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Understanding IP Ratings & Their Applications in the Lighting Industry
IP ratings have become an essential part of the lighting industry, with manufacturers competing to provide products with the latest protection against the elements. However, as a homeowner, electrician, or customer, you may wonder what IP rating is and why it matters. In this quick guide, we will help you understand what IP ratings are, what they mean, and how they apply to the lighting industry. If you have questions and or require assistance to make an informed decisions about the lighting products to choose for your needs, feel free to reach out.
What’s the Australian Standard for IP Ratings?
If you’ve got the money (AU$161), time (48 pages long!), and patience (it admittably gets *really boring* after the first two pages) – you could simply download the Australian Standard (AS 60529-2004) document from SAI Global.
Or.. You could simply view the CE Standard (British & European \ Global Standard) by searching Google for “IEC 60529 PDF Download” since the information is rather generic these days between countries due to harmonisation (and trade, mostly trade).
All Barn Light products are hardy and long-lasting at the best of times. Even our indoor lights continue to shine against all kinds of rough treatment and time.
But to ramp up the durability even further, we outdoor-proof your lighting fixture to ensure the best Outdoor Rating that Australian lighting can offer. This involves silicone setting and other processes to ensure nothing will get in or attemp to corrode. The best part of this service, is that its already part of the product as we use Aluminium and durable Dulux Powdercoatings meaning, durability outweighs the IP Ratings you might be accustomed to.
What is an IP rating?
Firstly – An IP (Ingress Protection) rating is a two-digit code that indicates the level of protection an electrical appliance or fitting has against the ingress of solid objects or water. The first digit in the IP rating system ranges from zero to six and indicates the level of protection against solid objects, while the second digit ranges from zero to eight and denotes the level of protection against water ingress. Sometimes things need to be spelt out – IP20 is NOT a valid outdoor rating, as zero water ingress protection exists (and outdoors is at least humid and wet for 25% of the year).
|IP Code||Protection||Object Size||Comments|
|0||No protection||N/A||If it STARTS with 0 ie. IP04 – Product is rubbish|
|1||Protection from contact with any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand. But no protection against deliberate contact with a body part, such as a finger.||Less than 50mm|
|2||Protection from fingers or similar objects.||Less than 12.5mm|
|3||Protection from tools, thick wires or similar objects.||Less than 2.5mm||This should be the bare minimum|
|4||Protection from most wires, screws or similar objects.||Less than 1mm||This is where Barn Light starts from|
|5||Partial protection from contact with harmful dust.||N/A||Anything lesser than 1mm, generally refers to Moisture/Water Protection.|
|6||Protection from contact with harmful dust.||N/A||This is generally associated with submersible products.|
|IP Code||Protection||Test duration||Usage||Comments
(You’ll never get a lower number than the second digit in the first column. ie. IP02, IP47, IP83 are all incorrect IP ratings.)
|0||No protection.||N/A||N/A||If it ends with 0, or CONTAINS a zero – Product is rubbish!|
|1||Protection against vertically dripping water.||10 mins||Light rain||We find that IPx3, in any configuration generally doesn’t perform like a light fixture intends.|
|2||Protection against vertically dripping water when device is tilted at an angle up to 15 degrees.||10 mins||Light rain||We commonly see “indoor rated” light fixtures sold as bathroom lighting, Your electrician will not appreciate the purchase due to humitidy causing electrical issues.|
|3||Protection against direct sprays of water when device is tilted at an angle up to 60 degrees.||5 mins||Rain and spraying||Its important to note that in this definition, the product is tilted upto 60 degrees, not the angle of water.|
|4||Protection from sprays and splashing of water in all directions.||5 mins||Rain, spraying and splashing||This is where Barn Light starts from – This means all products in all of our categories (Exc. Indoor Rated!).
