If you’re not already familiar with IP ratings, this guide will help to give you an understanding of what they represent and why they are important. Most electrical heating products have an IP rating, which indicates how protected they are against solids and liquids. The letters ‘IP’ stand for International Protection, but over time they have become more popularly associated with the term Ingress Protection. IP ratings are especially important if you are installing an electrical appliance for use in bathrooms and wet rooms, or outside where it will be exposed to the elements. You need to consider where your electric heater will be installed and whether the product’s IP rating provides an adequate level of protection for its intended use.
What do IP ratings look like?
You will see the letters “IP” followed by two digits which make up an ingress protection rating, e.g. IP24. The first digit indicates the level of protection a product has against solid objects, ranging from zero to six. “0” indicates the product has no protection from solid objects, whereas “6” indicates the unit is completely dust tight and will allow no ingress of solid objects.
The second digit indicates the protection level against water, typically ranging from zero to eight, although a 9th level was introduced in 2013. “0” indicates that a product has no protection from water ingress, whilst at the opposite end of the scale, “8” represents a product that can be fully immersed in water for long periods of time. Level 9 indicates resistance to highly pressurised, high temperature water and is only used in specific industrial applications, so it is unlikely you will find this applied to a domestic product.
Sometimes one of the digits of an IP rating may be represented by an “X”, e.g. IPX5 or IP4X. Where you see an X in the rating, this indicates that the product has not been formally tested for ingress in this category but does not necessarily mean it won’t provide protection.
What IP Rating do I need for my bathroom/wet room?
Bathrooms are split into zones 0, 1, 2 and 3. These different zones indicate proximity to water and influences what level of IP rating you will need to be safe in these areas. Most electric bathroom heaters will be installed in zones 2 or 3 – if you’re unsure which zone your installation location falls into, take a look at the information below:
Zone 0 is the area directly inside the bath or shower. Fittings within this area must be 12V SELV (safety extra low voltage) and require a minimum rating of IPX7, suitable for immersion in water.
Zone 1 is any space above the bath or shower to a height of 2.25m. As pressured jets of water are often used to clean these areas, a minimum rating of IPX5 is required in this zone. However, if you do not expect to use pressured water jets in these areas, a rating of IPX4 will suffice.
Zone 2 is any space within 0.6m of the outside edge of the bath, shower or sink. A protection rating of at least IPX4 is needed to protect against splashes of water which may reach this area.
Zone 3 is also known as a ‘no zone area’ and covers any area outside of zones 0, 1 and 2. No specific IP rating is given for this area, however, a rating of at least IPX4 is recommended to ensure that your electric heater is protected from splashes of water.
Always check individual product pages to make sure the product’s IP rating is sufficient for the location in which it will be installed. Before you crack on with installation, it’s imperative to read through the manufacturer’s guidelines concerning placement of their product in bathrooms. They may have their own recommendations in regard to zone suitability so be sure to read through any manuals thoroughly before progressing with your project.
What IP rating do I need for my outdoor heater?
Unlike bathrooms, there are no zones for outdoor areas and you will need to judge for yourself the level of protection your outdoor heater requires.
Some heaters are labelled as ‘weatherproof’ and are usually at least IPX4, which indicates they are protected against splashes of water from all directions. This will protect against rainy weather and can be used for patios and terraces that are partially exposed.
Heaters labelled ‘waterproof’ are often rated IPX5 or above and will able to withstand low pressure jets of water. This is ideal if the product is to be installed in an open area where it will be exposed to the elements. For especially harsh conditions, you may want to purchase a heater with a rating of IPX6, which can withstand powerful jets of water from all angles; products with this rating are also robust enough to be protected against heavy sprays associated with coastal or dockside locations.
If you’re still unsure, contact our sales team for further advice, or you can also consult a professional electrician.
What other considerations should I make with IP ratings?
It is highly advised that you check our IP rating chart to make sure you pick a product with the right level of protection. Though we have largely looked at the second digit of the IP rating which indicates protection from liquids, it is important not to neglect the first digit which indicates protection from solids. If you are choosing a heater for a place that is especially dusty, e.g. a factory using products with fine particles, you will need to choose a heater with a rating of IP6X. “6” is the highest rating for solids and is completely sealed from fine dust particles.
If at any point you feel unsure about the protection level required from your heater, whether it’s for bathroom heating or outdoor installation, give our friendly sales team a call. They are expert heating advisers who will be delighted to give you all the help you need to make a suitable choice for your home or business.