Skip to content

What is the minimum IP Rating for outdoor use?

If you’re looking to install an outdoor speaker system or want to add some outdoor lighting to your patio, you’ve probably seen that products labelled as “outdoor” have an IP rating attached to them (e.g., IPXX). This complete guide will explain the different numbers, going over what each digit means and what IP rating is required for outdoor use.

IP stands for ingress protection and refers to the level of protection offered by an electrical enclosure or mechanical casings against solids & liquids.

Weatherproof vs Waterproof - What's the difference?

Terms such as waterproof, weatherproof, water-resistant and water-repellent are often used to describe outdoor rated products, but they don’t really tell you a whole lot about the conditions in which the equipment is safe to use in.

IP ratings were invented so customers know exactly what they're purchasing, and what to look for based on their requirements. They allow the manufacturer to specifically define the levels of protection their equipment offers against solids and liquids.

So, what’s the difference between waterproof and weatherproof?

If a product is waterproof, that means that no water can get in or out of the enclosure.

A product labelled as weatherproof means that it can withstand light exposure to the elements.

These terms can be misleading, and it is important to make sure your equipment has an adequate IP rating before installing.

Complete Guide to IP Ratings

First things first, the IP rating consists of 2 digits, with the first digit is the rating of protection towards solids (e.g., Dust), and the second digit is the rating of protection against liquids.

The level of ingress protection towards solids can range from 1 to 6, with a higher value offering more protection. For example, a product rated as IP6X is dust-tight and has the highest level of protection against dust and other solids.

The level of ingress protection towards liquids can range from 1 to 9k, and just like with the solids rating, a higher value offers more protection. For example, a product rated as IPX8 offers protection against continuous submersion under high pressure for extended periods of time.

IP Ratings Chart

IP Ratings Table 

Minimum IP rating for outdoor use

The minimum IP rating for outdoor use will depend a lot on the conditions – whether the equipment is in a partially enclosed area or a covered area.

Based on the conditions:

IPX3 generally offers enough protection for speakers or lights that are in a partially enclosed or covered area.

IPX4 is often used as the minimum IP rating for equipment installed in more exposed outdoor spaces, so a light or speaker with a rating of IP44 would be suitable.

IPX5 will be the minimum rating if you intend on using a pressure washer to clean the equipment at any point in time.

These minimum ratings should be used as more of a guide than a strict rule, and you should contact the manufacturer of your outdoor equipment for advice before installation.

If you would like to see our extensive range of outdoor rated products, please see the relevant links below:

Outdoor Speaker Systems

Outdoor Lighting

Previous article Door Hardware Buyers Guide: Door Handles, Hinges, Locks & Latches
Next article Registered Jack (RJ) Connectors - Help Guide