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What is this IP rating really all about?

IP = Ingress Protection and the simple definition would be: A measure to how sealed a product is in terms of solids and liquids.
How does the IP code work?

The first digit indicates solids (or more correctly the size of it) and the second digit covers liquids(more specifically the how the liquid applied)

For your reference here is the table.

The European Standard BS EN 60529: Degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP Code)

First digit 2nd digit 3rd digit 4th digit

0 No protection

1 50mm Back of hand

2 12.5mm Finger

3 2.5mmTool

4 1.0mm Wire

5 Dust protected

6 Dust tight

 

0 No protection

1 Drips-vertical

2 Drips 15 degrees

3 Spraying

4 Splashing

5 Jets

6 Powerful Jets

7 Temporary immersion

8 Continuous immersion

 

A Back of hand

B Finger

C Tool

D Wire

 

H High voltage apparatus

M Motion during water test

S Stationary during water test

W Weather conditions

 

Note 1: In reality IPxx (only 2 characters e.g. IP65) is what you will find most of the time,  the last 2 digits only special occasions.

Note 2: Sometimes one of the first or second characters is not specified and an ‘X’ is used, e.g. ‘IP2X’.

Now, it is all good and well to understand the code…but what is the practical applications say for

building a panel or meeting a site specification…what’s an electrician to do about that?

Here is a deeper discussion on managing the IP rating.

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What does manufactureres say?

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