Environmental protection ratings for LED grow lights

LED grow lights are frequently installed in locations of condensing humidity, or in facilities where water is used for cleaning. In addition, many of these facilities can be dirty or dusty. So, what happens to an LED lighting fixture when exposed to water and dust? The answer is revealed in the fixture’s IP code.

The IP code is the International Protection Marking, sometimes referred to as the Ingress Protection Marking, which specifies the degree of protection provided against intrusion, dust, accidental contact, and water. The IP code stems from standard 60529 issued by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The purpose of the standard is to fully define a product’s environmental protection in an effort to address ambiguous marketing claims such as “waterproof.”

The IP code typically contains 2-3 alphanumeric characters that define the light fixture’s environmental protection. The codes are explained in the following tables.

IP Indication Solid Particle Protection (Required) Liquid Particle Protection (Required) Other Protections (Optional)
IP Single digit: 0-6 Single digit: 0-9 Single Letter


Solid Particle Protection

Level Sized Effective Against Description
0 No protection against ingress of objects.
1 >50 mm Any large surface of the body, but not deliberate contact with body part.
2 >12.5 mm Fingers or similar objects.
3 >2.5 mm Tools, thick wires, etc.
4 >1 mm Most wires, slender screws, large ants, etc.
5 Dust Protected Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with satisfactory operation.
6 Dust Tight No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight). A vacuum must be applied.


Solid Particle Protection

Level Protection Against Description
0 None
1 Dripping water Vertically falling drops have no harmful effect.
2 Dripping water when tilted 15-deg. Water dripping on fixture tilted at 15-degrees has no harmful effect.
3 Spraying water Water sprayed at a 60-degree angle.
4 Splashing water Water splashing against the fixture from any angle.
5 Water jets Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against fixture from any direction.
6 Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the fixture from any direction.
6K Powerful water jets with increased pressure Water projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm nozzle) against the fixture from any direction, under elevated pressure.
7 Immersion, up to 1 m depth Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the fixture is immersed in water up to 1 meter of submersion.
8 Immersion, 1 m or more depth The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer.
9K Powerful high temperature water jets Protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.

An example of a suitable IP code for a high-quality LED grow light fixture is IP66, which indicates the fixture is environmentally protected against dust and powerful water jets.

LED lighting suppliers make a variety of claims regarding environmental protection. Growers in search of LED lighting need to understand the meaning behind the IP codes to ensure the fixture they buy will meet their needs.