What are light fitting IP ratings?

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 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 (some industrial 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, cleaning routines using water jets etc.


Tables of IP values for light fitting

Taking an example - an energy efficient industrial LED light fitting is to be used to replace a 400 Watt metal halide high bay fixture - how would the IP rating numbers indicate the characteristics of that light fitting?


Definition of first 'IP' digit for an LED industrial light fixture

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

Definition of second 'IP' digit for an LED industrial light fixture

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

Examples of required lighting IP ratings

  • Metal halide High bay with IP20 rating - only to be installed in dry & low-dust environments
  • Industrial LED high bay IP67 rating - full protection for dust and water ingress suitable for clean and sterile environments such as food production

Reference diagram

The diagram below shows this in more detail:

Lighting IP Ratings Reference Diagram
Lighting IP ratings reference diagram

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