When specifying certain security devices that go on the outside of the building, such as Access Control card readers and cameras, each device has an IP rating recommendation.
Quite often, I see an IP rating that is either over or under specified for the environment the installation will be deployed into.
Over specifying leads to unnecessarily increased costs, under specifying leads to issues with the system not operating correctly or components failing prematurely.
How to understand Ingress Protection ratings.
An ingress protection rating is normally expressed with the letters IP (meaning Ingress Protection), and two numbers, for example IP54.
IP ratings are defined by international standard BS EN60529.
The first digit defines protection against solid objects, the second digit defines protection against liquids.
Physical Object Protection ratings (first digit):
0 or X – No protection
1 – Protection against objects of 50mm in diameter. Non deliberate contact with a human body part, such as a hand. No protection against deliberate tampering.
2 – Protection against an object of 12mm in diameter, such as a human finger or similar objects
3 – Protection against an object of 2.5mm in diameter, such as tools or large wires
4 – Protection against an object of 1mm in diameter, such as wires or fine tools.
5 – Protection against dust ingress. Will not be 100% dust proof, but must not let sufficient dust in to affect normal operation of the device.
6 – Dust proof, completely protected against physical contact.
Moisture Protection ratings (second digit):
0 or x – No protection
1 – Protection against condensation or vertically falling water.
2 – Protection against direct sprays, or dripping water with a maximum angle of 15 degrees from vertical
3 – Protection against direct sprays, or spraying water with a maximum angle of 60 degress from vertical
4 – Protection against direct sprays, or splashing water from any direction
5 – Protection against low pressure jets of water from any direction with no harmful effects
6 – Protection against pressure jets or heavy seas from any direction
7 – Protection against immersion in water of between 15cm and 1m for up to 30 minutes
8 – Protection against prolonged immersion in water of depths over 1m
What to specify?
Now we know how the ratings are built up, we can select the most appropriate rating for the device and project we are working on.
As an example, for an access control card reader in Europe affixed to the exterior of a building with a small overhanging roof, would be best suited to an IP54 rated reader.
This would mean that the reader is able to withstand protection against dust ingress.
Therefore, the reader will not be 100% dust proof, but it must not let sufficient dust in to affect the normal operation of the device, and protection against direct sprays or splashing water from any direction.
If we then mount that reader to an external post set away from the building, for example where disabled people are required to gain access, then, an IP56 reader would be best, this would provide protection against dust ingress, and would also withstand pressure jets or heavy seas, and therefore would withstand the weather more as there is little physical protection.
Know what the IP ratings are and select the most appropriate IP rating for the device based on how it will be installed and used. Specifying IP67 readers for everything is, in the main unnecessary.
For more information on how to select and specify the correct device IP rating, contact me.