IP & IK Ratings: What it Means for your Lights
When it comes to choosing lights for any kind of project, those in charge of making the decisions often find themselves confronted with a variety of metrics; lumens, wattage, CRI, beam angle, etc… However a metric that is often overlooked despite its importance is the IP and IK ratings of the lights.
The IP (Ingress Protection) rating refers to the light's ability to withstand water and dust particles. IP ratings don’t exclusively apply to lighting, most electronic devices, specifically handheld ones also have an IP rating, to inform the end user what types of physical environments to avoid whilst using the device.
Formatted as a two digit number each digit of an IP rating has a specific reference to what it's capable of withstanding. The first digit ranges from 1-6 and refers to the size of solid items that can get through the outer casing of the device, with 6 being the highest this means that the device is impenetrable to things such as dust. The second digit refers to how much water the device can withstand, and this ranges from 1-8, 8 being almost entirely waterproof.
A good reference for an IP rating would be the latest iPhone 13, with an IP rating of 68 little to no dust can enter the inner part of the device, and can be submerged underwater for a significant amount of time without sustaining any damage. Which means that if a lightbulb, fixture or profile has an IP rating of 68, it can withstand just as much water and dust as the iPhone 13.
Next is the IK rating, which demonstrates exactly how much force an item can withstand. While the IK rating also has two digits, it differs from the IP because each digit does not correspond to the resistance of a specific element. Instead it is a more straightforward 0-10 scale. 0 meaning that the item can only handle a 0.15 joule impact, meanwhile a 10 can resist a 20 joule impact, which is the equivalent of dropping a 10KG weight from a height of 40cm.
The reason these metrics are important with respect to lighting is so that you can accurately specify which types of light bulbs need to go where. Oftentimes people can be cornered into thinking that they need to acquire the highest IP or IK rated bulbs possible. Which causes them to end up spending more money than what they need to in order to ensure the same result. By having a fundamental understanding of the IP and IK ratings, not only will you be more well informed on your lighting decisions, but you’ll also be spending a more practical amount of money on your project.