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IP ratings for LED lights

The Ingress Protection (IP) rating refers to the level of ‘sealing protection’ provided by the casing of lights. IP ratings are important in order to understand where a light bulb can be safely used. Using improperly rated light bulbs in places like the bathroom or outside can be dangerous as you could expose electrical components to damage and even risk electrocution.

Key points

How to read IP ratings

IP ratings exist to provide consumers with more detailed information than general terms such as “waterproof” and “dust-proof”.

The IP rating system begins with the letters IP and followed by two digits:

IP Ratings

IP

 

6

5

Ingress Protection Marking

 

SOLID Protection

WATER Protecion

What does IP stand for?

  1. The first digit refers to protection against penetration of solid objects ranging from fingers all the way down to dust.
  2. The second digit is used to tell you about the level of liquid protection. This can range from dripping water to continuous immersion.

Occasionally an X will be used – this means no protection against either solid (if it’s the first digit) or water (if it’s the second digit).

Understanding IP ratings

Solids (first digit)

RATING

SIZE OF OBJECT

LEVEL OF PROTECTION

1

Over 50mm in diameter

Protection from any large surface of a human body but not deliberate tampering or force.

2

Over 12.5mm in diameter

Protection from fingers or similar sized objects.

3

Over 2.5mm in diameter

Protection against tools, thick wires etc.

4

Over 1mm in dimeter

Protection against screws and most wires.

5

Dust protected

Protection against dust. The dust will need to enter the casing in large amounts to interfere with operation.

6

Dust tight

Impossible for dust to enter and interfere with operation.

Water (second digit)

RATING

DESCRIPTION

LEVEL OF PROTECTION

1

Dripping water

Protected from falling drops of water.

2

Dripping water when tilted up to 15o

Vertical dripping water causes no damage when fixture is tilted at an angle up to 15o from its usual position.

3

Spraying water

Protected from water falling as a spray at any angle up 60o.

4

Splashing water

Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction causes no damage.

5

Water jets

Water projected by a nozzle from any direction will not damage light.

6

Powerful water jets

Powerful jets from any direction will cause no damage.

7

Immersion up to 1 metre

Water will not infiltrate fixture when light is immersed in water up to 1m in depth and up to 1-hour immersion period (check manufacturer conditions first).

8

Immersion beyond 1 metre

The light fixture is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions specified by the manufacturer. This usually indicates the LED fixture is hermetically sealed (airtight) – however, some water may enter the fixture but won’t be detrimental to light function. 

The right IP rating for your needs

Different uses require different IP ratings. It’s important to think carefully about what kind of conditions your LED lights will have to endure, as this will affect the required IP rating. Generally, low IP ratings are completely fine for indoor use. Outdoor use will require a higher IP rating.

Low ratings

Lower IP ratings are only suitable for indoor use in places where there won’t be much exposure to water or dust. These are generally indoor living areas such as bedrooms, living rooms and offices. Most indoor lights have an IP rating of 22, which means they are suitable for indoor use and protected from prying fingers.

Medium ratings

A medium range IP rating that ranges between 44 to 65 is appropriate for indoor and outdoor use. With outdoor use, ensure the LEDs are in a sheltered location, protected from direct rainfall.

High ratings

Higher IP ratings will work best in areas that require lights to be exposed to debris, water and weather conditions. Floodlights, industrial and factory settings often require high IP ratings. If there is any potential for contact with dust or liquid, it’s best to stay on the safe side and choose a high IP rating.

IP ratings of 65 and above are safe to be considered weather-proof, suitable for outdoor use (and also great for bathrooms). Ensure you follow manufacturer guidelines when choosing your new light bulbs as slight variations in numbers can make a big difference.

The areas that require high IP ratings:

  • Unprotected outdoor locations
  • Wet areas (such as bathrooms)
  • Inside pools and showers etc.
  • Locations with exposure to excessive dust (building sites etc.)

Best LED for security

Security/floodlights need to be durable in order to protect them against extremities from weather. The higher the IP the better.

Recommended LED security light

Osram 50w LED Floodlight

Osram 50w LED Floodlight

4000k IP65 – Black

  • Great replacement for old halogen floodlights.
  • Perfect for areas like Car parks, Garages and construction areas.
  • Has a lifetime of 30,000 hours
  • IP65 rated

For more about LED floodlights, click here.

Best LED for the bathroom

Your bathroom is split in to three zones, with different IP ratings needed for each. The requirements for each zone are dependent upon the risk level of water touching the electrical supply.

Zone number

Area

Minimum IP required

0

Interior of bath tub or shower basin

IPX7

1

Directly above bath or shower cubicle

IPX5

2

The area just outside the shower/bath zone

IPx5

For areas outside of these areas, the usual interior rules of IP apply. When installing LED bathroom downlights, a medium IP rating is recommended. This gives the lights a higher resistance to steam.

Recommended Bathroom LED

SOLO All In One 10w LED Dimmable Downlight

SOLO All In One 10w LED Dimmable Downlight

Can be used in Zones 1 & 2 in bathrooms

Switchable colour temperature: 3000k, 4000k and 6000k.

IP65 rated meaning it can withstand steam and water splashes