Understanding IP Alpha-Numeric Designations
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Understanding IP Alpha-Numeric Designations

No, not Intellectual Property, but Ingress Protection, which specifies the environmental protection that an enclosure provides. Read on...

By Fritz Meyne, Jr., Vice President Sales, Bitro Group, Inc.

In my learning and travels across North America I have come to see a huge misunderstanding of IP ratings, and their direct value to our sign industry.

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  • The IP rating has a direct and real impact of the product you use and the actual application you are putting the product into. This takes into account how the ambient environmental factors will affect your product and decision. Even more importantly, how your choice will affect your customers? Make the wrong decision and you might lose that customer. Chosing an IP rating with higher values than you need (might) affect your purchase/selling price?

    As an example, the rating IP64 to IP67 should cover all normal "Sign" applications. On the other hand, IP68 implies it would work for any "sign" need, however is that necessary and at what price as it takes more engineering and thus more investment money, thus at a higher cost inevitably.

    As all of you might know who have been reading my articles over the least 20+ years, I will leave you with this thought; Buyer Beware and get educated.

    Here's how it all boils down:

    Ingress Protection (IP) ratings are developed by the European Committee for Electro Technical Standardization (CENELEC) (NEMA IEC 60529 Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures - IP Code), specifying the environmental protection the enclosure provides.

    The IP rating normally has two (or rarely three) numbers:

    1. Protection from solid objects or materials
    2. Protection from liquids (water)
    3. Protection against mechanical impacts (commonly omitted, the third number is not a part of IEC 60529)

    Example - IP Rating
    With the IP rating IP 54 as an example, 5 describes the level of protection from solid objects and 4 describes the level of protection from liquids. An "X" can used for one of the digits if there is only one class of protection, i.e. IPX1 which addresses protection against vertically falling drops of water e.g. condensation.

    IP First number - Protection against solid objects

      0 / No special protection
      1 / Protected against solid objects up to 50 mm, e.g. accidental touch by persons hands.
      2 / Protected against solid objects up to 12 mm, e.g. persons fingers.
      3 / Protected against solid objects over 2.5 mm (tools and wires).
      4 / Protected against solid objects over 1 mm (tools, wires, and small wires).
      5 / Protected against dust limited ingress (no harmful deposit).
      6 / Totally protected against dust.

    - continued below --

    RENOLIT Calendered Vinyl - Top performance for various applications

    IP Second number - Protection against liquids

      0 / No protection.
      1 / Protection against vertically falling drops of water e.g. condensation.
      2 / Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15o from the vertical.
      3 / Protected against direct sprays of water up to 60o from the vertical.
      4 / Protection against water sprayed from all directions - limited ingress permitted.
      5 / Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions - limited ingress.
      6 / Protected against temporary flooding of water, e.g. for use on ship decks - limited ingress permitted.
      7 / Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 1 m.
      8 / Protects against long periods of immersion under pressure.

    IP Third number - Protection against mechanical impacts (commonly omitted, the third number is not a part of IEC 60529)

      0 / No protection.
      1 / Protects against impact of 0.225 joule (e.g. 150 g weight falling from 15 cm height).
      2 / Protected against impact of 0.375 joule (e.g. 250 g weight falling from 15 cm height).
      3 / Protected against impact of 0.5 joule (e.g. 250 g weight falling from 20 cm height).
      4 / Protected against impact of 2.0 joule (e.g. 500 g weight falling from 40 cm height).
      5 / Protected against impact of 6.0 joule (e.g. 1.5 kg weight falling from 40 cm height).
      6 / Protected against impact of 20.0 joule (e.g. 5 kg weight falling from 40 cm height).

    Now with all of the facts on the table, go out and make wise decisions going forward.

    Fritz Meyne, Jr
    Vice President Sales
    Bitro Group, Inc.

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