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How to Use Ingress Protection Rating in LED Headlights

By Gianna Annunzio, Associate Editor | March 27, 2020
Closeup of a UTV headlight.

As makers of compact utility vehicles (UTV) update them for construction applications, many are converting halogen headlights to LED. Since LEDs have a higher lumens output/wattage, the light they emit is brighter than halogen bulbs. They also require less power from the UTV’s alternator, allowing users to power more attachments

“We have some customers in Colorado and Utah who run our utility vehicles underground in the mines,” says Justin VanderHeyden, John Deere’s product marketing manager for UTVs.  “They want a lot of bright lights on the vehicle, both forward and rear-facing. You can run a lot of LED light bars on the machine and the alternator can keep up with the demand of those lights.”

LEDs are also more durable, able to withstand rough terrain and environmental conditions more efficiently than halogen bulbs. VanderHeyden says Deere’s LED bulbs have an ingress protection rating (IP) of 67, meaning they can be fully submerged in water without shorting out. 

The ingress protection (IP) rating of a bulb or fitting determines the level of protection it has against dirt or water. The rating is made up of two digits between 0 and 6, the first telling users how protected the bulb is against the ingress of dirt or foreign objects. The second number (between 0 and 8) denotes its protection against water. The higher the number, the better the rating.

The Ingress Protection Rating Chart. Credit: Flexfire LED
The Ingress Protection Rating Chart. Credit: Flexfire LED

Any bulb that is to be used in a wet environment should have a high IP rating, whether it is used in mining, or an alternative application. 

How to use IP ratings in headlights

  • Unsealed outdoor locations
  • Places that have a lot of debris
  • Areas with heavy foot traffic
  • High splash areas
  • High contact areas
  • Wet locations

The highest IP rating a bulb could have is IP68. This would mean it is completely waterproof, and protected from the ingress of dirt. An IP11 rating means a bulb is barely protected at all, and would not be suitable for UTV applications.

In certain cases, you may see an IP rating given as “IPX3,” “or IP6X.”Ratings that feature an “X” denote that a numerical rating has only been provided for one of the two main ingress types--a forigen body, or moisture--but not the other. 

The ratings most widely accepted as “waterproof” are IP65, IP66, and IP67. The difference between the two is in the degree of liquid ingress protection they offer. An IP65-rating, for example, gives protection against low pressure water from any direction, as well as condensation. An IP67-rated rating offers more substantial protection against liquid ingress. An enclosure with this rating will even protect against temporary submersion. An IP68 is hermetically sealed and suitable for continuous immersion in water. 

“There are a lot of acidic-type liquids coming off the walls within mines,” he says. “These lights are fully sealed, and able to withstand those environments underground.

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