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How To Understand Lighting IP Ratings For Your Home


We know that the right lighting can drastically alter the atmosphere of your home in seconds.  To help you, we want to make sure that the light you’ve picked is not only stylish but perfect for your needs. IP ratings and lighting classes can cause a minefield of confusion if you aren’t familiar with the technicalities. To make life easier, we’ve compiled a handy guide to make shopping for your next light a walk in the park.

IP Ratings

IP stands for Ingress Protection. This relates the electrical equipment and how well it is protected from dirt and water by the enclosure - we’re all aware of how dangerous a combination of water and electronics can be. When looking for an IP rating, you’ll notice the letters ‘IP’ followed by two digits, which relate to two different categories of protection. The first number will tell you how much protection the enclosure offers against foreign parts and bodies, whereas the second refers to the level of protection against moisture. A higher number means better overall protection.

First number: Protection from moving parts and foreign bodies

0 - No protection.

1 - Protects against solid objects with 50mm diameters and over (e.g. hands)

2 - Protects against solid objects with 12mm diameters and over (e.g. fingers)

3 - Protects against solid objects with 2.5mm diameters and over (e.g. tools)

4 - Protects against solid objects with 1mm diameters and over (e.g. wires)

5 - Protects against harmless dust particles.

6 - Protects against harmful dust particles completely.

X - Indicates that the protection against solid objects is not defined.

Second Number: Protection from liquids and moisture

0 - No protection.

1 - Protected against dripping water greater than 50mm (drip proof)
2 - Protected against dripping water at a max angle of 15°
3 - Protected against spraying water (rain proof)
4 - Protected against splashing water (splash proof)
5 - Protected against water jets from any direction (jet proof)
6 - Protected against heavy seas
7 - Protected against the effects of immersion between 15cm and 1m
8 - Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure

To put this into practice, any light that is located in a bath or shower basin will require a rating of IPx7, to ensure protection from immersion. A bathroom light that would be located away from any water jets, such as on the ceiling, would require a rating of at least IP20. An outdoor light, for example, would require a rating of at least IP44.

Lighting Class

When buying new lighting, you should also encounter information on lighting class. This indicates how it should be installed and also the safety it offers in the event of a fault.

Class 0 - These appliances have no protective/earth connection and possess a single layer of insulation between live parts and exposed metalwork. As such, it is recommended that, if permitted at all, these lights should ONLY be used in dry areas.

Class 1 - These appliances must have their chassis connected to the electrical earth by a separate earth conductor. The basic requirement of Class 1 appliances is to ensure that no failure can result in dangerous voltage becoming exposed and causing an electric shock. A fault in the appliance should trip an overcurrent device like a fuse or circuit breaker protecting the end user.

Class 2 - Also known as a double insulated, class 2 appliances are designed in such a way that it does not require a safety connection to the electrical earth. This is usually achieved in part by having at least two layers of insulating material between live parts and the user, or by using reinforced insulation.

Class 3 - These appliances operate at SELV (Separated Extra Low Voltage). This means that the device cannot possibly produce enough voltage to risk an electric shock. Maximum supply is 50V in SELV products and pose no threat under normal conditions.

This guide should help you to understand the various technical jargon that comes with shopping for lighting. IP Ratings help you to identify which light is suited for a particular room in your house and higher ratings are required for areas that undergo more exposure to water, such as bathroom and outdoor areas. Lighting classes on the other hand help towards giving you the information you need regarding the product and the safety measures taken to reduce the risk of electric shock. With our help, we hope that you can buy lights with confidence and get the perfect look for your home.

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