IP rating for outdoor use

IP Ratings

IP ratings can be confusing, but it's essential to bear in mind when shopping for outdoor lighting. This simple guide will provide you with all the information you need to buy with confidence, whether you're in the market for deck lights, pool lights or anything in between.

What is an 'IP rating'?

An IP rating or Ingress Protection mark indicates the level of protection your mechanical or electrical device has against dirt (or other solid objects) and moisture. You may be familiar with other marketing terms used instead of such as 'waterproof', 'weatherproof' and 'water resistant. Whilst these can give you some indication of what protection your device will have, it doesn't give you much detail, this is essentially what they're designed for.

IP rating chart

IP Ratings Explained

What rating do I need for my outdoor lights?

The answer to this question will depend on what you intend to use your lights for. A standard garden light, such as path lights, tree lights and others used in your garden for general use need a minimum of IP44. This will protect your light from anything solid such as wires or screws and splashing/spraying water. This should be enough for most purposes, if you feel your light will need extra protection, there's no harm in aiming a little higher.

Something to take note of is that anything beyond IPX6 doesn't necessarily guarantee a higher level of protection. IPX7 and IPX8 are aimed explicitly at the immersion properties and thus may not offer the protections earlier in the standard.

Deck lights and patio lights will require a higher level of protection as they're walked on and jet-washed. An IP65 rating should be the minimum for these.
If you're planning to light up a water feature, pond, or swimming pool, you'll need a light with at least an IP68 rating.

This will ensure the light can be submerged for an extended period and at depth of over 1m and will be protected from any dust or harmful substance potentially in the water.

What does waterproof and weatherproof mean?

Unfortunately, because waterproof and weatherproof are general terms and are not backed up by any hard science, marketing for outdoor lights will tend to use them over IP ratings to potentially hide any downfalls in the product. IP-rated lights can also potentially turn a customer away due to their technical nature.

Generally, anything considered 'waterproof' for general purposes are IP65, IP66, and IP67. 'Weatherproof' is commonly misconceived as needing the highest rating for moisture, this isn't always the case as rain will tend to fall vertically and an IPX2 or IPX3 will generally be enough to protect against average rainfall.

For more information on IP ratings for uses other than outdoor lighting, see RS Components

Our Recommendations

We have a fantastic range of outdoor lights in our collection, with the help of this guide, you'll be able to shop with ease.

Lutec Qubo Outdoor LED Wall Light

This LED wall light is a fantastic option to illuminate your garden, with a combination of modern and classic design, the Qubo is an attractive LED wall light with understated elegance. The large opal diffuser radiates with a warm glow to create an alluring atmosphere and a strong architectural statement. These fixtures have a sleek finish and are perfect for any style porch, patio, or balcony. This wall light is rated IP54 rated.

Forum Lighting Scout Surf Mount Ground Light

This ground light is an excellent choice for your patio. IP67 rated, it is protected from all dust and dirt, something vital for a light that's going to be walked on, it is also rated well for protection from moisture. A solid option.

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