IP ratings

What are IP Ratings: (Buyers Guide) Be in the Know and Save Money

What are IP Ratings: (Buyers Guide) Be in the Know and Save Money

What are IP ratings? Knowing what IP ratings are and their unique properties are essential when purchasing specialist electronic equipment. Not only does the IP rating signify what tool to use for the job, but it will also save you a pocketful of cash in the process.

More importantly, whether you are using coolants or working in dusty environments, purchasing a piece of equipment with the correct level of IP rating ensures your equipment is suitable for your use and your working environment.

In this article, we discuss all the specifics of IP rating in detail… So, let’s jump right in!

1. What are IP Ratings?

If dust or moisture enters an electrical device, it can prevent it from working properly, causing inaccurate readings or even damage it beyond repair. This happens when the enclosure, housing the electrical components is not completely sealed. This means your device will not offer full protection against small particles such as dust and water droplets, which is especially problematic for maintaining accuracy for precision measuring devices.

IP rating (Ingress Protection rating) is an international standard given to electrical equipment to signify how well electronic devices perform under certain environmental conditions. More specifically, it details how effective your items enclosure protects against the intrusion of all kinds of solid foreign bodies and moisture (such as dust and liquid).

The good news is that any device with an IP rating has gone through a series of tests to gain a number that details the level of protection it provides. In Section 3, you will see how these numbers demonstrate the amount of protection your device gives you…

2. Why is IP Rating Important?

IP rating is important as it is a standardised reference for the protection levels of all electronic devices that are sealed against dust and liquid.

A standardised protection rating system ensures people have confidence in the rating of the equipment they are purchasing. They know it will perform to a defined standard that is suitable for their intended use.

Manufacturers could implement an individual rating system for their equipment, but this would lead to confusion. Protection levels and ratings would differ across the same type of tools and equipment made by different brands.

3. How to Read IP Ratings

IP rating contains two digits:

1.The first number states the level of protection against solid foreign bodies. This includes protection against accidental touches by hand, penetration by smaller objects, like dirt, to being fully sealed against dust ingress.

2.The second number relates to protection from liquid exposure, from light splashes and spray to full submersion and sealing against moisture droplets in humid environments.

IP Rating Diagram

What are IP Ratings: IP Rating Diagram
IP Rating Diagram

As you can see from the above image the top line represents the first digit of the IP rating (level of protection against solid foreign objects), whilst the bottom line represents the second digit of the IP rating (the protection level against liquid).

4. How are IP Ratings Standardised?

IP rating is detailed under The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)British Standards Institution (BSI), and European Standards (EN). Experts from each of these bodies work together to ensure standardisation across the the globe.

5. What is the Difference Between Water Resistance and Waterproof?

Water resistance is resistance against the ingress of water/liquid. Continued exposure or exposure at a level above the resistance of the device will result in penetration. Most likely causing damage to the equipment. As shown in the above diagram, any item with an IP rating where the second digit is 1 or above is water-resistant to some degree. The higher the number, the higher the level of water resistance.

‘Waterproof’ equipment is sealed effectively against liquid. It can be submerged underwater for an extended amount of time. The seal will hold, keeping the components dry and protected.

Although the IP rating for water/liquid protection goes up to 8 (the second digit of the IP number), IP67 is generally the highest liquid protection number found in hand-held electronic equipment. It offers high levels of resistance to liquid and is classed as ‘waterproof’, able to withstand submersion underwater up to 1-meter.

An IP68 rated electrical item will offer the highest level of protection against both dust and water, able to withstand submersion above 1-meter.

6. What is IPX?

When looking for IP protected equipment, you may see an IPX rating instead of an IP rating, i.e. IPX5, or IP5X, instead of IP65, or IP54. Although this looks like a different protection rating classification, it has a simple explanation and is still IP rated.

The only difference is that one of the numbers has not been certified, so either the fluid or solid ingress protection is unknown. In the above examples, IPX5 states a level of 5 against moisture ingress but the ingress protection against solids is unknown/untested. IP5X shows a protection rating of 5 against solid ingress but the liquid protection is unknown.

7. Common IP Ratings used For Handheld Devices

Handheld devices could include anything from mobile phones to measuring equipment. Although technically handheld equipment could be manufactured to any IP rating, the IP ratings found most commonly are IP54, IP65, IP66 and IP67.

Lets look at these in more detail below…

IP54

Partial protection against dust particles (IP54) and protected against spray from any direction (IP54). This level of protection offers good protection against solids, partially protected against dust. However, it is only water-resistant at a fairly low level.

You can easily browse ALL of our IP54 rated measuring equipment here…

IP65

Fully protected against dust particles (IP65) and protected against low-pressure water jets from any direction (IP65). This level of protection offers the highest level of protection against solids. However, does not offer full water resistance, it is unable to protect against submersion or consistent exposure to heavy rain.

You can easily browse ALL of our IP65 rated measuring equipment here…

IP66

Fully protected against dust particles (IP66) and is protected against high-pressure water jets from any direction (IP66). This level of protection offers the highest level of protection against solids, being completely dust-proof. It is also highly water-resistant, and so suitable for use outdoors in most conditions.

You can easily browse ALL of our IP66 rated measuring equipment here…

IP67

Fully protected against dust particles (IP67) and protected against water submersion up to 1m for 30mins (IP67). This level of protection offers the highest level of protection against solids, being completely dust-proof. It is also close to being fully waterproof and suitable for working outside in most conditions.

You can easily browse ALL of our IP67 rated measuring equipment here…

A coolant proof micrometer or waterproof indicator would generally have an IP67 rating.

8. Which IP Rating do you need?

The IP rating you need is dependent on both the application and the environment. An engineer in a factory where coolant splashes often occur, you would need a coolant proof device.

You can check our range of coolant proof micrometers

  • Anything that is required to be coolant proof will require a rating of IP66 or IP67. As discussed the second digit represents high-level protection against liquid splashes and submersion
  • A micrometer used in a dusty but dry environment may only need a rating of IP65, with maximum protection against dust ingress but lesser protection against liquid splashes. It does not need to be a coolant proof micrometer but does need to be dustproof

Now you know your IP65 from your IP54 or 67, you can browse our range of coolant proof micrometers, our IP protected calipers, or any other equipment. However, if you have any further questions about IP rating for a specific piece of equipment or purpose, please contact us for advice.

How to Choose the Right Price Range?

IP rating affects the price point of equipment, so knowing which rating you need may save you money. Generally speaking, if you are working outside, you will need an IP rating of 65 or 67. However, in other situations, it is worthwhile considering your working environment.

For example, an IP54 digital micrometer may be sufficient for your needs. It may also be at least 30% cheaper than an IP67 coolant proof micrometer.

Conclusion

It is common for dust and moisture to accidentally enter their way into the sealed unit of your electrical device.

Knowing this, and the difference between the main IP ratings (be it IP54, IP65, or IP67), will not only allow you to confidently converse with your engineering buddies, but it may also save you a pocketful of cash when purchasing new hand-held metrology equipment.

An IP67 coolant proof micrometer will be more expensive than an equivalent micrometer with an IP54 rating, so it’s worthwhile knowing what you need before you start looking.

Whether it is a coolant proof micrometer you need, a dustproof caliper or a depth gauge protected against exposure to both dust and liquid, purchasing a piece of equipment with the correct level of IP rating is essential. It ensures your equipment is suitable for your use, the environment it will be used in, and also for saving a little money!

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