Understanding the meaning of IP ratings

How would you choose a suitable light fitting for bathroom or outside use? In order to do so you need to understand the meaning of IP Rating.

What is IP?

IP stands for Ingress (entering) Protection. It is a rating used to describe levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against interference from foreign bodies such as dirt and moisture. In simple terms, how well is a fitting enclosed or sealed (can water, moist, steam, dust etc. penetrate the fitting?)


What do the numbers in an IP Rating mean?

IP numbers consist of 2 digits: The first digit indicates the degree of protection from moving parts and foreign bodies; for example dust (i.e. Solids Protection). The second digit indicates the level of protection from various forms of moisture; like drips, sprays, submersion etc. (i.e. Liquids Protection).

IP Ratings – what they mean

Below are the definitions of each number used in an IP Rating

First Digit (Solids Protection)

  1. No special protection
  2. Protection from a large part of the body such as a hand (but no protection from deliberate access); from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter.
  3. Protection against fingers or other object not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.
  4. Protection from entry by tools, wires etc, with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more.
  5. Protection against solid bodies larger than 1mm (eg fine tools/small etc).
  6. Protected against dust that may harm equipment.
  7. Totally dust tight.

Second Digit (Liquids Protection)

  1. No protection.
  2. Protection against condensation
  3. Protection against water droplets deflected up to 15° from vertical
  4. Protected against spray up to 60° from vertical.
  5. Protected against water spray from all directions.
  6. Protection against low pressure water jets (all directions)
  7. Protection against strong water jets and waves.
  8. Protected against temporary immersion.
  9. Protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure.

The most commonly used IP ratings in lighting are IP20, IP44, IP54, IP65 and IP67. For a quick reference, these are explained below:


  • IP20 Enclosure – Strictly for indoor use only. Cannot be used in bathrooms and areas with steam or moisture (unless otherwise stated).
  • IP44 Enclosure – Can be used in bathrooms and areas with steam or moisture. Can be used outdoor but must be protected from harsh weather conditions. Can only withstand light rain (for example under a patio).
  • IP 54 Enclosures – Same as IP44, but slightly higher dust resistant.
  • IP 65 Enclosures – For outdoor use. Can withstand heavy rain (for example in one’s yard).
  • IP 67 Enclosures – For outdoor use. Can withstand extremely harsh conditions. May be submerged underwater for maximum 30 minutes in water that is 1 meter high (for example in areas with heavy rainfalls / floods).

If you have any further enquiries please contact me on 021-7885532 or you can email me on yasmin@flash.za.com

Yasmin Khan

QC Manager

BTech Electrical Engineer