You often see an IP value on lighting, but what does this value or classification actually mean? IP stands for Ingress Protection or International Protection rating. The first number indicates the degree of protection against solids and the second figure the protection against moisture and dust. Usually for indoor lights such as a pendant lamp for your living room, a ceiling lamp in your bedroom or a recessed spotlight in your hallway do not need extra protection as they are IP20 and that is sufficient enough to protect against dust. However, when it comes to bathrooms and any outdoor lighting it's a different story as water and electricity cannot mix. So for these type of areas you need a higher IP value, the higher the IP classification, the better the lighting is resistant to moisture and water.
The IP classification of lamps
The following IP classification are the most common in lighting:
IP20: Dust Proof
IP21: Drip proof (cannot be in direct contact with water)
IP23: Drizzle proof (cannot be in direct contact with water)
IP44: Splash proof (suitable for bathrooms & outdoors where its covered)
IP54: Splash and Dust proof (suitable for bathrooms & outdoors where its covered)
IP65: Dust proof and protected against low pressure jets of water
IP67: Dust proof and protected against the affects of immersion up to 1m or 30mins.
IP68: Complete dust and water proof (protected against long period of immersion)
When it comes to IP classification for outdoor or bathroom use, this is divided into Zone areas where each light will need a different IP value.
Minimum IP value needed in a bathroom
Zone 1 is the bath and shower area of your bathroom. This area needs a higher IP value as there is a lot of moisture and water in which the light needs to be protected from, therefore an IP65 and above is needed with a 12V light source. The lights need to be mounted at least 225cm away from the bottom of the bath or shower.
Zone 2 is the sink and toilet area of your bathroom or enclosed shower units. This area does not require a high IP value as there is no direct contact with water when in use, therefore an IP44 applies and any lights need to be mounted 60cm from Zone 1.
Zone 3 is the areas around the bathroom where moisture can occur, this area does not have any form of direct contact with water except where condensation occurs, therefore the minimum IP value required is IP21.
Minimum IP value needed for outdoors
Outdoor lighting use can also be divided into zones. Zone 1 are fully exposed areas where a light is directly in contact with all types of weather elements such as heavy downpours, snow, wind and hail therefore the lamp must be able to withstand these elements and more. These lamps will therefore require a very high IP value where the minimum is an IP65, however if your light will be mounted in an area where it needs to be submerged deep into the ground you will require a very high IP value of at least IP67 and above.
Zone 2 for outdoor light use is where the light is mounted in an area where the lamp is not directly exposed to outside elements, these be mounted in an area where there an overhead roof or structure that provides shelter from above. These areas such as your porch with an overhead roof, sheds or garages with soffits require minimum IP value of IP44.
Zone 3 for outdoor light use is an area where the lamp is completely sheltered from outside elements. So covered roofs or large soffits, non exposed balcony or veranda where a lamp is completely protected from any form of direct contact with water or weather related elements, a minimum IP value of IP23 is required for these types of areas.