What are IP protection classes?
The protection class of an electronic device or equipment indicates its degree of protection for specific environmental conditions. In other words, stresses such as dust, moisture, heat, cold or vibration that the device or equipment can withstand. It also indicates the level of protection for people, for example against the potential risk of electrocution or burns from the appliance. Devices and equipment can be machines, PCs or even light sources.
What specific conditions does a protection class cover?
Harsh environmental conditions under which a device is often expected to operate for many years are defined. They include:
- Corrosion by water including water vapor, alkalis, acids, oil and fuels
- Mechanical shock load
- Contamination with viruses and bacteria (important for medical technology)
Each individual protection class represents one or more common failure modes. For example, a device may be particularly well protected against dust as well as splash and rain water, but only slightly against vibration, because this hardly plays a role at the workplace. Something like this would be assumed for surveillance cameras for outdoor use, for example.
IP codes with international standardization
International standards for the necessary protection of equipment and installations have long been established. They are classified in the International Protection Codes (IP codes). International standards change from time to time and may differ in detail from German standards. For an industrial PC, for example, protection class IP65 according to DIN EN 60529 (VDE 0470) is decisive. The first digit of an IP code stands for contact and dust protection, the second for water protection.