Complete Guide to IP Rating

Complete Guide to IP Rating

Yarina Li
Yarina Li
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.

What is an IP rating? What does it mean? How does the rating system work? We understand there are many questions regarding IP rating and to help you understand it better, we have created this guide to explain what is IP rating.

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 product's 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 Rating Chart
The dust protection (first digit) will range from 1 to 6 value. As this number increases, the product's ability to withstand foreign objects/dust 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 that must be followed during the test. The stringent testing procedure of the IP Code ensures standardization between testing facilities around the world.

Sometimes, there might be a letter at the end of the code IPXX. This is the supplementary letter and it can be used to denote the supplementary information from the product standard. Please check the chart below for more information:

IP Rating

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. Sometimes there is rating IP68M and IP69K, which means it passed both tests. 

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 IP69K. 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. We have a new product PA-10 with the highest IP rating IP68M and IP69K. It is able to operate underwater and able to withstand high-pressure water jet when it’s not in motion. This is the highest IP rating product that we carried.

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 of 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. However, IP69K is rated for high-pressure, high-temperature wash-down conditions. It has been designed to handle the most extreme condition. 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. However, for the PA-10 model, it has an IP rating of IP68M, which means the actuator is able to operate underwater.

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 would like any additional information on our products and their IP ratings, please reach our customer sales team at sales@progressiveautomations.com.

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