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What Is the Difference Between IP20 and IP65 Protection?


When working with electrical equipment, it is very common to see IP ratings applied to a variety of components. As part of the International Electrotechnical Commission's (IEC) standards for electronics, IP ratings are designed as a universal scale to measure the ingress protection level of each component, which can help to ensure that a particular part is suitable for a specific application.

Some installations are more challenging than others, and require components with a higher ingress protection rating that are secure from dust, foreign bodies and moisture, while in other cases a part may only need to be resistant to ingress by fingers or other body parts. Once you understand how the ingress protection rating scale works, it is simple to determine the level of protection each part offers.

Two of the most common ratings are IP20 and IP65. Each rating establishes not only the level of protection afforded by the part in question but indicates the types of applications for which it is suitable. To understand the differences between IP20 and IP65 and the appropriate applications for each, you must first know how the ingress protection rating scale works.

Here, the experts at Northern Connectors have produced a guide in order to answer the question: "What does IP rating mean?" We will explain the IP rating system in detail so that you can interpret the code, understand the differences between IP20 and IP65, and choose the product with the most appropriate protection level for your needs.

How can I understand IP ratings?

In basic terms, an IP rating consists of "IP" followed by two digits. The first digit will be between 0 and 6 and refers to the security of a part against ingress by foreign bodies and solid objects - so, a 1 on the scale will indicate that a component is resistant to larger objects or body parts, while a 5 indicates rudimentary dust protection.

The second digit indicates the level of water protection that a component offers. At the low end of the scale, a 1 means protection from vertically falling water drops, while at the high end, an 8 denotes that a component is resistant to continuous submersion in water, and a 9 means that a part is protected against powerful jets of high-temperature water.

What is IP20?

The rating ‘IP20’ stands for ‘Ingress Protection Two Zero’ – but what does this actually mean? To put it simply, the 2 means that the product has the second level rating for ingress by solid objects, while the 0 means that it has no protection against ingress by moisture or liquids.

A product with an IP20 rating tells you that it has ingress protection up to 12.5mm against solid bodies such as fingers or dust. However, this rating also signifies that the product is not waterproof, which lets you know that it won’t be suitable for outdoor applications.

As IP20 is at the lower end of the scale, it’s designed for less challenging environments, while IP65 is at the higher end of the scale, and can therefore be used in a wider range of applications.

It’s important to check and understand the IP rating of electronic equipment and/or its housing before purchasing it for installation in a particular setting. Using IP20 equipment in a situation that requires a much higher level of ingress protection can be a costly mistake if it results in damage to your property and expensive repairs – so make sure you choose an IP rating accordingly.

How do these ratings apply to IP20 and IP65?

To be specific, an IP20 protection rating indicates that something is resistant to ingress by objects over 12.5mm in length, but offers no water protection whatsoever. It is common to use IP20 fittings for indoor lighting in living rooms and dining rooms, where there is little risk of ingress, but they should not be used for bathrooms because they are not water resistant and may not remain secure against even limited ingress by low-pressure water jets, let alone spray or airborne moisture. They are also unsuitable for outdoor lighting because of the risk of ingress by dirt, organisms and rain.

IP65 offers much greater protection against both solid objects and water ingress. The first digit is a 6, indicating complete protection of the highest level against dust and other fine matter. At a 5, the second digit also indicates a strong level of water protection, establishing that the part or component that has achieved this rating is protected against water jets, spraying water and vertically falling drops. While higher levels of protection are available, they are uncommon for household applications and are only typically necessary for specialised equipment or offshore use.

What are the different applications for IP20 and IP65?

Thanks to being dust-tight and offering a strong level of moisture protection and security against water ingress, lighting components with the IP65 rating are typically used for bathroom and kitchens. They will also be much more effective for outdoor use than IP20 fixtures, and this is the primary difference between IP20 and IP65-rated products. While you could feasibly use IP65 in all circumstances for extra protection, it is not usually necessary or economical to do so, so it is best to understand the differences between IP20 and IP65 and choose the most appropriate rating for each circumstance.

Now that you understand how the IP rating scale functions, you can also easily understand that the difference between, for example, IP65 and IP68 is that the latter offers a higher level of moisture protection. More information about the specific level of protection indicated by each number on the scale can be found in our IP ratings guide.

Find out more

If you want to know more about IP ratings or need guidance with selecting a suitable solution for your application, Northern Connectors is here to help.

We stock a electrical solutions with a range of IP ratings from leading suppliers such as CONEC, HARTING, Hirschmann and Weidmüller

You can explore the IP Ratings section of our website, call us on 01744 815001, or complete our online contact form and we will be in touch at the nearest opportunity.

Technical expertise is just a click away. For rapid service & personalised support, complete the following form or call 01744 815 001

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