IP rating stands for ‘Ingress Protection’ and is always followed by two numbers. The first of these two numbers refer to the level of protection from foreign bodies entering the fitting. The second of the two numbers is the protection against water ingress, the higher the numbers the higher the protection. It is important that you choose fittings with the correct rating according to where they are to be installed.
IP ratings can be considered tricky to work out, especially when working with bathrooms and swimming pools where light fittings might need to be splash-proof or even submerged.
The first digit indicates the level of protection against solid objects:
0: No Special Protection
1: Protection from a large part of the body such as a hand (but no protection from deliberate access) from solid objects greater than 50mm diameter.
2: Protection against fingers or other object no greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.
3: Protection from entry by tools, wires etc. with a diameter of thickness greater than 1.0mm
4: Protection from entry by solid objects with a diameter or thickness greater than 1.0mm
5: Protection from the amount of dust that would interfere with the operation of the equipment
6: Dust tight
The second digit indicates the level of protection against water:
0: No protection
1: Protection from dripping water
2: Protection from vertically dripping water
3: Protection from sprayed water
4: Protection from splashed water
5: Protection from water projected from a nozzle
6: Protection against heavy seas, or powerful jets of water
7: Protection against immersion in water
8: Protection against complete, continuous submersion in water
For a bathroom environment, we use “Zones” to establish what fitting needs to be installed where.
Zone 1: The Perimeter of bathtub or shower tray up to a height of 2.25 meter above the floor- IPX4 Use IPX5 where water jets are used for cleaning purposes. The space under the bath is zone 1 if accessible without the use of a tool, or outside the zones if accessible only with the use of a tool.
Zone 2: The Perimeter 0.6 meter wide around Zone 1 and 0.75 meter above Zone 1 – IPX4. Use IPX5 where water jets are used for cleaning purposes.
Zone 3: The Perimeter 2.4 meter wide around zone 2 and 0.75 meter above Zone 2 – Use IPX5 where water jets are used for cleaning purposes. Otherwise no specified IP rating required although lights should be suitable for their location and provide adequate protection against electric shock.
For outdoor lighting, the IP rating is usually based around the location of the fitting. All outdoor lights should be IP6X dust tight.
Pond lights need to be IP68 to be fully submerged – when we went to Italy back in January we saw the tests IP68 fittings have to go through – some had been continuously on and submerged for over 10 years! You need different lights for ponds and swimming pools – pool lights tend to be submerged deeper and so have been specifically designed to withstand a certain amount of pressure.
Ground lights and uplights need to be at least IP66 in case of rain fall, ideally IP67 in case puddles form and the fitting is submerged for a time. The most common issue with exterior ground lights not having sufficient IP ratings is either glass shattering in a frost or poor installation meaning condensation and dirt get inside the fitting itself. (Below image from http://luxreview.com/article/2016/02/7-big-problems-with-in-ground-uplights—and-7-fixes)
Outdoor spotlights and wall lights need to be IP65 – it’s unlikely they’ll ever be submerged as they tend to be slightly raised from ground level, but they will need to withstand rain and potentially sprinkler systems/hosepipes.