IP ratings explained
Understanding where to use IP-rated lights indoors and out.
Lights are given a universal IP (Ingress Protection) rating so you can tell if they’re safe to use around dirt and water.
But how do you know what the rating means?
In short, you’ll find two numbers following the ‘IP’ part.
The first number refers to dirt, dust and other solid objects. It’s commonly replaced by an X for indoor spaces, including bathrooms.
The second number refers to water.
The higher these numbers, the better the level of protection against each.
Most lights inside your home will be rated IP20. It’s a basic level of protection that’s fine for bedrooms, living rooms, hallways and so on.
You can also use lights with this rating above a kitchen or utility sink, so long as they’re installed more than 60cm from the tap.
But when you’re looking for lights for your bathroom and for your outdoor spaces, the IP rating needs to be higher – and more carefully considered.
Having the right IP rating is essential for certain areas of your bathroom.
Bathrooms are split into zones, and the IEE (Institution of Electrical Engineers) wiring regulations set out what types of lighting can be safely used in each one.
Zone 0 is the area inside a bath or shower tray. Lights here must have a rating of IP67 and be a maximum of 12 volts.
Zone 1 extends directly above the bath to a height of 225cm measured from the floor. It also includes the inside of a shower cubicle (but excluding the tray). These lights must be rated IP65 or higher.
Zone 2 is inside a 60cm perimeter of the bath or shower (and still to a height of 225cm from the floor). It also includes the area around your sink, but specifically within a 60cm range of the tap. Lights in this zone need to be rated IP44 or higher.
Zone 3 is anywhere outside zones 0, 1 and 2. These areas are also known as ‘outside zones’. You don’t need to worry about the IP rating here.
At the very least, all outdoor lights should have a rating of IP23.
IP23/33 rated lights will offer sufficient protection from rain or spraying water, but they aren’t completely splashproof.
If your lights have an opening at the bottom (to let you change the bulb), keep them away from sprinklers, hose pipes or other areas that could be exposed to an upward water spray.
IP44 rated lights are fully splashproof – providing protection from rain or spraying water from any direction.
Our small Richmond and Claremont fixed wall lights are IP54 rated, so you can safely use them in zone 2 of your bathroom, and anywhere outdoors.
The medium versions of these lights are rated IP44. Both are still suitable for use in zone 2 of your bathroom. Unlike our fluted glass style, you can’t use the medium Claremont with fine porcelain shades outside because we’ve left the shades open, rather than sealing them, to create a nicer light.
You can also use our Malvern wall light in zone 2 of your bathroom (it’s rated IP54 too), but because of the linen shade, it isn’t suitable for exterior use.
Our Ealing garden spotlights, meanwhile, are rated IP56. Whether you opt for the surface-mounted styles or the ground or path variations, they’re all designed specifically for outdoor use.
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