What Are IP Ratings? Demystifying Lighting Terms.

quizzedUnless you’re a qualified electrician, a trainee or somebody who’s already come across the term – you may not know what an IP rating means.

Like most electrical goods, lighting comes with its fair share of jargon. And the term IP rating is a prominent player in lighting slang. But what is it and how will it effect your decision buying lights?

What Are IP Ratings? Alphabetical & Numerical Breakdown.

The letters ‘IP’ stands for Ingress Protection, ie – how well protected a fitting is. After ‘IP’ comes the numbers, and it’s these collection of numbers which will play a crucial role in guiding you towards the correct grade of lighting for a particular location.

We all know that leaving a mobile phone or a credit card outside in the rain all night may just present you with problems the following morning. This is because these items were not built to perform in harsh environments. They should remain dry and safe in order to continue performing.

Lighting uses the same kind of premise. Most lights will only be able to perform indoors and away from hazards like dust and water. However some lights have been purposely built to cope with such hazards. And this is where the IP rating comes in handy because it tells you directly, without bumbling, whether or not your light can be fitted on a building site, around water or be fully submerged.

What Are IP Ratings? The Digits.

ip65 digits

The 1st Digit:

The first digit of an IP rating represents the amount of ‘solids’ (dust and dirt) a fitting can resist. For instance, if you have an IP rating stating ‘IP0_’, then your light is not fit to be placed in an area prone to dust.

However, as the numbers go higher from 0-6, you will be well on your way to finding a suitable dust resistant fitting. For example ‘IP6_’ is the highest score for an IP rating’s first digit, this will ensure your fitting is completely dust-proof.

The 2nd Digit:

The second digit of an IP rating represents the amount of water in which the fitting can succumb to. Just like the first digit an IP rating, the second digit ‘IP_0’ will mean that your light can not withstand any type of water infiltration, be it a drip or splash.

Yet if the number is high, for example ‘IP_6’, the fitting will not under perform or break in the face of water. A rating of ‘IP_7’ or ‘IP_8’ means that the light can be fully immersed into water, each digit represents the depth of water in which it can sit in.

The IP Rating First Digit Graph

ip rating dust

The IP Rating Second Digit Graph

ip rating water

What Are IP Ratings? Deciding The Right Light For Your Room.


Although the kitchen is exposed to liquids such as water from the sink or spitting oil on the pan, you don’t need to overly worry about high IP ratings for kitchen lighting. It’s very rare that a splash of water will travel from the sink up to the ceiling.

Away from dust/water, the most important thing to consider when implementing kitchen lights is the fire rating. Fire rated downlights are recommended for safety against potential fires, these lights will help to slow down the spread of a blaze. Common fire ratings include 30, 60 and 90 minutes.

Living Room:

Again, unless you bizarrely have a water fountain in your front room you’ll be OK with any kind of IP rated light.


This is ONLY for when the toilet is in a separate room to the bathroom. The toilet is a system that uses water but the water almost always stays inside the loo, meaning there is no need to stress over finding an IP rated light for a room with JUST a toilet inside.


bathroom zonesThis is the only real room INSIDE of the home which you need to carefully consider a higher IP rating for. Bathroom lighting is often split into three different zones.

Zone 3 is the least likely spot to get wet (high up/on the ceiling).

Zone 2 has an average chance of getting wet (just above a sink).

Zone 1 is almost always subject to water splashes (up above a shower/beside a bath).

Zone 1/0 is a location where it’s absolutely vital to have a high IP rating (inside a bath/shower).

For an installation going inside of a shower or bath you’ll need an IP rating with a high second digit. For example ‘IP_7’ will fully ensure a safe installation without damaging the lights performance.

Zone 2 is usually based around ‘IP_6’, ‘IP_5’ and ‘IP_4’.

Whereas Zone 3 lighting is often left to an ‘IP_4’ or ‘IP_5’ rating.


Garages which form an extension outside of the home or a busy work shop area will need to consider an IP rating with a high first digit. If wood cutting commences inside of the room then odds on there will be debris to follow.

To guarantee that your lights will continue performing to the best of their ability you’ll need to buy a light fitting with a first digit IP rating of 5 or above.


If your light is going to be place inside of the porch then you don’t need to concentrate on a specific IP rating. However, if your porch light is going to be installed outside of the home then it’s wise to prepare for the odd splash or drip from above. To quell the potential of water damage you should buy a light with an IP rating of ‘IP_4 or IP_5’.

Outside Wall:

An external wall light will need to be reinforced with a high IP rating for both the first and last digit. This will protect the light against downpours trickling down the wall and any outdoor debris infiltrating the fitting.

The most suitable IP rating for an outdoor wall light is IP65; strong at resisting dust but sufficient enough to warn off water spills and splashes.


Out in the wild of the garden you’ll need a light tough enough to withstand a barrage of rain, sleet and snow. Some IP65 models will suffice, however to be extra careful IP67 ratings are also advised.


The most vital to get right. Lights which are being submerged into water MUST have an IP rating with the second digit being as high as 8. The perfect IP rating for jacuzzi, pond, pool or hot tub lighting is IP68.

What Are IP Ratings? Doesn’t Only Apply To Lighting.

IP ratings are not only limited to lighting systems, as other electronic enclosures and housing also attach themselves with an IP rating. CCTV systems such as external cameras also possess different IP ratings to ensure safe and secure surveillance operations whatever the weather. IP ratings are even used to measure impact restrictions, these are commonly found in the third digit of an IP rating sequence.

We hope that you found this IP ratings guide useful and it has managed to answer just a few of your questions. If you’d like to find out more about what lights will work where, then please do not hesitate getting in touch with someone from our friendly customer service team.

More Helpful Articles:

5 Useful Tips & Advice On Garden Lighting

Waterproof LED Lights For Jacuzzis, Hot Tubs & Pools

The Difference Between Ambient, Task & Accent Lighting

Interview With Garden Lighting Designers: Ornamental Garden Lighting

Installing LED Strip Lights

Collingwood Lighting Brand Guide

Tools Of The Trade: Electrician Equipment


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