IP67 & IP68 – Water Resistant or Waterproof?
We bandy the term "Ingress Protection" about quite freely, and we generally take it an indicator of how waterproof our electrical enclosures are. However, at the top end of the IP scale, there are the levels of protection which mean water "resistant" and water "proof." So, let's ask the question: IP67 & IP68 Water Resistant or Waterproof?
What Are IP Ratings All About?
Firstly, you should be aware that there’s a big difference between waterproof and water-resistant.
"Water-resistant" means a product like an LED Downlight, like the one shown on the left, can stop water entering it to some degree. However, "waterproof" means it’s completely impervious to water, no matter how long it’s submerged.
To put this into context, "IP" is the standard created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to determine how resistant an electrical enclosure or device is to fresh water and widely found solid materials such as dirt, dust and sand.
It stands for “Ingress Protection.” The first digit after IP is the rating that’s assigned to a fitting or enclosure’s resistance to solid materials.
In the case of IP67 and IP68-rated items, it’s six. This means that the light fitting or electrical enclosure is fully protected against dust or dirt, having been in contact with them for a test period of eight hours.
Take a look at this first table, as it explains exactly what the first digit means in each individual case:
Protection Against Solids
|IP Code||Level of Protection|
|1||Protected 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.|
|2||Protected from fingers or similar objects.|
|3||Protected against tools, thick wires or similar objects.|
|4||Protected from most wires, screws or similar objects.|
|5||Partial protection against contact with harmful dust or dirt.|
|6||Total protection against contact with harmful dust or dirt.|
Protection Against Liquids
|IP Code||Level of Protection|
|1||Protected against water dripping vertically on the enclosure.|
|2||Protected against vertically dripping water when enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15°.|
|3||Protected against direct sprays of water when device is tilted at an angle up to 60°.|
|4||Protected against sprays and splashing water from any direction.|
|5||Protected from low-pressure water projected from a nozzle with a 6.3mm diameter opening from any direction.|
|6||Protected from water projected in powerful jets from a nozzle with a 12.5mm diameter opening from any direction.|
|7||Protected from immersion in water to a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) for up to 30 mins.|
|8||Protected from immersion in water to a depth of more than 1 meter (manufacturer must specify exact depth).|
You'll be able to immerse an enclosure with an IP67-rating in 1.5 metres of water for half an hour. On the other hand, it's possible to submerge IP68-rated items for an indefinite period, although the manufacturer must specify its depth.
What About Other Liquids?
The International Electrotechnical Commission assigns ratings which relate specifically to fresh water so, technically, your IP67 or IP68-rated LED Floodlight isn’t guaranteed protection against liquids like saltwater, coffee, beer or orange squash.
Remember, the IP rating of your enclosure or device was achieved under laboratory conditions. So, it’s always worth checking the documentation on a manufacturer’s website to see what, if any, exceptions to the rating are specified.
The moral of this story is that having a wild outdoor party that’s lit using IP68-rated LED Floodlights is fine. And, it’s even perfectly okay to get them soaking wet…BUT make sure it’s fresh water you fling around and NOT lager!
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