A Guide to Selecting the Ideal IP Rating for Outdoor Application

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High-quality outdoor lighting is becoming more affordable thanks to LED tech and low-voltage light development. But you must select the IP ratings based on the application and installation. 

You might require different IP ratings based on the user’s location. This article will walk through the safest IP rating options based on applications.

What is an IP Rating & How it Works?

An IP rating is a lettering Internal or Ingress Protection mark. It features a two-digit grading system that applies to the enclosure of an electrical or mechanical item. The IP rating gives the customer an indication of the device’s resistance to unwanted intrusion. 

Intrusion protection has a threefold definition in the IP rating context. First, it defines the device’s resistance to moisture. It can also refer to the protection degree that the enclosure gives electric components against damaging foreign agents like dirt & dust. 

Thirdly, it can denote the protection level of electrical or mechanical parts to fingers and hands. But IP ratings differ slightly depending on where you shop or your location. Some regions, such as Europe, use the IEC standard 60509:1989. 

IP codes in Britain adhere to UK BS EN 60529:1992 certification, while international codes adhere to EN 60529 standards. The IP code has three numbers, with the first denoting protection against solids and the second indicating protection against liquids. 

How does it work? The manufacturer attaches the grading system to the electrical or mechanical item enclosure to show its resistance level. 

The measure for solid object protection ranges from 0 to 6, while the liquid protection level ranges from 0 to 9 based on immersion, exposure, pressures, depths, angles, and intensities. 

What Do IP Ratings Really Measure?

The IP rating denotes moisture ingress resistance, foreign solid particle ingress resistance, and accidental user impact resistance. Generally, the system consists of two digits and a letter indicating particular testing scenarios, hazards, or materials.

The typical IP rating on your devices is similar to format ‘IP43’, ‘IP67’. It may sometimes feature an extra letter appended at the IP rating end.

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This extra digit indicates whether the device is certified for resistance to particular hazards, materials like high voltages & oil, or certain instances where this IP testing level is necessary. Nonetheless, the third digit is rare in devices for daily applications.

What do the Numbers Mean?

The higher the Ingress Protection number, the better the resistance from foreign particles. If the number after the IP is X, it indicates the device does not have the specification rate yet. 

For example, IPX6 denotes the protection level against high-pressure water jets flowing from any direction. Meanwhile, IP6X denotes no dust ingress or complete dust protection.

Solids – IP65 = First Digit

IP first digit denotes the enclosure protection against foreign objects & particles like fingers, tools, or dust that could damage the interior. It is suitable for blocking solid ingress for the enclosure’s electrical circuitry, parts, and components.

The first level size for this category is X, which implies no data available for specifying the IP rating in this case. The second level is 0, which is ineffective for protection against any object ingress or contact. 

Level 1 features 2.0 inches that suit application for large body surfaces like the back of the hand. However, this level does not protect against deliberate body part contact. Level 2 features 0.49 inches that suit protection from objects like fingers. 

In the meantime, level 3 has 0.098 inches, which suits thick wires and tools. Level 4 features 0.039 inches that protect devices against large ants, slender screws, and most wires. First digit level 5 IP rating suits dust protection but does not entirely prevent the device from ingress. 

But it is sufficient enough to enable it to prevent dust penetration from interfering with the equipment operation. 

Most importantly, level 6 is dust-tight because it does not allow any level of dust penetration. It provides maximum dust protection with a vacuum and test duration based on the airflow.

Second Digit for Liquids (IP65)

The second IP rating digit denotes the enclosure protection level for internal components against all moisture forms and processes like submersion, drips, or sprays. But Level X & Level 0 offer infective protection since they imply no info available to help specify the rating based on the typical criteria.

Meanwhile, Level 1 protects the device from dripping water, dropping vertically to ensure no harmful impact occurs on your device. But you must mount it in the proper position by rotating it at 1 RPM and placing it in an upright position. Its Watt range is about 1mm per minute in rainfall for a 10 minutes test duration.

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Level 2 can protect your devices from dripping water if you tilt it at 15 degrees. Tilting the device at this position will have no negative impact from vertically dripping water. It offers protection against up to 3 mm per minute and four positions within two axes.

Level 3 can protect the electronics from sprays of falling water at up to 60 degrees angle from the vertical. In any case, the protection test uses a spray nozzle or an oscillating device with a counterbalanced protector. You can conduct the first test using a shield for about five minutes.

The second test occurs within five minutes by rotating it b 90 degrees horizontally. Generally, the first test using an oscillating tube lasts one minute with a 0.07 liter per hole for every minute.

Level 4 suits protection against water splashing from any direction to safeguard the device from adverse impacts. It utilizes either a spray nozzle for at least five minutes without the shield or an oscillating fixture for about 10 minutes.

Level 5 works perfectly for water jet protection. The test involves a nozzle to project water jets against the enclosure to design it so that it has no negative impacts from the water jets. It can resist up to 30 kPa pressure using 12.5 liters of water for at least three minutes from a 3 meters distance.

