What Is An IP Rating?

What Is An IP Rating?

Anna Sapiga
Anna Sapiga
PA Engineer
Some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our customers have to do with IP ratings. What is an IP rating? What does it mean? How does the rating system work? That is why we wrote this guide explaining just what exactly an IP Rating is.

An International Protection Marking, also known as IP Rating/Code, is the rating of a product’s ability to withstand liquid and dust intrusion. Defined by IEC/EN 60529, the standard was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission and is recognized all over the world.

The IP Code uses a 2 digit system to define its protection rating for all products; the first digit represents protection against solids and the second against liquids. The IP Code was designed to standardize protection ratings and limit misinterpretation/misrepresentation of a products protection ability.

Once a product has completed testing at an approved facility, it will achieve a specific numeric rating which can be deciphered using the chart below:

IP Chart

The dust protection (first digit) will range from 1 to 6 value. As this number increases, the products ability to withstand foreign objects/dusts ingress increases. For example, a product that has a rating of IP2X can withstand foreign objects up to 12.5mm or greater in size, whereas an object with a rating of IP6X is dust-tight. “X” is used to designate a specific area where the product has not been tested.

The liquid protection (second digit) follows the same format but can have a value from 1 to 8. As the number increases, protection from liquid ingress increases. Units with an IPX4 rating can withstand water spray for a continuous 5 minutes. As the chart indicates, there are specific angles, pressures, and volume requirements which must be followed during the test. The stringent testing procedure of the IP Code ensures standardization between testing facilities around the world.

Some products can have multiple IP ratings, such as cellular devices. A common rating is IP55/IP57; this means that the unit was not able to pass the IPX6 liquid ingress test. If a unit lists only one rating, it indicates that it has passed all tests up to and including the specific number which is displayed.

IP Test

All Progressive Automations’ linear actuators are tested under the IEC’s (International Electrotechnical Commission) standard for Ingress Protection. Our linear actuators range from IP20 all the way up to IP66. The PA-18 Track Linear Actuator and the PA-08 Mini Track Linear Actuator both have a rating of IP20 because both have open shaft housings which would allow water to enter into the unit. This illustrates when a unit can hold against foreign objects but has zero protection against liquid. Units rated for IP66, like the PA-04 Linear Actuator and PA-09 Mini Industrial Actuator, are able to withstand both dust and liquid ingress.

Testing calls for water sprayed from a distance of 3 meters, with a 12.5mm nozzle, for 3 minutes. This is an unusual and unlikely real world application, however this type of rating typically designates a unit for use in outdoor applications. It is important to understand that units which are approved for outdoor use may not be able to handle extreme weather conditions such as temperatures and situations which involve strong waves/ pressure washing. Another note is that the IP Code does not test for outdoor/weather resistance during seasonal changes and for long periods of time (e.g. years outside during multiple seasons).

All Progressive Automations’ linear actuators are designed and tested for stationary protection. When the actuator is in motion, the strokes can pull water into the shaft housing, allowing water to penetrate the DC motor which can cause irreparable damage. It is important not to operate actuators when they are wet/damp to avoid any type of water damage.

With the International Protection Marking chart, linear actuators and other products can be chosen to suit many different applications with confidence and understanding of the products true ability. It is important to choose an appropriately rated linear actuator for its intended environment and any potential hazards that may arise. If you need any more information or would like to place an order today please contact us.
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