Understanding IP Standards

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IP RATING BASIC

A Two-digit number established by the international electro technical commission’s (IEC) IEC 60529 is used to provide an Ingress protection rating to a piece of electronic equipment or to an enclosure for electronic equipment

The first numeral describes the protection provided against solid foreign objects, while the second refers to the type of protection against the penetration of liquid

Protecting your products

  • Product failures in the field are a burden to any manufacturer or vendor, which not only compromise product function and create client frustration, but can result in costly failure investigations and maybe the need to redesign the product.
  • These factors add additional costs in time and money with reworking the product on the drawing board, adjustments in the manufacturing process, new tooling and reprogramming production line equipment and even the need for a product re-evaluation if it carries third part validations.
  • The cost of your recall or corrective actions will also need to be factored in – that is the logistics of collecting failed products, repairing or replacing them and reissuing them to clients.
  • Disgruntled customers may also defer to alternative brands and new customers may opt not to buy from you after all. The impact of all these factors can mean the long term costs of a field failure can spiral out of control.

What It All Means

Ingress means “to enter,” thus Ingress Protection is protection against things entering a product’s enclosure—specifically in this case, solids (aka “dust;” that’s the first number) and water (the second number). A rating of IP67 means it’s a 6 against dust, and a 7 against water.
Solids are measured on a scale of 0 to 6, where 6 is the best shielding you can get. Water, however, is measured 0 to 9. That’s why something that is listed as IP67 can say “dust-tight” but only “water-resistant.”

IP Rating Chart (First Number) Moisture (Second Number)
IP 0x – No Protection IP x0 – No Protection
IP 1x – Objects ≥ 50mm IP x1 – Vertically Dripping Water
IP 2x – Objects ≥ 12mm IP x2 – 15 Degrees Tilt Dripping Water
IP 3x – Objects ≥ 2.5mm IP x3 – Sprayed Water
IP 4x – Objects ≥ 1mm IP x4 – Splashed Water
IP 5x – Dust Protected IP x5 – Water Jets
IP 6x – Dust Tight IP x6 – Powerful Water Jets
IP x7 – Effects of Immersion
IP x8 – Indefinite Immersion
IP x9 – High pressure, high temperature
water jetting

Why protect against foreign objects?

  • In design we strive to achieve a product that can perform as expected in the user’s environments, but all materials we work with have a natural weakness, be it thermal, climatic, mechanical or relating to the light spectrum.
  • One of a designer’s key goals is to stop external contaminants from damaging their carefully designed devices, avoiding effects such as shorting out electrical circuits or prohibiting mechanical moving parts from seizing when they become clogged with dust or grit.
  • Encasing the device within an enclosure assists the protection of the product, but how well this case protects the product is defined by the standard BS EN 60529, (Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures IP Code) for standard enclosures or BS EN 60598 for luminaires devices.
  • Safety is also an important issue, providing a guard or boundary that prevents contact by even the smallest finger from touching live parts, chemical compounds or mechanical moving mechanisms hazards.
  • We also have a responsibility to protect local wildlife. A small gap in your outer casing will allow insects, arachnids and bugs to find into an area safe from larger predators. They can short out circuits and cause irreparable damage. One insect may not be seen as a big issue, but what if the enclosure is inhabited by a swarm of bees or colony of ants.
  • For these reasons your choice of enclosure needs to be carefully thought over and the IP rating set accordingly. The IP standards cover ingress probe tests, dust and water ingress verification methods.

What are the test levels?

  • The most used ingress protection test levels are defined in the BS EN 60529, this is generally used for cases, BS EN 60598 covers Luminaries and IEC 60950 part 2 for Information Technology outdoor equipment. Although the 60598 and 60950 both reference the 60529 standard, they differ in either test duration or operational requirements.
  • The 60529 standard will direct you to what each level represents with the first characteristic testing the ability for solid objects to penetrate the case. This starts with IP0X that shows no protection at all, IP1X ensuring nothing under 50mm can access the enclosure to IP4X where this is reduced to a 1mm test probe. Be aware that this is looking for more than just testing with a probe of a particular size but also requires consideration of a complex manner of motion for entering your device. An interpretation of this is to think of a maze, a test probe cannot enter and exit with an obstruction, however a maze can be navigated and thus enter and exit the other side of the maze. This clause is to cover the ingress of animals into the internal area.
  • What is the second numeral in an IPXX rating? This is for water ingress, again IPX0 is for a non-protected device, IPX1 in the BS EN 60529 standard covers the unit in a 1mm per minute vertically falling water test, to IPX6 where the water is in a high flow rate of 100 litres per minute through a nest nozzle. These change from time to time so always refer to the latest standard for the procedure and test level

