 0 being no protection and 8 being the highest available level of protection.

IP table


Protection against solid objects

Protection against liquids

0 no protection no protection
1 solid objects over 50mm, e.g. touch by hand
vertically falling drops of water, e.g. condensation
2 solid objects over 12mm, e.g. fingers
direct spray of water up to 15° from vertical
3 solid objects over 2,5mm, e.g. tools and wires
direct spray of water up to 60° from vertical
4 solid objects over 1mm, e.g. small tools, small wires water spray from all directions
5 dust, but limited (no harmful deposit) low pressure water jets from all directions
6 totally protected from dust temporary flooding of water, e.g. ship decks
7   immersion bath between 15cm and 1m
8   immersion bath for long period - under pressure


What is the connection of IP rating to LED luminaires?

The article “LED Life Cycle – Influences” describes a lot of points that need to be considered when designing a long- life efficient LED system with high ecological benefits.

Humidity is one reason for metal parts, connections and electronic devices to get damaged really fast. They start to corrode, so it is better to protect the LED system carefully against humidity. Even more careful decisions need to be made for environments like coastal climate, factories that are producing chemicals as well as indoor swimming pools.

However, the immediate need for an IP rated fixture really is 2 fold - the ability to repel water and the ability to not allow dust to enter inside. Protection from water intrusion is important for all outdoor fixtures, or those fixtures indoors that need to be washed down or are installed in an extremely humid environment. Keeping the internal mechnasisms of the light dry is very important. Without a strong IP certification to protect it, lights would fail.

The second application is for extremely dusty environments. Thinks of a grain storage facility where dust is prevalent. Keeping dust from entering the lighting fixture is important as to avoid situations where a spark might be introduced to the dust and cause an explosion. We've all seen the aftermath of a violent dust explosion, so where safety is paramount in a dusty environment, make sure the fixture is capable of keeping the dust out (As an aside, some environments require explosion proof fixtures, so never replace the requirement for an explosion proof fixture with one that is only IP rated)

Sample Areas and Suggested IP Ratings

Offices, Schools, Floors IP20
Factories, Warehouses, Distribution Centers IP20 - IP65
Processing Industries IP65
Streetlights, Sports Lighting IP66

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