What are light fitting IP ratings?

Find out: What do IP ratings mean? - How do IP ratings define the features & appearance of a light fitting? - What are common light IP rating requirements?

The below guide helps you to understand the definitions of IP ratings for light fittings and how they relate to the application of commercial & industrial lighting installations including factory lighting & warehouse lighting.

Lighting Ip Ratings Guide

Introduction to this guide

Here at Green Business Light, our energy efficient industrial and commercial light fitting installations must be correctly specified for use in the client's building (e.g. - factory, warehouse etc) - one of the ways this is done is the selection of the appropriate light fitting 'IP rating' e.g. - IP65, IP54....but what is this?

This guide helps you to understand what lighting IP ratings mean, how they are defined and how it is applied when choosing fittings for a lighting system (including LED industrial light fittings).


What are IP ratings?

The 'IP' Code is a standard referred to as International Protection Marking (also commonly interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking) - it rates the inherent degree of 'sealing protection' provided by the mechanical casing/electrical enclosure of a device against intrusion from foreign bodies (e.g. - fingers, tools, wires, insects, dust etc.) and forms of water exposure (e.g. - condensation, droplets, direct spray, full submersion etc.)

IP ratings are a well recognised benchmark (IEC international standard EN 60529 (British BS EN 60529:1992, European IEC 60509:1989) and are applied to many everyday devices - e.g. electronic/electric consumer goods


So what do the numbers mean?

Each IP code, has TWO digits to define its level of protection - an "x" is used as one of the digits if there is only one class of protection. The European Standard EN 60529 outlines the IP ratings as an international classification system for "enclosures for electrical equipment" as follows:

The first digit of the IP code indicates the degree that persons are protected against contact with moving parts (other than smooth rotating shafts, etc.) and the degree that equipment is protected against solid foreign bodies intruding into an enclosure.

The second digit indicates the degree of protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against the harmful entry of various forms of moisture (e.g. dripping, spraying, submersion, etc.)


Why are IP ratings required for lighting?

When choosing light fixtures for a commercial or industrial building, the IP rating specification should reflect the necessary protection against the environmental conditions that the light fitting is likely to experience.

The first digit of the IP code (protection against touching of live parts & access of solid items/bodies) will primarily be used to refer to the level of dust/debris protection of the light source in the housing (e.g. - some industrial & factory environments will have very high level of particulates)

The second digit of the IP code (protection against the harmful ingress of liquids) will be used to prevent the possibility of internal short circuiting of the light wiring & ballast by liquid - this is a possibility due to on-site industrial processes emitting liquid sprays or even cleaning routines which utilise water jets etc.


Interpretation of IP ratings for light fittings in real world conditions

Taking an example - a business has decided to install energy efficient industrial LED light fitting in order to save on energy costs and carbon emissions. They have both a factory & warehouse building which will be upgraded & presently have older 400 Watt metal halide high bay fixtures. How would the IP rating numbers indicate the necessary characteristics of the new LED fitting?


Definition of first 'IP' digit for the new light fitting

Digit Definition
0 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has no special protection
1 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection from solid objects greater than 50mm
2 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against objects greater than 12mm in diameter
3 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against objects with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more
4 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against objects 1mm in diameter
5 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against harmful dust
6 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture is totally dust tight

Definition of second 'IP' digit for the new light fitting

Digit Definition
1 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against dripping water
2 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against water droplets deflected up to 15° from vertical
3 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against spray up to 60° from vertical
4 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against water spray from all directions
5 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against low pressure water jets (all directions)
6 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture has protection against strong water jets
7 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture is protected against temporary immersion in water
8 The LED factory or warehouse lighting fixture is protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure

Interpreting the light fitting IP ratings

In the example above - the business has a production area in its factory which deals with food products - the warehouse is mainly for the storage of product packaging - specification of high bay LED light fittings to replace the existing metal halide lights could include:

  • LED high bay - IP20 rating - This LED high bay is only fitted with a basic top cover - this could be installed in dry & low-dust environments of the warehouse
  • LED high bay - IP54 rating - This LED high bay has a clear seal to provide basic protection against dust ingress and splashing water (but also to allow the emission & direction of light)- this may be more suitable than the IP20 fitting when the environment is likely to be damp or have airborne debris
  • LED high bay - IP67 rating - these light fittings would provide full protection for dust and water ingress via a seal or cover - this would be suitable for the food production area

Reference diagram - IP ratings

The diagram below shows the protection against water & dust in more visual detail:

"Lighting IP Ratings Reference Diagram"
Lighting IP ratings reference diagram

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