Our products are designed to outperform anything over the the IP44 Rated Range however this would require independant, per product, testing at the cost of something significant. We already have IP44 as a standard (CE Tested, AUS equivalent) and IP55 based on testing provided.
|5||Protection from low-pressure water projected from a nozzle with a 6.3mm diameter opening in any direction.||3 mins from a distance of 3 meters||Rain, splashing and direct contact with most kitchen and bathroom faucets||Our “Caged” or “Atomic” offer IP55 Ratings, meaning the accessory where purchased (Product Code Contains “Atomic” or ends in any of these specifiers: “/CGG/TGG/WGG/CLR/FRS”|
|6||Protection from water projected in powerful jets from a nozzle with a 12.5mm diameter opening in any direction.||3 mins from a distance of 3 meters||Rain, splashing, direct contact with kitchen and bathroom faucets, outdoor use in rough sea conditions||Important to Note: For any item to end with a “IPX6”; the solid digit must also be “IP6X”. ie IP55, IP66, IP67
|7||Protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) for up to 30 mins.||30 mins||Rain, splashing and accidental submersion||We commonly get asked if we supply IP67 Rated Lighting – The answer is strictly “no” – It would be questionable if your home was underwater to how we’d warranty the product to begin with. Explainations are listed below.|
|8||Protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 meter (manufacturer must specify exact depth).||At least 30 mins||Rain, splashing and accidental submersion||We’ll never offer IP68 Rated Lighting – The general consensus is “You don’t need it”. Items of these types are normally restricted to areas like Pools, Vapour Areas (think Petrol Station Lighting), or anywhere that may go underwater from time to time.|
What IP rating do you require?
The IP rating required for a lighting project depends on the environment in which the fitting will be installed. For instance, a bathroom will require a higher IP rating than garage. The higher the IP rating, the more protection against the ingress of solid objects or water. Unfortunately this doesn’t cover product quality (we’ll get to that shortly)
Your electrician will determine what level of IP rating is required for your lighting projects, depending on the location and nature of the installation.
Further Discussion: What you need to know.
Do you need it? – If you have lights installed under cover, the requirement for IP ratings is somewhat redundant unless you live on the beach, or Queensland!, or near flood prone areas where you generally have bigger issues to comprehend.
Builders typically see the higher the IP rating, the higher the quality (and less building defects/issues) – not necessarily true but close enough.
If a builder specifies a certain IP Rating in a certain location, it might be for a purpose – ie. proximity to a gutter, or expected heavier-than-the-national-average rainfall areas. It might just be that they’ve experienced a common issues and raised the IP rating to accommodate a south-facing area that gets significant moisture in Winter. For any reason, you have the right to question how and why its been specified. After all, you are paying for it?
Electricians see IP ratings as hard requirements for certain areas (ie. Showers/Pools etc) as it directly relates to how often they need to attempt to repair something if unsuitable since they will be underwriting the product to suit the environment it is installed to.
Its your electrician’s license that is “at risk” when dodgy stuff is supplied – Which is why they’d typically prefer to supply the product at their own cost because they get an opportunity to verify the important stuff like IP Ratings, product quality (will it last a few years at least?!) so they don’t need to return.
Designers typically prefer not to know, unless strictly necessary – they’re looking for the nicest, most affordable (typically) lighting fixtures to make a house, your home. The technical jargon associated with IP Ratings, Exclusion Zones, Warranties, Replacements are all another factor to consider and the frequent changing, compromises, and budgeting all make their life difficult.
If you designer wants to specify a Colorbond® Colour for your lighting to match your fences, or facade – there is a good reason they’d consider the IP rating before purchase (after all, its their reputation that brings in customers!)
My Electrican said: “You need…”
Electricians deal with a lot of issues, rarely it be a customer checking IP Ratings. Having said that, if someone is specifying IP68 – Ask them why you need lighting fixtures to be installed underwater (a common “huh” question) or else if someone is purposely going to stand there and use a pressure water to justify “IP67” in the same instance. It might be similar to your builder’s advance knowledge (which helps further planning), or you’ll find that *most* of the time, the person specifying has decided for the “best” rather than “what’s needed”.
“Can I buy an IP67 Light from you?”
We’ll always answer “No” and direct you to this page to explain it, and more importantly have you understand how Ingress Protection works – on Solids & Liquids (the Two tables listed at the start of the article!)
While electrical safety is paramount to any good design, gold plating an immovable object isn’t always required.
