The Lowdown on IP Codes – Ingress Protection of Electrical Products

William S. Bisenius, NCE & NCT, President
CertifiGroup, Inc.

What is Your IP Code
Do you know what your products IP Code is? An IP Code is a rating assigned to a product or enclosure indicating its level of ingress protection, or the amount of protection that the enclosure provides against the entry of solid foreign objects (fingers, tools, dust, etc.) and against moisture (varying degrees of rain).

IP Codes utilize the format IPXX, with the Xs representing numbers from the coding scheme. The 1st number represents the degree of protection against the entry of foreign solid objects and has a range of 0 to 6. The second number represents the degree of protection against the entry of moisture and has a range of 0 to 8. Note that the letter X may be substituted for the number 0.

The following provides a summary of the IP Code System.

IP Code 1st Numeral

Protection from Solid Foreign Objects

IP0 or X - Not evaluated

IP1 - ≥ 50.0 mm diameter object

IP2 - ≥ 12.5 mm diameter object

IP3 - ≥ 2.5 mm diameter object

IP4 - ≥ 1.0 mm diameter object

IP5 - Dust-Protected

IP6 - Dust-Tight

IP Code 2nd Numeral

Protection from Moisture

IP0 or X - Not evaluated

IP1 - Dripping Water: Vertical

IP2 - Dripping Water: 15 Tilt

IP3 - Spraying Water

IP4 - Splashing Water

IP5 - Jetting Water

IP6 - Powerful Jetting Water

IP7 - Temporary Immersion

IP8 - Continuous Immersion

Perhaps the best way to understand the IP code system is to see a few examples. Listed below are a few of the many possible IP Code combinations, remember that X and 0 are interchangeable.

IP13: Protected from solid foreign objects ≥ 50 mm diameterand protected from moisture up to spraying water.

IP52: Dust-protected and protected from moisture up todripping water.

IP65: Dust-tight and protected from moisture up to jetting water.

IPX1: Not evaluated for protection against solid foreign objectsand protected from moisture up to vertically dripping water.

IP4X: Protected from solid foreign objects up to 1.0 mmdiameter and not evaluated for protection from moisture.

Of course the not evaluated aspect of the X or 0 rating can mean many things. It can represent a product that would be compliant but has not been tested, it can also represent a product that would not comply. In many cases it is simply an unknown for products that were never intended to comply with that section of the requirements/tests.

Who Needs an IP Rating?
Many products and components need an IP rating. In the US, Canada and Mexico an increasing number of UL and CSA standards are requiring IP ratings, information technology equipment, laboratory equipment, electrical medical equipment and light fixtures to name a few. In addition, the European CE mark system requires suitable IP ratings for products, as do all foreign countries outside the EU.

Examples of products that need IP ratings include outdoor products, off-the-shelf enclosures, dust-tight products, moisture resistant products, damp location products, as well as their critical components. Note that higher IP ratings can resolve other compliance concerns as with sealed products used in hazardous locations. More specific examples include a minimum IPX4 rating requirement for handheld controls of electrical medical equipment, and an exception for information technology equipment permitting reduced electrical spacings inside enclosures with a minimum IP54 rating.

How Do I Get an IP Rating?
Each number in the IP Code rating scheme represents a specific test; the higher the number, the more severe the test. Each test has requirements that tightly control the test procedure and the test equipment. By identifying the desired IP Code for your product (as required for your type of product by the appropriate safety standard and/or as requested by your customer/marketing department) you can translate this code to a specific test program

Ingress Protection Testing:

IP Testing 1st Numeral: Ratings IP1X IP4X
Tests for ratings IP1X to IP4X address ingress from solid foreign objects of varying size limit. These size limits correlate to appropriately sized accessibility probes. These probes are applied to the enclosure of the product to determine if they are able to enter any enclosure openings. The standard also indicates a maximum force limit to be applied to each probe.

IP Testing 1st Numeral: Ratings IP5X – IP6X
Unlike ratings IP1X to IP4X, tests for ratings IP5X and IP6X require much more complex test equipment. The intent of these tests is to support the test sample in a dust test chamber containing specially sized grains of talcum powder in suspension.

Depending on the type of product being tested and the associated requirements in the end-product standard, a vacuum line may also be connected to the sample. Note that the design of the product will dictate whether the vacuum line results in air flow. Leaky seals will allow air to flow when the vacuum is applied and therefore pressure will not build. Likewise, a tightly sealed product will have little to no air flow and consequently negative pres-sure will increase.

Dust Chamber

IP Testing 2nd Numeral: Ratings IPX1 IPX2
Tests for ratings IPX1 and IPX2 address ingress from dripping water. A summary of the test parameters for each rating is summarized below.

Tests for these ratings are conducted using a Drip Box System and a Wet Turntable. The Drip Box system incorporates a 20 by 20 mm grid pattern of special drip nozzles. The drip nozzles are positioned 200 mm above the test sample.

IPX1: Sample rotated at 1 RPM and 100 mm eccentricity under water dripping at a rate of 1 mm a minute for 10 minutes.

