What do the numbers in an IP Rating mean?
The numbers that follow IP each have a specific meaning. The first indicates the degree of protection (of people) from moving parts, as well as the protection of enclosed equipment from foreign bodies. The second defines the protection level that the enclosure enjoys from various forms of moisture (drips, sprays, submersion etc).
When an IP rating has an X instead of a number, this indicates that the protection rating has no significance to the product.
IP ratings are important because they are necessary to understand if an electrical instrument is at risk of causing danger. For example, some heaters are appropriate for heating a shower room or bathroom: a towel rail has a high IP rating of 44 (IP44 rating is the minimum rating required in zone 2 of a bathroom).
Your bathroom is split up in to four different zones, with different ratings required for each one.
Zone 0: the interior of the bathtub or shower basin.
Zone 1: the area around the bathtub or shower basin up to a height of 2.25m above the floor and at a radius of 1.2m from the water outlet.
Zone 2: is limited by the vertical planes external to zone 1 and parallel vertical plane(s) 0.60m external to zone 1.
Zone 2 is the most likely area where you would install an electric heater, therefore, an IP rating of at least IPX4 (IP44) is required. However, if you intend to use water jets for cleaning purposes, a minimum of IPX5 is required.
Zone 3: is limited to the vertical plane(s) external to zone 2 and the parallel vertical plane(s) 2.40m external to zone 2.
Wherever there may be an ingress of dust or water! You should always use IP Rated products in Kitchens, Bathrooms and for Outdoor usage.
Please read more about how bathrooms are zoned here.
The first number indicates the degree of protection for dirt, dust and intrusion protection.
0 – No special protection
1 – 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.
2 – Protection against fingers or other object not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter.
3 – Protection from entry by tools, wires etc, with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more.
4 – Protection against solid bodies larger than 1mm (e.g. fine tools/small etc).
5 – Protected against dust that may harm equipment.
6 – Totally dust tight.
The second number defines the level of protection against moisture.
0 – No protection.
1 – Protection against condensation.
2 – Protection against water droplets deflected up to 15° from vertical.
3 – Protected against spray up to 60° from vertical.
4 – Protected against water spray from all directions.
5 – Protection against low pressure water jets (all directions).
6 – Protection against string water jets and waves.
7 – Protected against temporary immersion.
8 – Protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure.