Using an indoor fixture outdoors without any further thought will almost never work out. Most people would agree on that. But that raises a question: what requirements must be met in order to make a fixture suited for outdoor use? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might have hoped.
The short of it is that it depends very much on the circumstances, which vary so much that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Even the most watertight casing, made of stainless steel, can still deteriorate very quickly close to the sea, where the air is very salty.
Misinterpreting the technical specifications of a product can lead to unwanted situations where defects occur very.
What the IP-rating can tell you
That is why it is important to know exactly what those specifications stand for. Lighting fixtures have a so-called IP (ingress protection) rating. This indicates how well the product is protected against dust and water. But it is a simple case where higher automatically means better.
The first and second digits of this classification are about two very different things. The first number says something about the protection against dust or (sharp) objects up to 1 mm, the second tells you how well it protects against the ingress of water.
Below you can see exactly what the numbers in the classification stand for:
First digit (from 0 to 6): Penetration of objects and dust
- IP0X: No protection.
- IP1X: Protected against solid objects with a diameter > than 50mm.
- IP2X: Protected against solid objects with a diameter > than 12.5mm.
- IP3X: Protected against solid objects with a diameter > 2.5mm.
- IP4X: Protected against solid objects with a diameter > 1mm.
- IP5X: Protected against dust (dust free).
- IP6X: Dustproof.
Second digit (from 0 to 8): Water ingress
- IPX0: No protection.
- IPX1: Drip-proof, protected against dripping water.
- PX2: Protected against dripping water at an angle of up to 15 degrees.
- IPX3: Protected against spraying water (rainproof)
- IPX4: Protected against splashing water (splash-proof)
- IPX5: Protected against water jets (jet-proof)
- IPX6: Protected against powerful water jets, such as downpours and driving rain.
- IPX7: Protected against immersion (30 min long when immersed up to 1mtr)
- IPX8: Protected against being submerged at a specified depth (pressure watertight)
Indoors, for example in bathrooms, there are so-called zones (areas) that differ in the amount of water and water vapor that is present. Certain zones require a higher IP rating, because they are much more humid. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that means the fixtures with these IP ratings can also be used outdoors.
However, the IP rating doesn’t tell you anything about the materials of the casing itself or the electrical rating of the product. For example, if a fixture is drip-proof, that doesn’t mean it can be mounted outside against a facade in driving rain. You also have to factor in weather conditions and the UV light that radiates from the sun. These are all circumstances that must be taken into account in order to find the best suited product for a particular application.
Are you working on a project that involves outdoor lighting? Feel free to ask us for advice!