How are IP ratings applied to the lighting industry?
The lighting industry now uses IP ratings to provide guidance on the suitability of lighting products for different environments. Lighting products with higher IP ratings are suitable for harsher environments and applications such as outdoor lighting and industrial applications. We’re talking the difference between installing indoors, vs outdoors, but also between lighting for Petrol Stations to Pool Areas (Gas Vapour vs. Water/Moisture).
In contrast, lower-rated products are suitable for indoor lighting needs. Therefore, it is essential to verify the IP rating of a lighting product before purchasing it to ensure it meets the environmental requirements for its intended use.
What are some of the common IP ratings used in the lighting industry?
Some of the common IP ratings in the lighting industry include; IP20, IP44, IP55, IP65, and IP68. IP20 is the lowest rating and provides basic protection against fingers and intrusion of objects larger than 12mm.
IP44 (Our manufacturing standard) provides protection against the ingress of solid objects and splashes of water from all directions, making it ideal for bathrooms and outdoor lighting.
IP55 (Our Atomic/Caged products) provides protection against dust and low-pressure jets of water from any direction, making it a suitable option for outdoor lighting. This rating is regularly used in commercial and industrial spaces, where the conditions may be harsher than residential settings and outdoor lighting.
IP65 offers dust-tight protection and protection against water jets, making it suitable for harsher environments such as construction sites.
Lastly, IP68 provides protection against water submersion and is perfect for swimming pools, water features, and pond lighting.
We could just leave our claim at ‘Weatherproof, vapour-proof, dustproof and built to last,’ but we are keen to prove it and are not afraid of getting technical to prove that point. If you want to read wikipedia, let’s go that extra step: Here is what the IP code means, and we stand by it.
More than this, and this may shock you, but lights made merely to the minimum quality standard (to become saleable) could quite literally shock you in the most inopportune time and IP Ratings have zero control over these factors.
I’ve personally been zapped operating a commercial pedestral drill with a faulty emergency shut-off switch. The manufacturer decided against a recall because I was the only person zapped at 170 Volts…
Quality Matters – For your forever home!
As an Australian Manufacturer – we’re required to list our products within the boundaries of Australia’s Electrical Laws – so we’re registered with ERAC/ACMA/ESV and associated legal entities.
Below is a lot of technical details which you can read if you like, but the upshot is that we insist on the highest AUSTRALIAN rating for all our lights (which is part of why we choose Australian whenever possible).
While its noted that IP Ratings are an excellent metric of suitability for the product, IP Ratings do NOT cover DURABILITY.
There is zero point behind providing an IP44 rating if the product rusts within 12 months (Looking at you Be*c0n Lighting) of being installed, where the unit could fall of the wall.
Understanding IP ratings when purchasing lighting products is a critical factor in ensuring that the products can withstand the environment in which they will be installed. By providing a level of protection against solid objects and water ingress, IP ratings help determine the suitability of a lighting product for a specific environment. As a homeowner, electrician, or customer, always verify the IP rating on a lighting product to ensure it will meet the environmental requirements for its intended use. Overall, IP ratings play an essential role in the lighting industry, ensuring the reliability and durability of lighting products.
Barn Light's Quick List of Product IP Ratings.
STANDARD LIGHT FITTINGS USING E27 CERAMIC SOCKETS
Our lights are defaulted to IP44 (Minimum) which offers outdoor, full-weather protection.
IP4X = Most wires, slender screws, large ants.
IPX4 = Water Splashing against the lampholder. (eg. Rain from above, no sprinklers!)
LIGHT FITTINGS USING HIGH PERFORMANCE LED INSTALLATIONS
Our CMU1516 Range of light fittings are typically IP44 where installed without an Atomic Cast Guard (Industrial Bunker Light) or without the Glass of the same.
Our CMU1516 Range of light fittings are IP55 where installed with Atomic Cast Guard & Supplied Glass.
The LMH020 Range (discontinued 06/2022) of light fittings are IP44 rated however are not designed for areas with water jets as water may pool in areas around the light source (further, can cause water to humidify near the heat-sinks). The Driver is located behind a specially designed enclosure (provided free of charge).
