Understanding IP Ratings and Choosing the Right Waterproof LED Strip
LED strips have become a popular lighting solution for both residential and commercial settings due to their energy efficiency, versatility, and ease of installation. However, not all LED strips are created equal, especially when it comes to their ability to withstand exposure to water and moisture. This is where IP ratings come into play.
What is an IP rating?
- IP stands for Ingress Protection, and an IP rating is a standard measure used to indicate the level of protection provided by an electrical enclosure against foreign objects (such as dust) and water. The rating consists of two digits, with the first indicating the degree of protection against solid objects, and the second indicating the degree of protection against water.
When do we need waterproof LED strips?
- Waterproof LED strips are needed in situations where the strips will be exposed to water or moisture, such as in outdoor lighting applications or in areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
How many different waterproof grades of LED strip lights?
- There are several different waterproof grades of LED strip lights, each indicated by a different IP rating
3.1 IP20 – none waterproof
3.2 IP52 – silicone coating
3.3 IP65 – silicone tube
3.4 IP65H – heat shrink tube
3.5 IP67 – full silicone encased
3.6 IP67 – nano coating
3.7 IP68 – full PU encased
Here is an Excel table with the information about the different waterproof grades and LED strip structures:
|Waterproof Grade||LED Strip Structure||Waterproof Process||Application||Color Shift||Brightness Loss||Dimensional Changes|
|IP20||Non-waterproof||N/A||Indoor use||Yes||~10%||No changes|
|IP52||Silicone coating||Silicone layer||Dry or wet areas||Yes||~5%||Width unchanged, height increased by 1.5-2mm|
|IP65||Silicone tube||Silicone sleeve or extrusion||Wet areas||No||~5%||Width and height increased by about 2mm|
|IP65H||Heat shrink tube||Heat shrink tube||Wet areas||No||~4%||Width and height almost unchanged|
|IP67||Full silicone encased||Hollow silicone tube + filled with silicon or silicone integration extrusion||Outdoor use||Yes||~15%||Width and height increased by about 2mm|
|IP67||Nano coating||Nano-coating spray||Outdoor use||No||~2%||No changes|
|IP68||Full PU encased||Full clear PU glue encased||Outdoor and underwater use||Yes||~15%||Width and height increased by about 2mm|
Confusion Between IP52 and IP65
- There is often confusion between IP52 and IP65 ratings, as both provide protection against water. However, IP52 is only protected against dripping water, while IP65 is protected against low-pressure water jets.
The common material to make waterproof LED strips
The common materials used to make waterproof LED strips are silicone coating, silicone tube, heat shrink tube, full silicone encasement, nano coating, and clear PU glue encasement.
There are several common materials used to make waterproof LED strips, including:
Silicon: Silicon is a popular material for waterproof LED strips due to its high resistance to water and other liquids. It is flexible and can easily conform to various shapes and sizes, making it ideal for use in a wide range of applications.
PVC: PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) is another popular material used for waterproof LED strips. It is also flexible and easy to shape, making it ideal for use in curved or uneven surfaces. PVC is also resistant to water and other liquids, making it a popular choice for outdoor use.
Polyurethane: Polyurethane is a synthetic polymer that is commonly used as a coating material for waterproof LED strips. It provides excellent water resistance, as well as good abrasion resistance and flexibility.
Epoxy: Epoxy is a popular material used to encapsulate LED strips for waterproofing. It is a two-part system that is mixed together and then applied to the LED strip. Once cured, epoxy provides excellent water resistance and durability.
TPU: TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is a flexible and durable material commonly used for waterproofing LED strips. It provides excellent resistance to water and other liquids, as well as good resistance to abrasion and wear.
|Material||Cost||Temperature Resistance||Heat Conductivity||Yellowing||Toxicity||Light Transmission Rate|
|PVC||Low to moderate||Moderate||Moderate||High||Potentially toxic||Low to moderate|
|Epoxy||Moderate to high||Moderate to high||High||Low||Potentially toxic||Low to moderate|
|TPU||Moderate||High||Low||Low to moderate||Non-toxic||High|
What is silicone-integrated extrusion?
Silicone-integrated extrusion is a manufacturing process used to create fully waterproof LED strips. The process involves integrating the silicone casing directly onto the LED strip during the manufacturing process, resulting in a seamless and fully waterproof product.
Advantages of silicone integrated extrusion
There are several advantages to using silicone integrated extrusion for waterproof LED strips, including:
Silicone integrated extrusion allows for the production of products with an infinite length, which is particularly useful in industries that require long, continuous runs of products such as tubing or gaskets.
Due to the high degree of automation and precision of the silicone extrusion process, it can produce products at a high rate of speed, increasing overall productivity and reducing production costs.
Better waterproof performance
Silicone is naturally water-resistant, and the silicone integrated extrusion process can create products with a high degree of waterproof performance. This is especially important in applications where products are exposed to moisture or other liquids.
Process of silicone integrated extrusion
The process of silicone integrated extrusion with an LED strip involves the following steps:
Step 1 Material preparation: Prepare the silicone material by mixing it with any required additives and pigments. Cut the LED strip to the desired length.
Step 2 Extruder setup: Feed the prepared silicone material into the extruder machine. The extruder is equipped with a hopper to hold the material and a screw to feed it into the extrusion chamber.
Step 3 Heating and melting: The silicone material is heated and melted inside the extrusion chamber by the screw’s friction and heat. The heat softens the silicone and makes it more fluid, allowing it to flow around the LED strip.
Step 4 LED strip insertion: Insert the LED strip into the extrusion die, ensuring that it is positioned correctly within the silicone material.
Step 5 Extrusion die: The extrusion die shapes the silicone material around the LED strip into the desired cross-sectional shape. The die is typically made of steel and has a cavity that the silicone flows through. The shape of the die determines the shape of the extruded product.
Step 6 Cooling and curing: After leaving the extrusion die, the silicone material is cooled and cured to solidify the shape. This is typically done using a water bath or air cooling system. Curing may also involve additional heat treatment or exposure to UV light, depending on the type of silicone used.
Step 7 Cutting and finishing: Once the silicone material has fully cured, it is cut to the desired length and inspected for quality. Finishing processes may also be applied, such as surface treatment or printing.
Step 8 LED testing: The LED strip is tested to ensure that it is functioning correctly.
Step 9 Packaging and storage: The final step is to package the finished product and store it in a suitable environment until it is ready for use.
Tips for using waterproof LED strip lights
When using waterproof LED strip lights, it is important to follow these tips:
9.1 Cutting and joining LED strip with connector – always use a sharp pair of scissors or a cutting tool designed for LED strips to avoid damaging the strip. When joining strips, use a connector designed for waterproof strips to ensure a secure and waterproof connection.
9.2 Soldering and sealing waterproof LED strips – when soldering, be sure to use a soldering iron with a temperature-controlled tip to avoid overheating the strip. After soldering, seal the connection with heat shrink tubing or a waterproof sealant.
9.3 Installing waterproof LED strips – always ensure the surface where the strip will be installed is clean and dry before applying the strip. Use mounting clips or adhesive tape designed for waterproof strips to ensure a secure installation.
In conclusion, understanding IP ratings and choosing the right waterproof LED strip is crucial for ensuring the safety and longevity of your lighting solution. By following the tips outlined above and choosing a high-quality, waterproof LED strip with the appropriate IP rating, you can enjoy the benefits