If you’ve ever needed to replace certain household electrical products, such as outdoor lighting or a lawnmower, it’s likely that you’ve come across a variety of IP ratings.
Some of the most common ratings include IP44 and IP65. These ratings indicate the products degree of safety in different environmental conditions. Choosing the correct level of ingress protection for your intended use is vital as incorrect specification could lead to power failure or electrical fires.
Here’s a quick explanation of the IP rating system, and the differences between an IP44 rating and an IP65 rating, to help you make a more informed decision in the buying process.
What is an IP rating?
An IP rating is a value given to an electrical device to indicate its level of resistance against hazards like solids and moisture. This is known as Ingress Protection – the higher the rating, the greater the level of ingress protection.
IP ratings typically consist of those two letters followed by two digits, such as IP44 or IP65. If there is no protection in one of the categories, that digit is typically replaced with an X.
The first digit in an IP rating indicates resistance against solid particles, such as dust:
- 0 – no protection
- 1 – protection against objects greater than 5cm/50mm in diameter (e.g. a hand)
- 2 – protection against contact with objects larger than 8cm/80mm long and 1.2cm/12mm in diameter (e.g. a finger)
- 3 – protection from objects greater than 2.5mm in diameter (e.g. tools or wires)
- 4 – protection against small invasive objects bigger than 1mm (e.g. screws, insects)
- 5 – partial dust protection (enough to prevent internal damage)
- 6 – total dust protection, 100% dust-free (usually includes a vacuum seal)
The second digit in an IP rating indicates resistance against liquid particles, such as water:
- 0 – no protection
- 1 – protection against vertical droplets for upright items
- 2 – protection against drops of water from up to 15° angles.
- 3 – protection against sprays of water droplets from up to 60° angles.
- 4 – protection against water splashes from any direction/angle
- 5 – protection against low-pressure water sprays from any direction/angle
- 6 – protection against powerful water jets from any direction/angle
- 7 – protection against full immersion for up to 30 minutes (at 15cm–1m depths)
- 8 – protection against extended immersion in water at greater depths
- 9 – protection against water ingress at high temperatures and high pressures
What does IP44 mean?
An IP44 rating indicates that the device is protected from solid particles which are 2.5mm or larger, and water splashes from any angle. It has sufficient protection against most solid objects and can withstand light moisture from all directions.
This means that IP44 devices are suitable for indoor use in drier areas. An IP44 rating indicates that the device is splashproof, but not waterproof – so it shouldn’t be exposed to heavy rainfall or immersed in water, or it’s likely to be damaged.
That said, you can use IP44 electrical devices, such as lights, outdoors or in rooms that may be steamy or damp sometimes, like bathrooms or kitchens. However, they should be sheltered against the weather by a canopy or other feature if outside, or only installed a certain distance away from sinks, showers, baths, or toilets inside.
What does IP65 mean?
An IP65 rating indicates that the device is completely protected against dust ingress and light sprays of water from any direction. It has a high level of protection against small particles and can resist low-velocity jets of water from all angles.
This means that IP65 devices are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use in situations where a greater level of resistance is required, but the device doesn’t need to be completely waterproof. This rating is suitable for outdoor lights that won’t be exposed to heavy downpours, and for indoor lights above sinks, baths, and showers.
However, the water resistance rating of 5 indicates that it is not safe to expose the electrical device to high-pressure jets of water or to submerge it completely. You would need a higher IP rating for pool lighting or pond lights, for example.
IP44 v IP65: which is better?
Whether IP44 or IP65 is the best option for you depends on the type of electrical device and where it would typically be installed. Generally, IP65 is the superior rating, offering greater protection against both dust and water ingress – but it would be unwise to pay more for a product with a higher rating if IP44 is sufficient for the application in question.
If the environmental demands are quite timid and you only require a low level of dust protection, then IP44 is typically fine. However, if your demands are more extreme and the environment presents dirt and moisture, you’ll need IP65 at the minimum. Zones that have potential for water immersion, on the other hand, will require higher ratings of at least IP67 or IP68.
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