IP Ratings in Actuators: What It Means and How to Use It
IP Ratings in Actuators: What It Means and How to Use It

IP Ratings in Actuators: What It Means and How to Use It


Are you still wondering how IP rating can influence the way you use your actuator? Well, let us start with the explanation of what IP rating is and how you can use it to select the best solution for you.

Actuators are made for specific applications in specific environments. While some would function correctly in heat or frost, others would not and might even put you under the risk of injury.

To determine what actuator can work in which conditions, IP ratings exist. The IP rating shows which environments your actuator is best to operate in.

Image of  text "IP 55" Ingress Protection

What does IP Rating Mean?

IP means Ingress Protection. The rating is indicated by two numbers. For example, IP55 means the ingress protection rating of five and five, not fifty-five like many non-specialists believe. Every number means a different thing. Sometimes, you might see three numbers that follow IP. It happens rarely, but some actuators have it.

So, here we go, with a detailed explanation of what each number means.

The first number shows the protection level against solids. It might range from 0 to 6.

  • 0 – means that the actuator doesn’t have any specific protection;
  • – means that the actuator is protected from solids above 50mm, for example, from an accidental touch by hand;
  • 2 – the actuator is protected from any solids above 12mm, for example, from an accidental touch by fingers;
  • 3 – the actuator is protected against solids above 2.5mm, for example, tools;
  • 4 – protection against solids above 1mm, for example, nails;
  • 5 – protection against dust, no harmful deposits;
  • 6 – total protection against dust.

The second number shows the protection against moisture. It ranges from 0 to 8 and means the following:

  • 0 – not protected against moisture;
  • 1 – protection against condensation, water drops that are falling vertically;
  • 2 – protection against sprays of water that fall up to 15 0 from vertical;
  • 3 – protection against sprays of water that fall up to 60 0 from vertical;
  • 4 – protection against sprays of water that are splashed from all directions, limited ingress;
  • 5 – protection against jets of water under low pressure, they might come from all directions;
  • 6 – protection from strong jets of water coming from all directions;
  • – the actuator can be immersed for the time up to 30 minutes to the depth up to 1 meter;
  • 8 – protection from prolonged immersion under high pressure. Normally, specific features are indicated by a manufacturer. There might be included the values of fluctuations of temperature, flow rate, and whatever the manufacturer might add;
  • 9 – protection against strong jets of water, high temperatures, steam-cleaning procedures, wash-down procedures. Such actuators are normally used for road vehicles. 

Table IP (Ingress Protection)

As you can see, sometimes, a letter might be added. Letters have their meanings:

D – Wire;

F – the actuator is oil-resistant;

H – is for “High-voltage apparatus”;

M – means “Device in motion”;

S – is for “Device is standing still”;

W – is used for “Certain weather conditions”;

 means that the actuators can withstand high pressure, wash-down, and high temperatures.

Table IP (Ingress Protection)

What Is Limited Complete Protection?

It might sound illogical for non-specialists. However, it means exactly what it tells: if you use an actuator with limited complete protection, your item will be protected when a specific event happens, but during a limited time only. For example, if there is a flood, your actuator will be protected during some time only. So, don’t wait too long until the problem is solved. IP rating protects not only the component but the user, too.

Weatherproof Is not Waterproof

Sometimes, actuators come with such characteristics as “weatherproof”, “waterproof”, and some people still believe that it is the same. But if you want your actuator to work properly in a specific environment, you shall distinguish these two terms.

“Weatherproof” means that the actuator can be protected from small splashes of water falling vertically or with a small inclination. It is ok for outdoor use, for example, for solar panels. “Waterproof” means that the actuator is resistant to water jets and might allow for limited or even extended submersion. These terms give a hint about where the actuator can be used. However, to be sure about its specific applications, please refer to the actuator IP rating chart.

Pay Attention to Cabling

Actuators come normally with cabling included. You might also prefer to use your own cabling. It is perfectly ok. However, in both cases, there is one thing to consider. Make sure you use the cabling based on the IP rating of your actuator. For example, if you use an actuator with IP54 and install it on the roof, it is fine. But check that the cabling doesn’t pass the areas where it can be submerged in water. If it happens, change your actuator for the one that allows submersion.

Final Thoughts

To make sure your actuator will operate properly during all of its service life, select an actuator with IP rating appropriate to the environment. Check both numbers. If you have doubts, it is recommended to consult with a specialist. Every company has customer support online, and they will be happy to assist you in the selection of the right item.

Anna Sapiga

AZ Engineer