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Ingress Protection (IP) and what it means

The IP Code (or International Protection Rating, sometimes also interpreted as Ingress Protection Rating*) consists of the letters IP followed by two digits and an optional letter. As defined in international standard IEC 60529, it classifies the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures. The standard aims to provide users more detailed information than vague marketing terms such as waterproof.
The digits (characteristic numerals) indicate conformity with the conditions summarized in the tables below. For example, an electrical socket rated IP22 is protected against insertion of fingers and will not be damaged or become unsafe during a specified test in which it is exposed to vertically or nearly vertically dripping water. IP22 or 2X are typical minimum requirements for the design of electrical accessories for indoor use.
^Explanation of the letters IP is given in IEC 60529 (Ed. 2.1), clause 4.1

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First Digit: Solids

The first digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts (e.g., electrical conductors, moving parts) and the ingress of solid foreign objects.

LevelObject size protected againstEffective against
0Not protectedNo protection against contact and ingress of objects
1>50mmAny large surface of the body, such as the back of the hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part.
2>12.5mmFingers or similar objects.
3>2.5mmTools, thick wires, etc.
4>lmmMost wires, screws, etc.
5Dust ProtectedIngress 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.
6Dust TightNo ingress of dust; complete protection against contact.

Second Digit: Liquids

Protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against harmful ingress of water.

LevelObject size protected againstEffective against
0Not protected-
1Dripping waterDripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmfull effect.
2Dripping 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.
3Spraying waterWater falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall
4Splashing waterWater splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have nc harmful effect.
5Water jetsWater projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6Powerful water jetsWater projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosur from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
7Immersion up to lmIngress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure a: time (up to 1 m of submersion).
8Immersion beyond lmThe equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Normally, thi will mean that the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only ii such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.

IP Rating Reference Chart

Below is an easy to follow reference chart to help you decide which IP rating you need or have.

IP NumberFirst Digit - SOLIDSSecond Digit - LIQUIDS
IP00Not protected from solids.Not protected from liquids.
IP01Not protected from solids.Protected from condensation.
IP02Not protected from solids.Protected from water spray less than 15 degrees from vertical.
IP03Not protected from solids.Protected from water spray less than 60 degrees from vertical.
IP04Not protected from solids.Protected from water spray from any direction.
IP05Not protected from solids.Protected from low pressure water jets from any direction.
IP06Not protected from solids.Protected from high pressure water jets from any direction.
IP07Not protected from solids.Protected from immersion between 15 centimeters and 1 meter in depth.
IP08Not protected from solids.Protected from long term immersion up a specified pressure.
IP10Protected from touch by hands greater than 50 millimeters.Not protected from liquids.

References
1. IEC 60529, “degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures (IP Codes),” Ed. 2.1 (Geneva: International Electrotechnical Commision, 2011)
2. IEC 60529 (Ed. 2.1), clause 4.1.

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