How Do We Know if an Electrical Item is Protected Against Water or Dust?

An IP code is a rating that indicates an electrical item’s ingress protection – the level of protection that the enclosure of an electrical item provides against the entry of foreign objects and moisture.

We’ve talked about this on the blog before, but all this talk of Hurricane (or Superstorm) Sandy has got us thinking about how we know whether an item is weather-resistant or not.

The IP Rating

The IP Code is known in the UK as BS EN 60529: 1992Specification for degrees of protection provided by enclosures.

It measures two factors: the level of dust intake and water instake an enclosure allows without harming the electricals within.

In a previous post we outlined what those ratings mean:

The IP rating: what does it mean in relation to Solid Objects and to Moisture

But how do we know that an enclosure meets these requirements? There are companies that carry out rigorous tests by simulating the conditions above using specialist equipment such as nozzles of specific jets and dust chambers.

Some representative testing measures are listed in the tables below, using information from a couple of different sources.

Test Procedures: Foreign Objects

IP Rating for Foreign Objects - test procedures

Test Procedures: Moisture 

IP Rating: testing, procedures, especially for Moisture
So how do we know if a bathroom light or an outdoor light fitting is fit for purpose? The answer is, simply: manufacturers hire people to simulate bathrooms and bad weather.

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