What IP Rating do I Need for Outdoor Lights? (And Why it Matters)

what IP rating for outdoor lights

Do you know what IP rating your outdoor lights need to have? Outdoor lighting has become ever more accessible with the development of low-voltage lighting and LED technology, but your lights will need to have a certain IP rating depending on where they will be installed and what they will be used for. Different installations and locations require different IP ratings, so let us walk you through the various IP ratings for outdoor lights to help ensure you choose the best and safest option.

What is an IP Rating?

IP stands for Ingress Protection and all lights and fittings are rated on this feature. The IP rating scale essentially ranks the light source by how effectively it is protected from exterior elements such as liquids or solid objects, and this will dictate where your lights can be installed and how much moisture or external force it can safely come into contact with.

If you’re not familiar with what an IP rating looks like, it is always indicated by the initials ‘IP’ followed by two digits. The first digit indicates the level of protection from solid objects that particular light source has, while the second digit indicates how water-resistant the light is. The higher the digits, the more protection the light source has. Both digits hold relevance for outdoor lighting, so you will need to take both into account when choosing your lighting.

Here’s a breakdown of both solids and water IP rating digits and the level of protection they indicate:

IP rating for outdoor lights

IP ratings for outdoor lights

Why Do Outdoor Lights Need Different IP Ratings?

Lights can come into contact with a great deal of external substances and objects when placed outside, especially in comparison with indoor lights. This means that, for safety’s sake, adequate protection must be in place to prevent damage to the light and, more importantly, to protect people from electric shock and injury.

When placed outdoors, your lights can come into contact with all sorts of external forces including being accidentally touched or stepped on, deliberate tampering, accidental force from tools and spades, wildlife activity, dust, dirt and wiring. And that’s not to mention rain, wind and water submersion. All of these elements can cause damage and malfunctioning in your outdoor lighting if it doesn’t have the correct level of protection for where it is placed and the elements it comes into contact with.

So, for example, a standard pathlight will need to be sufficiently protected from physical force and moderate water contact, but will not need to be protected against full submersion. In contrast, a pond light or swimming pool light will need to be protected against full submersion but is less likely to come into regular contact with tools and other sharp objects. This is why outdoor lights vary in IP ratings depending on their intended use.  

What IP Rating do I Need for My Outdoor Lights?

Not sure which IP rating you need? Here’s our basic guide to IP ratings for outdoor lights:

Standard Garden Lights

If you’re looking for standard garden lights such as path lights, uplights and tree lights you should aim for a minimum rating of IP44 or higher. The ‘4’ ratings will ensure your lights are protected against splashing and forceful water contact, while also protecting them from all levels of physical contact from objects.

Deck Lights & Patio Lights

Deck and patio lights require a higher level of protection due to the fact that they are often walked upon and jet-washed. You should aim for a minimum of IP65, which will protect your deck lighting against the highest level of dust, harmful deposits and human contact. This rating will also protect your lights against water jets, allowing for your decking and patios to be jet-washed without risking damage to the light or accidental electrocution. Please check your instructions and, if in doubt, do not jet wash your light fitting.

Water Lights

If you’re lighting ponds, water features or swimming pools you will need to install lights with a minimum IP68 rating. This will ensure your underwater lighting is low voltage, adequately waterproofed and also able to withstand higher surrounding pressure.

Follow these basic guidelines for outdoor lighting IP ratings and you’ll have a safe and well-protected lighting setup for your garden, yard or outdoor space in no time. And, now that you know what IP rating you need, you can explore our full range of outdoor lighting; a speciality of ours here at Moonlight Design. Simply filter by IP rating in the left-hand panel to find the exact rating you need.

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