IP rating stands for 'Ingress Protection rating' and this helps us determine what bathroom electricals can go in particular bathroom zones. It often refers to bathroom lights and bathroom extractor fans.
An IP (Ingress Protection) number or code is used here in the UK to specify the environmental protection of enclosures around electronic equipment. These ratings are determined by specific tests.
IP ratings explained...
The IP (Ingress Protection) number is composed of two numbers:
The first number ranges from 0 - 6. This refers to the level of protection against solid foreign bodies such as dust.
The second number ranges from 0 - 8. This refers to the level of protection against water.
The higher the number, the better the protection. For example, IP44 is protected against penetration of solid objects up over 1mm and from splashes of water. An IP67 light fixture, meanwhile, is completely dust tight and can withstand temporary water immersion. Only a rating of IP68 bathroom lighting and electricals are water resistant against long periods of immersion.
The type of product that requires an IP rating in the bathroom does vary, but generally it's anything that uses electricity. This could be any sort of lighting or extractor fan fitted on the wall or within the ceilings. You need to know the minimum rating required in your chosen zone to make sure you are fitting electrics safely and legally in your bathroom.
Take a look at our diagram above to easily identify your bathroom zones.
Bathroom zones are areas where electrical equipment must offer a certain degree of protection against water. The bathroom zone number refers to the amount of water likely to be present. The lower the zone number, the higher the IP rating needs to be.
For example, Zone 0 covers areas inside baths or showers. These areas must have a particular minimum IP rating that protects against water immersion - in this case, IP67.
Bathroom zones explained...
Zone 0 is inside the bath or shower itself. Any fitting used in this bathroom zone must be low voltage, (max 12V) and be rated at least IP67 which is total immersion proof. (We do not currently have any fittings that are suitable for Zone 0)
Zone 1 is the area above the bath to a height of 2.25m from the floor. If the fitting is 240V a 3oma residual current device (RCD) must also be used to protect the circuit in this zone. An IP65 rating is recommended.
Zone 2 is an area stretching 0.6m outside the perimeter of the bath and to a height of 2.25m from the floor. In these bathroom zones an IP rating of at least IP44 is required. In addition, it is good practice to consider the area around a wash basin, within a 60cm radius of any tap, to be considered as zone 2.
Zone 3 is anywhere outside zones 0, 1, and 2 (subject to specific limits) and where no water jet is likely to be used. No IP rating is required. However, if there is a likelihood of water jets being used for cleaning purposes in zones 1, 2 and 3, a fitting rated a minimum IP65 must be used.
For more information on IP ratings and bathroom zones then we would advise checking the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations by the IEE and IET.
You should also always make sure any electrical work in your bathroom is carried out by a qualified electrician.