What test levels do I require?

Your selection of testing levels may already be defined by your client, however if this is not the case then you will need to select the rating that best covers the environment that your product will be used within
For example: –

  • Paint pots
  • Internal Transformers
  • Dive watches

Why is an IP rating important?

When a manufacturer desires an IP Rating for their product, they must have it tested by an independent and certified company. That company assigns a numerical IP Rating to the product to signify how well the item protects against intrusion of solids and liquids.
Having a certified IP Rating means manufacturers can confidently make product claims about the level of protection their product provides. It legitimizes the item, offering assurance to the customer that they can determine if a product meets their needs.
Additionally, a user of IP Rated equipment is fully aware of its protective measures (or lack of), so they can work more safely, with less risk of injury to themselves or damage to the equipment.

Facts about Ingress Protection Rating

Ingress Protection Rating:Ingress protection also called as ignorance pass is very important since the product goes through many challenging circumstances. Ingress protection (IP) is the rating or the degree of protection given to the enclosure

Benefits of Using IP Codes

An electronic product manufacturer is benefited by going through these different IP ratings. Before the development of any electronic device, he should be acquainted with the IP ratings. He will be able to modify the products as much as he can to prevent the entry of ingress materials. He can do better per-workouts based on IP rating guidelines.

Weatherproof & waterproof IP ratings

  • A ‘waterproof’ or ‘weatherproof’ IP rating is one of the most frequent examples people look for in a wide range of everyday products, from mobile phones and Bluetooth speakers to kitchen and bathroom fixtures, lighting setups, CCTV enclosures and more.
  • Again, it’s worth noting that to use terms like ‘waterproof’ when discussing IP ratings can actually be somewhat self-defeating – the very reason IP ratings exist, in fact, is to more clearly define the exact parameters of potentially vague marketing claims. As such, the second digit in a typical IP code indicates a precise level of protection against moisture ingress under specific test scenarios.
  • The ratings widely accepted as ‘waterproof’ for most general purposes are IP65, IP66 and IP67. However, one common misconception regarding weatherproofing is that items intended for prolonged outdoor use require the highest numerical IP ratings for moisture resistance.
  • This isn’t always the case since most rainwater – even in windy conditions – tends to fall relatively close to vertical, and under very low pressure. An IPX2 rating should protect against dripping water equivalent to 3 mm rainfall per minute at angles up to 15°, while IPX3 indicates resistance to continuous spray at up to 60° from vertical.
  • In addition, it isn’t strictly accurate to think of IP ratings for water resistance as being ‘higher’ beyond IPX6: be aware that IPX7, IPX8 and IPX9 are codes specifically addressing immersion properties, and that items certified at these ratings need not necessarily meet the criteria for pressurised water jet resistance denoted by IPX5 and IPX6.

Conclusion:

  • The effects of continuous exposure to weather and the environment are difficult to evaluate, and therefore the choice of material for the enclosure is important. This paper does not include any guidance for the selection of enclosure materials. It should be noted that IP ratings are for ingress only, and that tests are comparative and are conducted with fresh water. Therefore, they in no way indicate the enclosure’s ability to withstand the effects of corrosion from salt water, chemicals, acid rain and other special environments as well as the normal expected weather conditions. Thus, we need to consider both the material and the finish as important factors.
  • The adoption of this IP classification system, wherever possible, will promote uniformity in methods of describing the protection provided by the enclosure and in the tests to prove the various degrees of protection. It should also reduce the number of types of test devices necessary to test a wide range of products