More and more people are becoming familiar with IP ratings, however, if you want to have a quick reference, please bookmark this page so you can quickly refer back whenever you need clarification.
The IP rating system was introduced to try and provide more accurate guidelines as to what level of protection a product has. A sales leaflet who's vague marketing simply says 'waterproof' doesn't really explain to what extent the product has been tested. So a standard was created to give users greater information to determine the actual level of protection the device has been tested to.
The first number represent the level of protection against hazardous parts - (moving parts - solid objects)
0 = No protection
1 = Objects larger than 50mm (hands etc)
2 = Objects larger than 12.5mm (fingers etc)
3 = Objects larger than 2.5mm (tools, thick wire etc)
4 = Objects larger than 1mm (wires etc)
5 = Dust protected (does not mean 100% proof, but no harmful quantities of dust will enter to interfere with the functioning of the product)
6 = Dust tight - no ingress of any dust
The second number represents the level of protection aginst ingress of water
0 = No protection
1 = Dripping water will have no effect
2 = Dripping water will have no effect if the device is angle at 15 degrees from normal position
3 = Water spraying up to an angle of 60 degrees shall have no effect
4 = Water splashing against the device at any angle will have no harmful effect
5 = Water projected from a nozzle of 6.3mm against the device at any angle will have no harmful effect
6 = Water projected from powerful jets of 12.5mm against the device at any angle will have no harmful effect
6K = Water projected from powerful jets of 12.5mm with increased pressure against the device at any angle will have no harmful effect
7 = Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when immersed in 1M of water under specified time and pressure
8 = Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when immersed continuously in conditions advised by the manufacturer
9K = Protection against high pressure at close range with high temperature spray downs
A German standard created to even more accurately detail wash down protection. The DIN 40050-9 extends the IEC 60529 rating standard. This calls for high temperature wash downs, the device must also be dust tight and comply with IP6x standards. THe IP69K test specifies the device must undergo a 80 degree hot water test at 80-100Bar pressure at a flow rate of 14-16 L/min. The nozzle is held at 10cm away from the device at four different angles (0, 30, 60, 90 degrees) for 30 seconds.
You might find some datasheets detail a product as 'IPx4'. This does not mean the product is not protected. The fact the item has been tested to '4' (water splashing against the device) indicates protection against ingress of water, even though a rating for the protection against solids has not formally been assigned.
Additionally, an item which is advised as being IP67 (immersion in water for a temporary period), does not mean the the product will be adequately protected against jets of water (IP66). In such instances some manufacturer might show an item as being IP66/IP67 rated, thus indicating it has been tested to both standards.
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Regards the team at Selectronix