• Specification standards for classifying the degrees of protection provided by the enclosures of electrical equipment against the intrusion into the equipment of foreign bodies
• This document describes the classes of protection, and the standards and certification
• Independent certification is important when customers require an objective classification and comparison of devices
INTERNATIONAL APPLICABLE STANDARD
IEC/EN 60529 is an international set of test specification standards for classifying the degrees of protection provided by the enclosures of electrical equipments against the intrusion into the equipment of foreign bodies (i.e. tools, dust, fingers, etc) and moisture. This classification system utilizes the letters “IP” (“Ingress Protection”) followed by two or three digits. (A third digit is sometimes used. An “x” is used for one of the digits if there is only one class of protection; i.e. IPX4 which addresses moisture resistance only.)
Degrees of Protection Against Solid Objects - First Digit
The first digit of the IP code indicates the degree that persons are protected against contact with moving parts (other than smooth rotating shafts, etc.) and the degree that equipment is protected against solid foreign bodies intruding into an enclosure.
Degrees of Protection Against Moisture - Second Digit
The second digit indicates the degree of protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against the harmful entry of various forms of moisture (e.g. dripping, spraying, submersion, etc.)
Optional IP Code Symbols
The chart illustrates the use of special symbols in the IP classification system. In the “1st digit” column, not the grid-like symbols net to numbers 5 and 6. In the “2nd digit” column numbers 3-8 are symbolized by teardrop shaped symbols, sometimes enclosed in a box or a triangle, sometimes unenclosed (#7-8). These symbols can be placed on equipment to illustrate the IP protection provided.
STANDARD VS. CERTIFICATION
ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004 defines a standard as a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.
Standards are generally designated by a few letters (prefix) and a number. The letters (e.g., ISO, EN, BS,) indicate the standards body which has approved them; the number identifies the specific standard.
“Harmonized European Standards” are the standards drafted by the European standards bodies (CEN/CENELEC), on a mandate from the European Commission, with reference to the European Directives of the “New Approach” kind. These directives define generic safety requirements to which some families of products, considered dangerous or associated to serious risks, must adhere. Products made in accordance with the harmonized standards benefit from an agreement of conformity to the essential requirements of the directives, provided that the reference of the harmonized standard has been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities and that the harmonized standard has been implemented at a national level.
The harmonized European standards are voluntary. However, producers who choose to use specifications other than the harmonized standards will be required to prove conformity of the product to the requirements of the directives in order to obtain the CE mark, which must be affixed to products defined by these directives.
Certification is a third-party attestation related to products, processes, systems, standards or persons.
It is distinct from the other systems of proof of conformity such as supplier declarations, laboratory test reports or inspection body reports. Certification is based on the results of tests, inspections and audits and gives confidence to the customer on account of the systematic intervention of a competent third body.
Certification is mandatory when and where it is required by law. For instance, the European Commission requires that the CE mark be obtained for defined products which are particularly dangerous or associated to serious risks, as specified by the “New Approach” Directives. For these products, the CE mark is necessary to allow them to circulate freely in the European Market
Product certification attests that a product complies with the safety, fitness for use and/or interchangeability characteristics defined in standard(s), and in specification(s) supplementary to standards, where they are requested by the market.
When not required by law, that is when conformity to standards is a producer's choice, certification is voluntary. In these cases, certification of conformity to a given standard may be an internal product requirement for a company, or it can be a strategic competitive factor since it represents a quality symbol to consumers. Unlike a CE mark, IP certification is not required by law. It is up to the suppliers' discretion to invest in independent 3rd party testing and certification. Customers who place value on objective testing of the device they are purchasing can ask their supplier for the official certificate.
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