What is an IP66 rating and how are they derived?

Or, why do electrical enclosures have an IP66 rating?

IP66 rating image by franz12 (via Shutterstock).
IP66, the standard for electrical applications, including enclosures. Image by Franz12 (via Shutterstock).

From an early age, we are taught how plugs shouldn’t be unplugged with wet hands. We are also taught how and why wires should be kept in pristine condition. The most obvious reason? To prevent electrocution, fires, and other dangers that will occur. Wiring and other electrical items of any description need to be kept in watertight enclosures. These conform to an IP66 rating.

About the IP66 rating

The ‘IP’ in IP66 stands for two possible terms: Ingress Protection and International Protection. Details of which are published by the International Electrotechnical Commission under IEC Standard 60529 (or BS 60529 under British Standards).

IP rating numbers are based on three factors:

  • Solid particle protection;
  • Liquid ingress protection;
  • Other protections.

There was also another integer for mechanical installations, known as Mechanical impact resistance. This is now obsolescent. Under the Other Protections criteria, the following letters may be used:

  • f: Oil resistance;
  • H: High voltage device;
  • M: Movement of device during water test;
  • S: Steady device during water test;
  • W: Weather conditions.

A product with an IP66 rating is detailed as being dustproof and waterproof. For electrical applications, and external enclosures, these factors are most important.

Therefore, for obvious reasons, electrical enclosures need to be weatherproof. They need to be protected against rain, and many of the extreme weather conditions we have experienced in the last week.

Not just electrical enclosures…

With many people living increasingly mobile lives, the trusty smartphone (for example) takes a lot of stick from the elements. So much so that IP66 ratings are being found in consumer electronics products. Especially smartphones, digital tablets, and cameras.

Total Control and Distribution, 23 November 2016

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