The CXA2520 Range (discontinued 06/2022) of light fittings are IP55 where properly sealed with electrician’s/plumber’s silicon compound. The driver is hidden within the cap that holds the light source and is 220V input
Just because a fitting is LED, does not mean it is “safer” than 220V systems – Respect the spark.
The basic construction of our goosenecks, pendants, stems, sconces etc are based around plumbers metal-on-metal threading. We use NPT 1/4″ for both our 25mm and 20mm pipes (adapted from 1″ & 3/4″ Pipe).
The most common problem we encounter is the use of “Left-Hand Threads” on the locking Hex coupler which seals the shade using two gaskets, to that of the gooseneck/stem – Our assembly kits are marked, you/r electrician will see the sticker!
ATOMIC CAST GUARDS & THEIR USAGE
Our “Atomic” fitted lights default to IP55. – Where properly sealed with electrician’s/plumber’s silicon compound – IP56
IP5X = Dust Tight; no Ingress of Dust.
IPX5 = Water Jets (think Garden Hose, not a pressure washer!)
LIGHT FITTINGS W/ OPTIONAL ATOMIC GLASS USING E27 CERAMIC SOCKETS
Our Atomic Cast Guard is modelled around “Vapor-Proof” fittings from the 1980’s, these units include gaskets, silicon tape, grub screws and O-rings to make this unit watertight for external locations. We use NPT (National Pipe Thread/Taper) 1/4″ for threading all of our units, including Goosenecks.
In order to achieve IP55 – You are required to purchase the Atomic Cast Guard as part of the unit (+79ea) which includes Clear or Frosted Glass and Standard Cast Guard or Heavy Duty Cast Guard – Both come with grub screws to ensure the cage is thread-locked but to also ensure that the glass is protected should impact damage occurs.
To order, please select your preferred colour, mounting arm and select the cast guard style preferred. We do not recommend the [WGG] Nautical Wire Guard for your premises near fresh or salt water due to lack of grub screw further the unit is made from Steel with a higher propensity to rust than our [CGG/TGG] die-cast aluminium units.
Commonly Asked Questions.
We’re here to help so don’t shy away from asking those “Dumb Questions” that you wish you could research prior to calling – after all that’s how you found this page.
Commonly known questions:
Can I install my Barn Light in my Bathroom, above the shower? ~Frustrated Customer.
More than likely – Nope! Your electrician has the first and final say on all installations for safety reasons. If your electrician does not approve the installation for safety reasons – that’s the end of it.
Unlike most Lighting companies – We’re on your side – after all we’re professionals. You’ll get a 100% refund from Barn Light upon the safe return of your order. All you are required to do is ask your electrician to contact us (or give us their number) and we’ll investigate their reasoning. Sometimes gaskets and instructions are overlooked so we do our best to ensure we can make your dream a reality.
To give you an idea, here’s a better explanation of distances between water and powerpoints and that doesn’t even cover lighting: https://build.com.au/distance-between-water-and-power-points
Can I install my Barn Lights roughly two meters away from my pool? ~The guy who previously bought junk the sparky won’t install.
Like the above query regarding showers – The probability of splashing and water jets in the immediate area is an ongoing concern. That said there is an entire safety standard (AS2560.2.5-2007) that references “Sports Lighting – Specific Applications – Swimming Pools” that is all encompassing. Builders and Electricians are expected to 100% enforce (not just sign a certificate) this standard to ensure safety. Any time a body of water is concerned, the hair on the back of their neck will standard up (seriously: watch!) and as such they’ll risk adverse. Further reading: https://infostore.saiglobal.com/uploadedFiles/Content/Standards/Guide_to_Standards-Pools_and_Spas.pdf
Where can I see Barn Light’s Outdoor Lighting?
We made a category strictly for our “Outdoor Lighting Range” just on the off-chance that we add an “indoor range”, then everything would be accessible within the one page (we’ve got seven pages in that page though…). Its a few pages long and while we hope you love browsing, you can always view the individual product pages and look for the IP44 or “IP55 Atomic Upgrade” symbols to be certain or contact us, we’d love to help you!