In the meantime, Level 6 suits powerful water jets of up to 12.5mm against the device cover from any direction. It can resist water jets from a 3 meters distance at 100 kPa pressure for 100 water liters per minute for 3 minutes. On the other hand, Level 6K suits high-pressure water jets.

Level 6K withstands 6.3mm powerful water jets at a high pressure from all directions. This resistance works at up to 3 meters distance, 1,000 kPa pressure, and 75 liters water volume for at least three minutes. Thus, it secures the device from harmful high-pressure water impact. 

Level 7 suits applications that involve up to 1-meter immersion depth. The enclosure safeguards the device against harmful water ingress under the defined time, submersion depth, and pressure. The test duration for this level is about 30 minutes at about 150 mm to 1,000mm below the water surface.

In the meantime, level 8 works best for applications with more than a 1-meter immersion depth. Although the manufacturer must specify the features, the device can suit applications with continuous water immersion. 

Nonetheless, certain equipment categories may allow safe water penetration. Environmental effects, test duration, and temperature cycling impact its IP rating. Level 9K suits high-temperature liquid jets with powerful pressure. 

It can protect electronics against high temperature, high pressure, and close-range spray downs. It has smaller specimens that rotate on a turntable at four angles. The test duration for this case is 30 seconds for each angle at 80 °C water temperature, 8 to 10 MPa pressure level, and 14 to 16 water liters per minute.

Supplementary Information – IP65? = Third Digit

Apart from the IP rating tables, it utilizes several letters to provide extra details about the enclosure. The info may include device protection specifics using several IK letters. 

The third digit on an IP rating denotes the letter at the IPXX code end. It is a supplementary letter that denotes additional info about the product standard. 

They include W for weather conditions, S for ongoing water protection tests, M for moving device water tests, H for high voltage electronics, and F for oil resistance.

Minimum IP rating for outdoor use

Outdoor conditions determine the minimum IP rating for the application. The requirements for the equipment vary from a covered location to a partially enclosed application. The minimum IP rating choices for such applications include:


IPX3 provides adequate protection for light systems or speakers that work in a covered location or partially enclosed area.


IPX4 is the typical minimum protection rating for devices under more exposed spaces. Thus, it suits speakers or light for outdoor applications.


IPX5 can be the ideal minimum IP rating for uses that involve a pressure washer cleaning up the device. Yet, checking out the manual guide for additional rules is vital.

IP Rating Chart

Summary Chart

First IP Digit Protection from Solid Ingress Second IP Digit Protection from Liquid Ingress
0 -NA 0 -NA
1 -Solid over 50mm 1 -Vertically falling drops
2 -Solid over 12mm 2 -Direct sprays at up to 15 °
3 -Solid over 2.5mm 3 -Direct sprays at up to 60 °
4 -Solid over 1mm 4 -All directions splashes
5 -Dust ingress protection 5 -Low-pressure jets
6 -Maximum dust protection 6 -Strong water jets
NA NA 7 -Temporary immersion (15 cm – 1m in 30 min)
NA NA 8 – Long pressure immersion periods


Mechanical Impact IP Rating Classification

IP rating can also feature another number specifying the device’s mechanical impact resistance level. It gives the mechanical rating system a unique code by including it in the IP code. The latter starts with IK and adds two digits afterward. 

They come in various categories, including IK00, which has no complete test. IK01 has 0.15 joules of impact energy that delivers 200g through a 7.5cm space. IK02 features 0.2 joules or 200g through a 10cm space, IK03 has 0.35 joules of impact energy or 200g through a 17.5cm space, and IK04 for 0.5 joules or 200g through a 25cm space.

IK05 has 0.7 joules or 200g through a 25cm space, IK06 with 1-joule impact energy or 500g through a 35cm space, and IK07 for 2 joules or 500g through a 20cm space. 

Meanwhile, the IK08 features 5 joules of impact energy or 1.7kg through a 29.5cm space, IK09 has 10 joules or 5kg through a 20cm space, and IK10 with 20 joules of impact energy or 5kg through 40cm space.

Why is an IP Rating Important for Outdoor Applications?

The IP rating is vital in selecting the apt packaging machine, especially in the food industry. But what makes it so important?

Wet Environments

What challenges can you encounter packaging snacks or coffee in a dusty environment? The dust it emits during the process can result in havoc for exposed pneumatic and electronic devices in the packaging process. 

The air conditioner can be an effective option for dust control in the room. However, dust can penetrate enclosures with improper seals. 

A first-digit IP rating of 5-6 is suitable for such applications. Since such applications do not involve waterproof concerns, the second-digit rating may not be necessary.

Dusty Environments

Food packaging procedures need the maximum protection level from liquids agents like cleaning solutions & water. Most packaging food products machines for stick candy, meat, and cheese require regular cleaning. 

Thus, it is critical to rate the packaging machinery to withstand the liquid you use in cleaning. The second figure IP rating for this use can range from 5 to 8. On the other hand, the first figure rating might be insignificant for this application. 

