IP Ratings and LED Lighting

Searching for IP rated LED Strip Lights and light casings can be fishy business. That is unless you know exactly what an IP is and what it means.
IP's are a classification system used to rate the protective capabilities of mechanical casings and electronic closures against the intrusion of solid objects, dust, accidental contact and moisture. Anything from a plug socket casing to an LED Strip Light have IP ratings.
The main purpose of IP ratings is to give customers accurate information about the electrical items they are buying and under what conditions they can be used. This is instead of relying on terminology such as 'waterproof' and 'splash-proof', which can be vague and sometimes misleading.
An IP rating consists of the letters 'IP' followed by two numbers. The IP is short for Ingress Protection, while the two numbers are a grade describing the level of protection. For instance, you might find that an LED Strip Light is rated 'IP 65.'
The first number denotes 'solid particle protection.' It refers to the level of protection an enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts, such as circuitry and moving parts. This is measured on a scale of 0-6, with 0 meaning no protection at all and 6 meaning complete protection.
The second number denotes 'liquid ingress protection.' It refers to the level of protection offered against the entry of moisture. In this case the scale ranges from 0 to 8. A rating of 0 means that internal equipment is unprotected. Anything below 6 means that it is unsuitable for submersion but can withstand varying degrees of exposure to moisture, such as splashes and jets. Anything above 6 means the item can be submerged at varying depth for specified periods of time.
With this in mind we can refer back to the IP 65 rating mentioned earlier. LED Strip Lights with this particular IP have a resin coating that has a solid particle protection of 6 and a liquid ingress protection of 5. That means the internal components cannot be reached without breaking the resin coating and it can also withstand jets of water from any direction without adverse effect.
However, it also means the LED Strip Lights would not be suitable for complete submersion in water. On some ratings you might see the inclusion of an additional letter, which denotes how tamper resistant an object is.
So, as you can see, IP ratings are here to help you make informed decisions about what type of lighting you are buying. Always pay attention to the items you buy and if there isn't an IP Rating get in contact with the retailer.

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