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What Are IP Ratings and What Do They Mean for Me?

ip rating on a mobile phone

March 5, 2019 by Chris Chapman

If you’re after a new radiator for your bathroom or a hand dryer for your office washroom, you’ve probably come across IP ratings before. However, as with most health and safety codes, what they actually mean is a bit obscure! That’s why we put together this quick jargon-busting guide to IP ratings. If you’re thinking of fitting something in your bathroom at home or at work, read on – this guide could make things much easier for you!

What Are IP Ratings?

bathrooms require appliances to be ip ratedIP stands for ingress protection, and it’s a way of measuring how well-sealed an electrical appliance is. Something with no IP rating might be vulnerable to splashing water and you may be able to poke tools or fingers into it. However, something with a very high IP rating might be protected against being completely submerged in water and fine dust. If you plan on using your appliance in a bathroom or outdoors, you’ll need to make sure it has the appropriate level of protection.

What Do the Numbers Mean?

IP ratings are displayed in the form of two numbers; for example, you might be shopping for a panel heater when you notice it’s rated IP24. Each number represents a different form of protection. The first number (in our example, a 2) represents how well-protected your appliance is against solid objects. The second (in this case, a 4) tells you how well-protected it is against moisture. The higher the number, the better protected it is.

Sometimes, you might see an IP rating with an X in it instead of the number – let’s say you find a hand dryer with the rating IPX2. The X means that it has no protection rating in that area. In our example, the hand dryer hasn’t been tested against solid objects but it has been tested against moisture. Bear this in mind if you’re looking for something you can use outdoors.

IP Ratings Explained

a hose spraying waterHere’s a handy list of what each number means so you can figure out the level of protection you’re getting.

First Number – Protection Against Solid Objects

  1. No protection
  2. Protection from objects larger than 50mm in diameter and large body parts (like a limb)
  3. Protection from objects larger than 12mm in diameter and shorter than 80mm in length. Also small body parts (like fingers)
  4. Protection against small tools and wires larger than 2.5mm in diameter
  5. Protection against anything larger than 1mm in diameter
  6. Protected against dust
  7. Total protection against fine dust

Second Number – Protection Against Moisture

  1. No protection
  2. Protection against condensation
  3. Protection against dripping water from above
  4. Protection against spray from above or from the side (up to an angle of 60° from vertical). This is the minimum requirement for appliances installed in a home bathroom
  5. Protection against spraying water from any direction
  6. Protection against a low-pressure water jet from any direction

Anything after this point is considered waterproof.

  1. Protection against a high-pressure water jet from any direction and against temporary immersion (30 minutes or less) at a depth of up to 1m
  2. Protection against temporary immersion in water at a depth of over 1m
  3. Protection against close-range, high-pressure, high-temperature water jets

What Level of Protection Do I Need?

patio heater must be IP65 ratedIf you know you aren’t going to be using your appliances outdoors or in bathrooms, you don’t really need something that’s IP rated at all. You certainly don’t need to splash out (no pun intended) on something with a very high IP rating as these are only designed for the most extreme situations. However, if you’re planning on installing a panel heater in your bathroom, you’ll need it to be IPX4-rated or above. This also applies to hand dryers or other electrical appliances that might be placed close to a sink in a commercial washroom. If you plan on placing your appliance outdoors – for example, if you spot a patio heater that you want to install – it’s wise to make sure it’s protected against dust as well as water. That means you should be looking at an IP65 rating at a minimum.

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