More and more people are turning to LEDs for exterior lighting. LEDs offer a versatile, low energy alternative to standard outdoor lighting systems. LED bulbs also have a long life and are mercury-free, which makes them good for the environment.

But before you use LEDs outdoors, you must check the IP rating of the fitting. This tells you whether the fitting can endure the weather conditions it’s likely to experience. In other words, the IP rating is a guide to electrical safety outdoors.

IP stands for ingress protection. Some people also refer to it as international protection. The first meaning, however, best sums up what IP measures. It rates an electrical fitting for its ability to withstand solids penetrating it, and water seeping into it. These ratings apply to all outdoor lighting enclosures, including those for LEDs.

An IP rating consists of the letters “IP” followed by two numbers. The first number is from 0-6

0 represents no protection against solids. The number 5 refers to limited dust protection, and 6 stands for total dust protection. 1 – 4 represent protection against different size objects such as tools and wire. According to the IP code, these objects may range in size from over 50mm to over 1mm.

The second number is from 0-8. These numbers show the degree of protection against water ingress. 0 indicates no protection, and 8 refers to fittings you can place under water for long periods. The remaining numbers specify resistance to different types of water flow such as low-pressure jets.

IP Ratings for LED Lighting

Suppose you intend to buy various garden fittings for LEDs. You can easily find out if the fittings are suitable for outdoor use by checking their IP ratings. For example, those with an IP rating of IP67 are completely protected against dust, and are safe for use in all weathers.

An outdoor light fitting for LEDs should always display its IP rating. If you cannot find it, or need advice about the IP code, seek advice from the retailer.

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