Ingress Protection (IP Ratings)

The IP Code, International Protection Marking is a standard published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as IEC standard 60529. Sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking, classifies and rates the degree of protection of an enclosure or mechanical casings provided against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water.

We have all seen IP Ratings on a variety of equipment from electrical motors to mobile handsets. Whether we are designing a Telecom Network or just selecting electrical wiring sockets for our house we should be aware of the IP rating of the particular equipment so that we may select the right item for a specific environment. It is often seen that very little is known about the purpose and importance of this Code engraved on the products. The following article aims at providing useful information about what IP rating is and how it can help you select better products for your systems, as well as the type of application environment you are working with. The agenda is to understand the purpose and importance of IP Ratings while designing systems and acquiring the right kinds of components that make up the system.

IP Rating

IP 55 Rating Found on a Motor Nameplate

About the IP Code

The IP Code or the Ingress Protection rating essentially describes the levels of protection of a particular enclosure, provided to the system or a device’s interior from the effects of solid and liquid infiltrations. The IP rating determines how well the product is guarded against the entry of external objects into the system, and how well a particular product is going to function in application environment. The IP Ratings, usually in the form of a code, are easily defined and these are very simple to measure and understand.

Ingress Protection rating is an International Standard, which means if you are purchasing the product in any part of the world you should be certain of what you are getting.

The Purpose of Ingress Protection Rating

The journey of a product from the manufacturing unit to the shelf space that it occupies in the market is not as simple as it may appear. Products either big or small indoor or outdoor equipment everything has to undergo a series of several tests like design testing, safety testing, functionality testing and compliance testing, before they could finally make it to the market. A very important and crucial test that many products (especially the electrical products) have to pass is the Ingress Protection Testing/ Rating.

So when a system is designed or components that go into a system are selected it is pivotal to make sure that they are reliable, they have a long life and they are appropriate for the application environment. In order to assess a product’s reliability and conformity it needs to be evaluated for resistance against dust, water, moisture, chemicals and other infiltrations etc, but this cannot be done without quantifying these requirements. This is what the IP Ratings helps with; it provides us with quantified details of description.

Deciphering the IP Code – What does the number means?

The Ingress Protection Code is usually given in the following form:

IP XL

  • The X indicates the level of protection against the entry of harmful solid objects (dust particles, tools, fingers, hands etc)
  • The Y indicates the enclosure’s level of protection against harmful entry of liquids (water, mist, splashes etc)

 

Products that Need Ingress Protection Testing

Many electrical enclosures require insulation from foreign objects like water, oil, steam, mist, dust, moisture, ice, chemicals, splash, tools, fingers etc, in order to function optimally in their application field and environment. So pretty much all of the electrical enclosures or systems consisting of electrical components need to be tested and rated for Ingress Protection. The IP Code on a product is the determinant that indicates that a product has been tested for compliance and level of resistance against Ingression, and therefore meets the requirements to function appropriately in its application field or environment. Higher number of IP Code/ rating that the label of a product or equipment bears shows the severity of the test it has been put through in order to verify its compliance and conformity, and protection against maximum possible Ingress.

The type of Ingress Protection an electrical enclosure requires depends upon the type of application field the product would be set to function. For example the Crane Positioning Monitor requires a decoder that can tolerate the harsh conditions of the external environment such rain, snow, moisture, dirt etc. Because that is the application environment for the cranes and the Crane Positioning Monitors.

So technically the IP Rating for a decoder like this should be something like:

IP 68

Similarly in an assembly line you would install electrical components considering the environment of the manufacturing unit. For instance you would require enclosures with better IP rating against fine particles of dust and residue, water, chemicals, hands, tools etc. The IP Code for such electrical components may be:

IP 66

How Products are tested for Ingress Protection?

Generally the ingress protection testing is divided into two types:

  1. Ingress from solid foreign objects
  2. Ingress from liquids

The levels of severity, and the type of Ingress Protection testing required entirely depends on the type of the electrical enclosure as well as the nature of its application environment.

Usually the products are tested at the seams, or the connecting point that joins two more parts together, in order to check dust and water ingress. These are the sites where it is very easy for the dust particles and moisture and water droplets to enter, and adversely affect the performance and functionality of a product. Usually the makers of the products make sure to seal all these joints and seams with the help of gaskets, but sometimes the flexible gaskets leave gaps in the seal allowing the objects from the external environment to find their way into the inside of the product. So in order to test the products for Ingression protection from dust and liquids, the products are tested in a highly controlled lab with calibrated equipment such as the immersion tanks etc where the products are blown with sand or dust, submerged into immersion tanks and exposed to high pressure steam and water sprays.

Many products and equipments are also tested and checked for pressure differentials. It is very likely for electrical items and enclosures to change their internal pressure when they come in contact with water. In such case it is tested if proper material has been used in the product to vent pressure differentials.

Solids (First Digit)

Level Object size protected against Effective against
0 Not protected No protection against contact and ingress of objects
1 >50mm Any large surface of the body, such as the back of the hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part.
2 >12.5mm Fingers or similar objects.
3 >2.5mm Tools, thick wires, etc.
4 >1mm Most wires, screws, etc.
5 Dust Protected Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment; complete protection against contact.
6 Dust Tight No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact.

Liquids (Second Digit)

Level Object size protected against Effective against
0 Not protected
1 Dripping water Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmfull effect.
2 Dripping water when tilted up to 15° Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.
3 Spraying water Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.
4 Splashing water Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
5 Water jets Water projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6 Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
7 Immersion up to 1m Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).
8 Immersion beyond 1m The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Normally, this will mean that the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.

 

Motor Data

IP 54 Rating found on Sample Three Phase Motor

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