You may have noticed when shopping for lights a rating called an “IP rating”, and wondered what it is, and more importantly, whether it is relevant to your intended use for your lights?
The short answer? Yes, it is important to have a basic understanding of IP rating when it comes time to select your light fittings, particularly if you are choosing fittings for the exterior of your home, or any interior wet areas.
What is IP rating?
The IP rating, or ingress protection rating, of your light fitting refers to how protected your light is to solid foreign objects or water penetrating the fitting itself. In simple terms, it is an indicator of how well protected your light fitting is from external influences.
Measure of IP rating?
An IP rating is usually a two digit rating appearing as, IP65 or IP44 for instance.
The first digit in an IP rating refers to the level of protection against solid foreign objects. For light fittings, this most commonly refers to things like dirt or dust. While, the second digit refers to the level of protection against water intrusion.
The digits for each are scaled from 0 to 6 for object protection, and 0 to 8 for water protection. The higher the digits, the more protected your light fitting is.
The tables below provide an overview of this scale.
Measure of Water Ingress
Measure of Solid Object Ingress
So, if you have an IP rating of IP65 for instance, your light fitting has complete protection from contact and dust ingress, as well as protection from water ingress projected by a nozzle.
You may come across an IP rating presented as say IPX4. In this instance, it means that the fitting has only been rated for one of the ingress types. In the case of IPX4, it has been rated 4 for water ingress protection only, and not been given a rating for solid foreign objects.
Why is IP rating important?
In terms of light fittings, the IP rating is important for several reasons. It might be that your light fittings are required to meet codes and regulations depending on where you reside, and where your light fittings are to be installed.
The IP rating of a light fitting allows you to better define more generalised terms, like “waterproof” or “water resistant”, so that you can select appropriate fittings with confidence. This is particularly important when selecting light fittings for the exterior of your home, or wet spaces within your home, such as the bathroom, laundry or kitchen.
IP rating for exterior lights
Assessing the IP rating of exterior lighting is crucial to safety and proper functioning of your light fitting. Why? Because your home’s exterior lights are constantly exposed to the elements, whether that be dust, dirt or water.
As a general rule of thumb, select light fittings that have an IP65 rating for external use. This will provide full protection against dust and other more solid elements, as well as a high level of water ingress.
Obviously, there are some exceptions to the rule. For instance, a fitting with an IP54 rating may be suitable for external areas that are undercover, and not so subjected to the elements. On the flip side of that, if you are installing pool lights, you will need to select light fittings with an IP67 or IP68 rating that will provide water ingress protection up to 1m and beyond.
IP rating for bathroom lights
Lighting your bathroom can be a little more tricky, as your bathroom is generally split into zones, with each zone requiring a minimum IP rating for water ingress protection. The most common of these zones for lighting consideration are Zone 1 and Zone 2.
Zone 1 includes any vertical space above the bath, and the vertical space above the shower, both up to 2.5m above the floor. For this zone, you will need a minimum IPX4 rating. While this is the minimum recommendation, it would be wise to stick with an IPX5 rating here, as these areas, while not submerged, are likely to get quite wet.
Zone 2 includes the space up to 0.6m outside the bath, shower or sink areas, up to 2.25m above the floor. For these areas, you will, again, need a minimum IPX4 rating.
Anything outside these zones, except of course areas where lighting is required to be fully submerged, are generally not given a minimum IP recommendation, as they sit outside the “wet areas”. Having said that, for any space in your home where your light fittings will be subject to condensation and steam, we would suggest a minimum IPX4 rating.
IP rating for kitchen and laundry lights
While less prone to water intrusion, your kitchen and laundry light fittings can also be subject to steam, condensation, splashes and even intrusion from solid foreign objects like dust.
Like any space in your home, the IP rating required depends on where you intend to install your light fitting. A light above a sink or stove, for instance, would need an IP44 rating or above to protect against moisture and dust buildup, whereas a light hung over your kitchen bench or table, would only require an IP20 rating.
As a general rule of thumb, an easy way to determine the suitability of your light fitting for it’s intended installation is to remember that light fittings that have an IP44 or above rating are generally designed for outdoor or wet area use (remembering to consider positioning and installation as already noted). And, on the flip side of that, a light fitting that does not have an IP rating listed as part of it’s features is likely to be designed for indoor use only (again remembering to consider it’s installation into internal wet areas).
If you still need a little help working out the suitability of a light fitting based on it’s IP rating, or what minimum IP ratings you should be considering, you can chat to one of our lighting experts. We can help you cut through the IP speak and find the right light fitting for your needs.