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IP Ratings Explained

The IP (Ingress Protection) rating of a bulb or fitting determines the level of protection it has against dirt and water. Any bulb that is to be used in a bathroom, garden, or any other wet environment should have a good IP rating.

It is made up of two digits. The first digit tells you how protected the bulb is against the ingress of dirt or foreign objects. The second number denotes how protected it is against the ingress of water. The higher the numbers, the better the rating.

Protection Against Foreign Objects

  1. Not Protected
  2. Objects >50mm. Any large surface, but not protected against deliberate contact
  3. Objects >12.5mm. Fingers or similar sized objects
  4. Objects >2.5mm. Tools, thick wires etc
  5. Objects >1mm. Most wires, screws etc
  6. Dust protected. Ingress of dust is not prevented, but should not affect operation
  7. Dust tight. Complete protection against contact

Water Protection

  1. Not protected
  2. Protected against dripping water
  3. Dripping water when object is tilted up at an angle of 15° from its normal position
  4. Spraying water, at any angle up to 60° from vertical
  5. Splashing water, from any direction
  6. Water jets from any direction
  7. Powerful water jets from any direction
  8. Protected when immersed in water up to 1m
  9. Protected when immersed in water beyond 1m

Choose the best IP rating

As an example, the highest IP rating a bulb could have would be 68. This would mean that it is completely waterproof and completely protected from the ingress of dust. An IP rating of 11 would mean that a lamp is barely protected at all. This level of protection wouldn’t be suitable for most bathroom or garden areas.

A bulb’s IP rating should be stated quite clearly on its specification and packaging. Bulbs without an IP rating should not be used in wet or dusty areas.

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