IP protection classes
Do you have equipment that has to withstand a rain shower? Or devices that mustn't lose their functionality even if they are exposed to very fine dust for a long time?
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What are IP ratings?
The IP ratings (International Protection or Ingress Protection) describe the degree to which devices are protected against the ingress of moisture / water and dust / foreign objects or against access.
This is particularly important for electrical and electronic devices that must not be damaged due to the environmental conditions at their locations, e.g. by short circuits after ingress of water. This is also to prevent endangering people.
What types of IP ratings are there?
Which IP rating does your device require?
The IP ratings, or IP codes, are each made up of two characteristic numerals that provide information about the extent to which the device is protected against harmful influences.
The combinations that result from the digits 1-6 (protection against ingress of foreign objects / dust and access) or 1-9 (protection against ingress of water) are precisely defined in the standards DIN EN 60529 and ISO 20653 (for road vehicles). The possible specifications range from IP00 to IP69 or IP6K9K (in accordance with ISO 20653).
The first digit provides information about the level of protection of the device against foreign bodies and contact, ranging from “no protection” (IP0X) to “protected against access with wire, dust-tight” (IP6X).
The second digit describes the degree of protection against moisture or the ingress of water. The protection here ranges from “no protection” (IPX0) to “protected against high-pressure and stream-jet cleaning” (IPX9).
Some devices and enclosures require either protection against foreign bodies / contact or against water, not a combination of both. In these cases, the unused digit is replaced by an X. This is the case for example with luminaires that are used in bathrooms, which require at least a rating of IPX4: “Protected against splash water.”
What does the K stand for in ratings?
In contrast to the IPX4 and IPX6 tests, the (K) indicates an additional requirement, usually appearing as increased pressure. IPX9 and IPX9K are carried out at high pressure and significantly increased water temperatures. This simulates, for example, the protection of an enclosure when a pressurised water surge occurs when driving through a puddle (IPX4K/IPX6K) or cleaning a vehicle with steam jets (IPX9/IPX9K).
These tests were originally developed in the automotive industry, but can be transferred to many everyday applications. For example, it makes sense to test an automatic parking meter or an e-bike parked at the side of the road according to IPX6K.
With the new equipment, we can also carry out the previously available tests faster and more flexibly.
So what is the difference between IPX9 and IPX9K?
The IPX9 protection class is tested according to DIN EN 60529 and applies to electrical devices, while IPX9K is tested according to ISO 20653 and refers to electrical devices that are mounted on road vehicles.
An IPX9 test requires the FORCE of a water jet to be measured during the water test, while an IPX9K test requires the PRESSURE of the water jet to be measured during the water test. In addition, the distance of the water jet nozzle for the IPX9 water test (200 mm) can be up to 50 mm further away compared to the IPX9K water test (150 mm maximum).
The tables below indicate the exact meaning of the respective digits.
Till Schwermer Till Schwermer
Head of Environmental
Phone: +49 (0)40 709 73 76 - 14
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Tests for protection against contact and foreign objects / dust
IP3X: Protected against access with tools (diameter ≥ 2.5 mm), protected against foreign objects with diameter ≥ 2.5 mm
IP2X: Protected against access with fingers, protected against foreign objects with diameter ≥ 12 mm
IP6X: Protection against access with wire, dust-tight
Different types of test dust can be used, for example talcum, Arizona dust or a mixture of Portland cement and fly ash.
Tests for protection against ingress of water
IPX4: Protected against splash water
IPX6: Protected against strong high-velocity water
IPX7 / IPX8: Protected against temporary immersion or continous submersion
IP high-pressure tests available now!
Starting right now, we can also offer you the IPX4K, IPX6K and IPX9K tests according to ISO 20653 as well as IPX9 test according to DIN EN 60529 in our laboratory.
We have modernised our equipment in the area of IP protection class testing: thanks to the newly installed state-of-the-art IP chamber, we can now offer you the complete range of IP tests.
Who needs IP ratings?
Electrical devices that are exposed to external influences must be protected against them so that they are not damaged. This ensures that for example lamps and electrical appliances function perfectly under all conditions.
The level and type of rating depend on the final location of the device. Bathroom lamps are more likely to need protection against the ingress of mist, while outdoor lamps need to withstand a rain shower.
What is the difference between ratings and protection classes?
In common parlance, people often say protection class, even though they mean rating. Protection class is a term from electrical engineering and describes the safety measures taken to prevent an electrical accident caused by electric shock.
Protection classes are specified in the EN 61140 VDE 0140-1 standard
In short, ratings define the level of protection against contact, foreign bodies and water. Protection classes describe the measures that protect against live voltages.
Examples: IP44, IP68
What does IP44 mean?
Lamps for use in the bathroom, the garden or the basement are particularly often provided with IP44. This means that the lamps are protected against access with tools and wires (diameter ≥ 1 mm). They can also tolerate water splashed from all directions. This does not mean they are waterproof, and they are not suitable for submersion, however, they are not damaged by splashed water.
What does IP68 mean?
A device with IP68 rating, on the other hand, is completely protected against access, dust-tight and also protected against the ingress of water if continuously submerged. An example of this rating is the iPhone 12, which according to the manufacturer is rated IP68 in accordance with IEC standard 60529 (up to 6 meters for up to 30 minutes).
What does IP69K stand for?
The 6 stands for “dust-tight”, and 9K denotes the “protection against ingress of water during high-pressure / steam cleaning”. This type of protection is used for high-pressure conditions or where temperatures act on material.
In addition to the IP ratings explained above, we can carry out further impermeability tests in our laboratories. Among other things, we can meet the standards MIL-STD-810 and RTCA DO-160. Moreover, we achieve greater immersion depths.
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