IPX2: Sample tilted at 15 angle under water dripping at a rate of 3 mm a minute for a total of 10 minutes, with 2.5 min. in each position of tilt.

IP Testing 2nd Numeral: Ratings IPX3 IPX4
Tests for ratings IPX3 and IPX4 address ingress from spraying and splashing water. Two alternate types of test equipment are described for these tests, a handheld spray nozzle and an oscillating spray test system. The complexity, cost and ease of use greatly differ between these two options. Be sure to know which method/test equipment your end-product standard requires.

For the Oscillating Spray Test, a spray tube rotates around the test sample spraying it with water. The distance between the spray nozzles and the test sample is to be a maximum 200 mm. The rotation angle of the spray tube depends on the IP rating desired:

IPX3 – Oscillating Spray: Sample positioned under spray tubes rotating at 60 from vertical for 5 minutes. Oscillation rate of 2×120 in four seconds. Flow rate dependent upon tube size. Tube size dependent upon the sample size.

Spray Chamber

IPX4 – Oscillating Spray: Sample positioned under spray tubes rotating at near 180 from vertical for 10 minutes. Oscillation rate of 2×360 in 12 seconds. Flow rate dependent upon tube size. Tube size dependent upon the sample size.

For the Handheld Spray Test, a precision spray head and shield assembly is used to spray/splash the sample with water. The distance between the spray head and the test sample is to be a maximum 200 mm.

IPX3 – Handheld Spray: Sample sprayed at 60 from vertical with a flow rate of 10 L/min. Each surface of the enclosure (within the spray arch) is to be tested for 1 min/m2 of surface area of enclosure, with not less than 5 minutes total test time.

IPX4 – Handheld Spray: Sample sprayed at 180 from vertical with a flow rate of 10 L/min. Each surface of the enclosure (within the spray arch) is to be tested for 1 min/m2 of surface area of enclosure, with not less than 5 minutes total test time.

IP Testing 2nd Numeral: Ratings IPX5 IPX6
Tests for ratings IPX5 and IPX6 address ingress from a jetting water stream. A summary of the test parameters for each rating is summarized below. Tests for these ratings are conducted using a Jet Nozzle Kit. Testing to IPX6 also requires a water tank and a high pressure water source.

IPX5: Sample is subjected to jetting water by a jet nozzle with a 6.3 mm diameter opening at a flow rate of 12.5 L/min. Each surface of the product is to be tested for one minute from a distance of 2.5 to 3.0 meters.

Jet Nozzle Test

IPX6: Sample is subjected to jetting water by a jet nozzle with a 12.5 mm diameter opening at a flow rate of 100 L/min. Each surface of the product is to be tested for one minute from a distance of 2.5 to 3.0 meters.

IP Testing 2nd Numeral: RatingsIPX7 IPX8
Tests for ratings IPX7 and IPX8 address ingress from submersion in water. A summary of the test parameters for each rating is summarized below. It is important to note that compliance with these tests does not imply compli-ance with ratings IPX5 and IPX6 unless the product is marked with both ratings (i.e. IPX5/IPX7).

IPX7: Sample submerged for 30 minutes. The lowest point of the enclosure is to be 1,000 mm below the surface. The highest point of the enclosure should be at least 150 mm below the surface.

IPX8: Test time and submersion depth by manufacturers specifications must be marked on the product.

Important Test Criteria
Here are a few other requirements and tips that are important to consider:

Final Inspection: The test equipment does not identify a pass/fail conclusion for any of these tests. The probe tests are a hands-on process. For all the other tests, a compliance engineer must inspect the inside of the product immediately after stopping the test to determine if dust or moisture entered the enclosure and if it did, whether the dust/moisture impedes safety or proper product operation.

End-Product Standard: Your end-product standard may add further detail, modify or otherwise change the test method and the pass/fail criteria for these tests. Remember that IEC60529 is a reference standard, some end-product standards require full compliance with IEC60529 while others require only partial or modified compliance.

Water Temperature: For the wet tests, the standard requires that the test sample, the test equipment, AND the water must be maintained at room temperature for 24 hours before testing = necessitates an in-door test lab with a storage tank system.

Test Equipment: Be sure to only use test equipment that has been calibrated to the IEC60529 standard by an in scope ISO17025 accredited cal lab.

Test Labs: Be sure to only use an ISO17025 accredited test lab that is in scope for testing to the IEC60529 standard.

Summary
The intent of this article was to provide you with a good overall understanding of the IP Coding System and the associated IP Tests. While most of the requirements have been discussed and summarized within this article, it should not be a replacement for use of the Safety Standard = if the IP requirements apply to you, be sure to thoroughly review the current edition of the standard IEC60529 (presently edition 2.1) and your end product standard. Remember there is no point in doing the tests unless you are doing them in exact accordance with the requirements.

CertifiGroup is the coming together of the very best in regulatory compliance, product safety and many other fields of testing and certification. Our experience comes from years of evaluating and testing systems, products and equipment of every category and type imaginable. If its been manufactured, weve seen it. If its new, they know about it. For more information visit www.certifigroup.com.

 

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