What Does IP Rating Mean?

February 23rd 2017
IP Rating

IP Ratings Explained.

You’ll notice that most construction equipment such as laser levels, laser tapes and total stations have an IP rating, but what does that actually mean?

In a nutshell it’s how weather / environment proof the equipment is, if it will get clogged with dust on the build site or seize up at the first rain shower of the day.

IP Rating stands for Ingress Protection, essentially how dust proof and water proof the equipment housing is.

This IP Ratings Chart explains how the ratings work:

IP

X

X

Ingress Protection  FIRST DIGIT = PROTECTION AGAINST DUST  SECOND DIGIT = PROTECTION AGAINST WATER
0: No Protection
1: Protection against solids up to 50mm
2: Protection against solids up to 12mm
3: Protection against solids up to 2.5mm
4: Protection against solids up to 1mm
5: Protection against dust, limited ingress
6: Totally protected against dust
0: No protection
1: Protected against dripping water
2: Protected against dripping water (tilted)
3: Protected against water spray
4: Protected against splashing water
5: Protected against water jets
6: Protected against a nozzle under pressure
7: Protected against immersion (1m for 30min)
8: Protected against submersion (at depth, under pressure)

From the chart we can see that, technically speaking, the dust spec has 7 different levels, level 0 to level 6 and the water spec has 9 different levels, level 0 to level 8.  But, practically speaking, all rugged instruments will have dust protection level of at least 5 and water protection level of at least 4.

Nevertheless at the operational ends of the scale, the levels can make a big difference.  For example, a dust level of 5 means that some dust can get into the unit, whereas a level 6 unit is completely dust proof.  To take another example, an IP67-rated unit is totally dust proof and is capable of immersion in water to a depth of 1metre, for at least 30 mins.

This unit would be an excellent choice in either a very dusty or dirty environment or one where the unit could possibly be dropped into an open drain or a body of surface water on a building site.  On the other hand, an IP rating of IP54 is only protected in a limited way to dust and water and should never be fully immersed.

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