Saturday, 25 February 2012

IP rating - Dustproof

Instead of claiming a product is 'dustproof', a better way of stating it is 'protection against foreign object intrusion', as is mentioned within IEC60529. There is a reason to it, as a product is not only in danger of being harmed by intrusion of dust or sand. One look at the grills of a table fan and it is not difficult to understand that its purpose is to prevent accidental and intentional (in the case of innocent infants) access to the dangerous rotating blades of the product. 

IP rating explained - the 1st code element represents the level of protection against intrusion of foreign objects.

The 1st code element of the IP rating system ranges from 0 to 6K, and if it is not guaranteed against intrusion of foreign objects, an 'X' will take its place. The same code element affords protection against both foreign objects and access by persons.

An item with 'X' rating does not mean it is unprotected, just that it is not tested for protection against solid material intrusion. The product may be protected to a certain level but the product designers may deem the product not worth the cost to perform the test and have it certified. If a product is proven unprotected against foreign objects, then it will be assigned '0' rating.

A tabulated detail of IP rating's 1st code element.

For a protection of level 1 to 4, a certain object of diameter no more than the defined should be able to intrude into the product. Say for a IP3X product, any foreign objects with diameter more than 2.5mm will not be able to enter the confinements of the product.

Usually an IP5KX and IP6KX product is considered securely protected from most everyday objects except very fine particles, with the latter considered as achieving the definition of 'dustproof' or 'dust tight'. Both products need to be tested in a test chamber with circulating dust, and both are tested in the same way but with different pass criteria. A future article is planned with focus and elaboration on IP5KX and IPX6KX testing.

The reason why level 5 and 6 are sometimes stated as 5K and 6K is that they involved pressure during testing, although this method of rating is not often encountered and should not be confused that they differ from the usual way of stating them as only level 5 and 6. In other words IP6KX is no different from IP6X in rating and test method.

A copy of the table taken from RS Online website.

1. Wikipedia: IP code
2. Flashlight Reviews
3. RS Online

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