IP and NEMA Enclosure Ratings Explained

By Brian Earl, Contributor

NEMA and IP ratings are important factors when selecting NEMA and IEC portable power devices and enclosures to meet your specific product application. Selecting the proper enclosure, or wiring device rating, is critical to the overall safety and protection of work environments.

First a couple of definitions to terms mentioned above –

NEMA – the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and IEC – the International Electrotechnical Commission rate various products, which corresponds with product specification and intended use.

Ratings –

  • NEMA Enclosure Ratings are based on “NEMA” types from ANSI/UL50 & UL508
  • Ingress Protection ratings (IP) have characteristics define by the IEC per Standard 60529

NEMA Enclosure Type Designations – 1, 2, 3, 3R, 3S, 4, 4X, 5, 6, 6P, 12, 12K, and 13 offer guidance on the Intended Use of a particular enclosure and wiring device. For example, NEMA 6P is defined as “Indoor or outdoor use primarily to provide a degree of protection again hose-directed water, and the entry of water during occasional temporary submersion at a limited depth and damage from external ice formation.

IP Rating System offers guidance in a two-digit format in similar fashion. This rating system is presented in a Grid with an X and Y axis with first and second digits. An example of a similar IP Rating – IP67 where the first digit (6) outlines “Protection against persons – touching and ingress of solid foreign objects” and the second digit (7) outlining “Protection against effects of immersion in water under defined conditions of pressure and time.” In some countries withing the confines of IP ratings, there is a third digit, for mechanical security, is added.

Example of truncated NEMA Environmental Rating Codes.

Comparison of “NEMA” Type and “IP” Code designations and Conversion of “NEMA” Type to “IP” Code designations*. (Please notice the above example of Nema 6P and IP67 and the chart below to compare and convert NEMA to IP Code designations.)

Example of truncated NEMA and IP Code Designations
*Note – These tables cannot be used to convert “IP Codes to “NEMA” Types.

IP69K – A recent edition to the IP Code – DIN 40050-9 extended the more recent IEC60529 rating with a IP69K designation for high-pressure, high-temperature washdown applications. This designation was originally developed for road vehicles that need regular intensive cleaning, such as concrete mixers and dump trucks. It has found application to other industries such as food processing, food processing equipment cleaning, and car wash systems.

Using both NEMA Environmental rating for Enclosures and IP Ratings as a guideline for the degree of environmental protection provided by electrical enclosures against corrosion, intrusion chemicals, dust, water, directed spray, and accidental contact are very useful resources to ensure your workspaces are safe and compliant.

Brian Earl is VP of Sales and Marketing at Ericson. He has an extensive background in developing and leading a variety of marketing, sales, and technical teams serving customers nationally and internationally. To learn more about Ericson’s extensive line of Watertight and Antimicrobial IP69K wiring devices go to www.ericson.com

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