Nonetheless, you need a 55 to 68 IP rating, where the use involves harsh wash-down and dust particles. A good example is in water jets.

IP Rated Applications

Weatherproof IP ratings

A weatherproof or waterproof IP rating is a typical consideration when selecting Bluetooth speakers, CCTV enclosures, lighting setups, and bathroom & kitchen fixtures. Thus, the second digit in the IP code denotes the precise protection level against moisture ingress. 

The ideal IP ratings for waterproof equipment in general use include IP67, IP66, and IP65. However, it is a misconception thinking that devices for long-duration outdoor uses need the highest IP rating to denote the best protection level against liquids. This belief is not always the case. 

The truth is that rainwater tends to fall under low pressure and almost vertically, even in windy weather. In other words, the IPX2 rating can work best for protection against dripping liquids at 3 mm per minute and up to a 15 degrees angle. 

Meanwhile, an IPX3 can fit protection against continuous 60-degree vertical spray. Most importantly, you do not need higher IP ratings for outdoor applications. IPX7 and above suit applications that involve immersion. 

IP rated Enclosures & Accessories

While many IP rating systems and housing configurations options exist, quality IP-rated enclosure accessories can be an extra fitting. The supplements have features that mirror the enclosures. In any case, they feature various specializations and tweaks with designs for generic enclosures.

The designs may vary based on application types, enclosure contents, additional security features, attachment methods, and component-specific solutions. Typical examples include self-adhesive feet, stability accessories, keypads, keys, locks, drivers, racks, panels, nuts, screws, and brackets.

Various IP-rated enclosure designs are available in numerous industries and sectors like mechanical systems and electronics for both industrial & home settings. 

IP rating enclosures suit functions like bathroom lights, outdoor lighting setups, chemical environments, marine applications, and junction boxes. Thus, determining the IP rating that suits your application is critical.

IP Ratings for Lights

IP ratings are vital in choosing industrial and home outdoor light setups, installation, and design planning. It is crucial in areas like outdoor lighting, kitchens, and bathrooms. It helps to protect your tools against moisture & particulate ingress. 

Although most tools use the same IP definitions and numbers, considering your location can impact the IP requirements. Uses include garden lights, patio, deck, security lighting, and submerged lights.

Electrical IP Ratings

IP definition and numbers on electronics follow the same coding system for easy underrating and clarity. But it is critical to closely monitor the IP ratings on enclosures components since more resistance is necessary for devices you use under many potential exposure agents.

If an electronic device has moisture or particulate ingress, it is liked to increase hazard risk or get damaged. You must monitor other minor factors such as chemical attacks, corrosion, accumulating dust, steam, and condensation. The impact might be worse for applications in industrial environments.

IP Ratings for Bathrooms

You can categorize bathrooms into various IP rating zones based on varied regulatory criteria & specifications for each group. For instance, Zone 0 denotes the use area inside the shower or bath, such as a Jacuzzi lighting and tray-level cubicle lights. Zone 0 devices must be IP67 rated or more for low voltage uses and full immersion.

Zone 1 shows bathroom parts directly above the shower or bath to up to 2.25 meters from the floor level. The zone can include ceiling or wall downlights within the vertical shower perimeter. For instance, IP45 can be the technical minimum suitable resistance, but IP65 is more typical for these applications.

Zone 2 can denote a 60cm radius from the shower or bath where the splash-proof IP44 rating is the minimum option. Besides, you would like to clean up the bathroom so IP65 devices can combat the water jets.


Checking the IP rating is critical to promote your device’s durability. Besides, outdoor and similar applications that expose the device to agents that could damage it call for extra protection. Thus, the IP rating will guide you. 

But you must get products from the best manufacturers to ensure that their IP rating information is truthful. NSELED CLOUD values durability and efficiency across all products they sell. What’s more, they will connect you to experts for informed decisions. 

Why Does an Outdoor Light Require an IP Rating?

Unlike indoor lighting systems, outdoor lights combat immense external objects and substances. Therefore, adequate protection is vital for safety, preventing damage, and protecting the user from electric injury and shock.

Besides, outdoor lights can contact various external objects like wiring, dirt, tool accidents, dust, deliberate tampering, wildlife activity, and accidental touch. Other worrying factors include water submersion, wind, and rain.

These agents combine to cause malfunctioning and damage in outdoor lighting without the apt protection control levels. For instance, a typical path light requires sufficient protection against moderate water and physical force contact. Depending on IP ratings, a swimming pool or pond light requires maximum protection for submersion.

Why Do Some Light Have IP Ratings Listed While Others Don’t?

The IP ratings matter since they suit the usability to boost durability and reduce failures. This knowledge will rescue you from potentially costly repairs and frustration. 

Besides, it can guide contractors and installers to deliver excellent results. Top manufacturers mark the ratings on the package and provide a suitable warranty period. 

Devices without IP ratings might be awaiting ongoing testing, or the manufacturer might not provide the details. Above all, IP ratings can be handier in dire applications like swimming pools and street lights.

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