IP or Ingress Protection is a rating scale which essentially ranks a light source by how effectively it is protected from exterior elements such as liquids or solid objects. It is a rating that will dictate how much moisture or external force the light fixture can safely come into contact with without effecting the light source.
It is a rating that you should pay special attention when choosing your lighting for bathroom areas, or other interior wet rooms . It is also a rating system you should especially pay attention to for your exterior lighting selections.
So what is this rating system? The IP rating system usually has 2 numbers that follow the initials I and P. The first number indicates the level of protection from solid objects that a particular light source has ( like dust, hands, fingers, tools etc.. ) and will be a digit from 0-6, while the second number indicates how water-resistant the light is to exposures of sprays to splashes, all the way up to full immersion . This second digit will be in a range of 0-8.
The higher the number in both digits, the more protection the light source has from solids and levels of water exposure. For instance, IP11 offers protection against the intrusion of solid objects larger than 50mm in size (solid) as well condensation (liquid).
When it comes to bathroom lighting, Because IP rating is determined by measuring the light’s proximity to a water source, it can be helpful to think about your bathroom in terms of the lighting zones created for these purposes.
Zone 0 is the area inside a bath or shower . This require a min. of a IP67
Zone 1 is the areas above the bath & inside enclosures to a height of 2.25m. They need A min. rating of IP44 .
Zone 2 is the area outside the bath and above 2.25m. So this zone has a little more freedom of choice for ratings, but if splashes and sprays are inevitable, a good rule of thumb is to stick to fixtures having the ratings of IP44. These will work in most areas of a washroom being fully splash-proof and protected against the intrusion of solid objects over 1mm in size.
Now when it comes to your outdoor lighting – these lights will come in contact with all sorts of external forces including being accidentally touched or stepped on, deliberate tampering, accidental force from tools and spades, wildlife activity, dust, dirt and wiring. And that’s not to mention rain, wind and water submersion. All of these elements can cause damage and cause malfunctioning in your outdoor lighting if it doesn’t have the correct level of protection for where it is placed - and the elements it comes into contact with.
So, for example, a standard path light will need to be sufficiently protected from physical force and moderate water contact, BUT will NOT need to be protected against full submersion. In contrast, pond lights or swimming pool lights need the protection against full submersion - but is less likely to come into regular contact with tools and other sharp objects. This is why outdoor lights vary in IP ratings depending on their intended use.
Yep, it can sound complicated for ratings, but here is a guide for outdoor lights:
Standard garden lights such as path lights, uplights and tree lights should have a minimum rating of IP44. The ‘4’s’ ensures your lights are protected against splashing and forceful water contact, while also protecting them from all levels of physical contact from objects.
Your deck and patio lights require a higher level of protection due to the fact that they are often walked upon and jet-washed. You should aim for a minimum of IP65.
And If you’re lighting up your ponds, water features or swimming pools you will need to install lights with a minimum IP68 rating. This will ensure the lighting in these areas are adequately waterproofed and also able to withstand higher surrounding pressure.
We've included a chart for your reference here, but don't forget we are here to help! Not only do we offer a variety of light fixtures including chandeliers, pendants, wall, recessed lights and many exterior lighting options too from our Toronto Lighting Store, we can help you choose the most suitable light fixture with the correct IP ratings or their installation location in your space.