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What is the purpose of IP ratings?

The purpose of IP (Ingress Protection) ratings is to define the level of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures. IP ratings range from IP00 to IP68 and provide a standardised method for specifying the environmental protection of an electrical product.

Electrical fire

How can IP ratings help us to make informed purchases?

IP ratings can help you make informed purchases by providing information about the level of protection a device has against various environmental factors, such as dust and water. By understanding the IP rating of a product, you can determine its suitability for a specific environment and ensure that it will perform as expected. For example, if you are looking for an outdoor security camera, you would want to look for one with a high IP rating, such as IP66 or IP67, to ensure that it will be protected against rain and dust. Similarly, if you are looking for a smartphone, you might look for one with an IP68 rating, which means it is protected against dust and water and can be submerged in water for a short period of time. This information can help you make an informed decision and select the best product for your needs.

What are the benefits of IP ratings?

The benefits of IP ratings are:

  1. Standardisation: IP ratings provide a standardised method for specifying the level of protection a product provides against intrusion of solid objects, dust, accidental contact, and water. This allows for easy comparison of products and helps to ensure consistency across different manufacturers and products.
  2. Increased safety: IP ratings help ensure that electrical equipment is protected against environmental factors that could cause damage or pose a safety hazard. This can help to prevent electrical malfunctions, reduce the risk of fire, and improve overall safety.
  3. Better product selection: By understanding the IP rating of a product, it is possible to determine its suitability for a specific environment and make an informed decision when purchasing. This can help to ensure that the product performs as expected and meets the specific requirements of the application.
  4. Improved reliability: Products with higher IP ratings are typically more resistant to damage from environmental factors, such as dust, water, and impact. This can help to improve the reliability and lifespan of the product, reducing the need for repairs and replacements.
  5. Increased customer confidence: By providing information about the environmental protection of a product, IP ratings can help to increase customer confidence and trust in the product. This can help to build brand reputation and increase sales.

Camera in rain

What are the drawbacks of IP ratings?

There are a few drawbacks of IP ratings to consider:

  1. Limited scope: IP ratings only cover specific aspects of protection, such as the ingress of solid objects and liquids, but not all environmental factors such as electromagnetic interference, temperature, or impact resistance.
  2. Varying test methods: Different countries or regions may use different testing methods and standards, which can lead to inconsistencies in IP ratings across products.
  3. Misinterpretation: Some people may misunderstand or misinterpret the IP rating system, leading to incorrect assumptions about a product's level of protection.
  4. Not a guarantee: IP ratings are a useful tool for assessing a product's environmental protection, but they do not guarantee absolute protection. For example, an IP68-rated device may still be damaged if it is dropped or subjected to high levels of pressure.
  5. Cost: Implementing higher levels of protection may increase the cost of a product.

Despite these drawbacks, IP ratings remain a useful tool for making informed purchases, as they provide a standardised method for comparing the environmental protection of different products.

What are alternatives to using IP ratings?

  1. MIL-STD-810: The Military Standard 810 is a U.S. military standard that provides guidelines for the testing and evaluation of military equipment for its resistance to various environmental conditions.
  2. NEMA ratings: The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) provides a rating system for enclosures used in electrical equipment. The NEMA rating system covers environmental protection, impact resistance, and other factors, making it a more comprehensive alternative to IP ratings.
  3. UL ratings: Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a third-party testing organisation that provides environmental and safety ratings for products, including electrical equipment. UL ratings cover a wide range of factors, including water resistance, dust resistance, and impact resistance, making them a comprehensive alternative to IP ratings.
  4. Manufacturer specifications: Some manufacturers may provide their own specifications for environmental protection and resistance, which may be more specific or comprehensive than IP ratings.

Ultimately, the best approach to assessing environmental protection will depend on the specific needs and requirements of the application and the product being used. IP ratings remain a widely used and well-understood tool, but it may be necessary to consider alternatives or additional information to ensure that the right product is selected for a given application.

Military testing


IP (Ingress Protection) ratings are a standardised method of specifying the level of protection provided against solid objects, dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures. IP ratings offer benefits such as standardisation, increased safety, better product selection, improved reliability, and increased customer confidence. The drawbacks of IP ratings include limited scope, varying test methods, potential misinterpretation, not a guarantee of protection, and increased cost. Alternatives to IP ratings include MIL-STD-810, NEMA ratings, UL ratings, and manufacturer specifications. IP ratings remain a widely used and well-understood tool for assessing environmental protection in electrical products.

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