IP Ratings & Zones Explained

22 June 2023

Bathroom Lighting Buyers Guide: IP Ratings & Zones


At first, IP ratings and bathroom zones can sound complicated but honestly, they’re easy to understand – once you know!
This guide offers advice for both consumers looking to buy bathroom lighting and for lighting retailers selling to the public.

What Are IP Ratings?

IP Rating means Ingress Protection Rating – a well-recognised code and system for understanding the resistance of an electrical enclosure to water, and solid debris, such as dust or other foreign bodies. An IP rating isn’t only applied to lights, it covers any electricals that are likely to come in contact with water, but when you’re shopping for bathroom lighting, it’s definitely something you should look out for. IP ratings also apply to outdoor lighting.

IP ratings in the UK are defined in BS EN 60529:1992+A2:2013 and the ratings are fairly easy to understand:

An IP code has two numbers, for example, ‘IP65’. The first digit indicates the level of protection the electrical enclosure offers from solids entering. 0 would mean no protection, whilst 6 would indicate the enclosure is resistant to even dust particles entering.

The second digit of an IP rating indicates the level of protection the electrical housing has against water ingress. Again, 0 is no protection and the highest number, 9 indicates that the housing is protected against even strong jets of water. 8 means the enclosure is protected even when submerged in water.

It is important to take note of the IP rating of a bathroom light before you buy it, to make sure it is suitable for the location you wish to install the light. Different IP ratings indicate which area of your bathroom a light is safe in.
This brings us to the second thing you need to understand when buying bathroom lights…

What Are Bathroom Zones

Bathrooms are divided into different zones to demonstrate where electrical equipment, including lights, must be protected against water.

The lower the number of the bathroom zone, the higher the IP number needs to be on your chosen light fixture.

Bathroom zones are:

Zone 0 – zone 0 is inside the bath or shower so any lighting in this area would need to be at least IP67 which is suitable for complete immersion in water.

Zone 1 - zone 1 is the area above the bath or shower up to a height of 2.25m from the floor. An IP rating of at least IP65 is recommended.

Zone 2 – zone 2 covers an area 0.6m wide immediately next to and all-around zone 1. The 60cm zone all around the sink should be treated as zone 2. It is recommended a rating of IP44, at least, be used in these areas.

Zone 3 – zone 3 or sometimes called the outside zone, covers any areas outside zones 0,1, and 2. There is no IP rating recommended here for bathroom lighting unless it is thought jets of water may be able to reach this zone.

Using one of our bathroom lights as an example…
The Belle Led Bathroom Chandelier - Chrome & Crystal has an IP rating of IP44, making it suitable to use in zone 3, and in some cases zone 2, so long as there are no water jets used inside the area.

Advice For Lighting Retailers

For lighting retailers, understanding IP ratings and bathroom zones is good practice so that you can better advise customers.

When selecting lighting for a bathroom, customers may be unaware of IP ratings or misunderstand where certain lights can or can’t be used.

To make the decision for customers easier, it’s a good idea to list bathroom lighting separately on a website, and clearly display the IP rating. You could also add which bathroom zone the light is suitable for.

View Our Wholesale Lighting Products

Located in Manchester, UK, is one of two of Searchlight Electric Limited’s purpose-built HQ. It is a state-of-the-art facility, working as both a distribution centre and a showroom for our products. Why don’t you come and visit the showroom for yourself where you can see our wide range of bathroom lighting.

Searchlight is, uniquely, in quite a diverse position for both global trading partners and the global markets. With our Manchester HQ, another Europe distribution centre, and a growing presence in East Asia due to joint manufacturing operations in China, our expertise is on everyone’s doorstep.

And that’s expertise, advice, knowledge, and resources we’ve developed over more than 75 years as established wholesale lighting suppliers.

Contact Searchlight Electric Limited

Searchlight is always determined, always committed to delivering high-quality decorative lighting products that are technologically advanced.

Catalogues are available on our site, including our 2022-23 international catalogue.

Want to get in touch with Searchlight Electric? Just telephone us: 0161 203 3300!
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