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IP Protection Level: Understanding What It Is & Debunking Common Misconceptions

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IP level, also known as Ingress Protection Level, is an important metric to assess the reliability of pushbuttons. However, there is plenty of misconception out there that are being exploited by manufacturers to promote their products wrongly. So, what does it mean when you buy an IP66 product? Why do you need to consider IP levels when buying a product? How do you choose the right one based on the IP protection level mentioned in the catalog? We will discuss all these things and more in the article below. 

What is IP Rating?

Ingress protection rating, or IP ratings, is the optimum level of protection that an electrical enclosure provides to you against solids and liquids. If you live in an environment where dust and rain damage could damage your electrical components, it is recommended to invest in a good quality sealed enclosure to protect your house from such ingress. They are mostly used for applications that are not only exposed to a harmful environment but also dust and moisture. 

What Does IP Rating Mean?

The letters ‘IP’ are succeeded by two numbers that indicate the level of protection that the enclosure offers. The numerals represent the sealing effectiveness of the enclosure against intrusive foreign elements. Each number that follows the IP rating has a specific meaning. 

The first number indicates the level of protection of people from moving parts and enclosed equipment from dirt, dust, etc. The second digit defines the protection level from various kinds of moisture, such as sprays, drips, oil, etc. For example, the IP66 rating represents that the enclosure will protect against ingress of dust and protected against powerful water jets or heavy seas. 

Common Misconceptions About IP Levels

Here are the most common misconceptions about IP ratings:

  • IP67 Provides Better Protection Than IP66

Testing a product by submerging it in water and checking if it still works is not an accurate representation of the level of protection. It also needs to prove its resistance to powerful water jets. For example, if you submerge a sheet of plastic underwater, it will survive the immersion. However, if you put it under a water jet, it may get tattered and will not be usable anymore. 

Similarly, when you accidentally immerse an IP67 product in water, it will still work. But it comes in contact with a high-speed water jet, and it may break. Therefore, a product that is only IP67 will not make the cut. For complete protection against water damage, it should be both IP66 and IP67. Be sure to look for these protection ratings on the datasheet. 

  • IP69K and IP69 Are The Same

IP69K standard was defined in 1993. However, IP69 came much later in 2013. Even though there are very small differences in their testing techniques, an IP69K product can pass the IP69 test. But if you notice that your product only has IP69K protection, then it means that the product manufacturer only has one former standard applied to it. 

With more and more standards applicable on IEC, an IP69K product will one day become saleable in Germany only! So, it is always better to invest in an IP69 product, even if it has the dual certification. 

Now you know what it means when you see an IP67 or IP66 rating on a product. It essentially means that it protects against dust and also some level of protection of water, depending on the number assigned to the protection rating. It is also important to note that most of these tests about water resistance are carried out in laboratory conditions that are a lot different from what one faces outside. 

Therefore, it is always better to rely on an expert’s judgment and guidance when looking for products with IP ratings.