Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a trend in pin and sleeve regarding the IP69k designation. Is it just marketing material or should you really consider the rating to be valuable? Should you be willing to pay more? We’ll explore all this and more in today’s post.
Quick Summary of IP Ratings
Before we dive right into IP69k, we need to set a foundation for what IP ratings are and why they matter. IP stands for Ingress Protection and provides a way to measure an enclosure’s resistance to water and foreign matter. It was created as a part of IEC 60529 – Degree of Protection Provided by Enclosures. In the electrical industry, it’s critical to have well-defined standards beyond just “waterproof” as critical systems depend on electrical enclosures keeping their integrity.
An IP Rating will have at least two numbers; the first number is for solids and the second number is for liquids. Here’s what they mean from our friends at www.dsmt.com:
Nothing to it, right?
Wait, Where’s the 9 and What Is IP69k?
As you can see, on most standard charts the highest level of water rating is an 8. So, clearly, we are dealing with heavy-duty industrial products meant for extremely harsh environments. The designation can be achieved by passing the following test:
Products rated to IP69K must be able to withstand high-pressure and steam cleaning.
The test specifies a spray nozzle that is fed with 80 °C water at 80–100 bar (~1160-1450) and a flow rate of 14–16 L/min.The nozzle is held 10–15 cm from the tested device at angles of 0°, 30°, 60° and 90° for 30 seconds each.
The test device sits on a turntable that rotates once every 12 seconds.
You can see that the key difference here is the water pressure, not just the presence of water. We’ll get to why this matters in a bit.
When Does It Really Matter?
The IP69K rating is typically for applications where high pressure and high-temperature washdown is used to sanitize equipment. Sanitize is the key word here.
The IP69K test was initially developed for road vehicles, especially those that need regular intensive cleaning. However, in recent years it has been widely adopted in the Food & Beverage industries as a test of products to withstand heavy washdown.
To summarize, you need IP69k if you are working in an extremely harsh manufacturing/production environment where water, chemicals, and dust (or similar solid particles) are not just present but overwhelming.
Who Touts IP69K Ratings in Pin and Sleeve?
Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve read our Definitive Guide for Pin and Sleeve Devices. While reading, you’d have noticed that some manufacturers tout an IP69k rating while others don’t. Here’s a list of North American companies that can claim to have IP69k:
- Cooper-Arrow Hart
- Cooper- Crouse Hinds
Arrow Hart did a nice video on the test itself a few years ago and is worth watching here.
Are you Going to Pay More for IP69k?
Maybe. This is quite interesting. To begin with, buying Pin and Sleeve is never a cheap purchase. However, we’ve found that generally, IP69k does not necessarily mean you’ll pay more than a standard Pin and Sleeve.For example, take Hubbell. Their standard plug is IP69k. There’s no premium offering or chance to “upgrade” to that IP level. So, while you may pay an arm and a leg for Hubbell, the IP69k rating is part of the product you’d already be buying. However, it does generally hold that pricing will differ between IP Ratings. It makes complete sense that you wouldn’t pay the same for an IP65 plug vs. an IP69k plug.
Great! Now, you should have a very basic understanding of IP Ratings, what IP69k means, why and when it matters, and how it relates to Pin and Sleeve wiring devices. What did we miss? Leave us a comment below and thanks for reading!