IP and NEMA Ratings for Digital Signage

Digital signage is a common sight around shopping malls and retail units, but these warm and dry indoor locations are not the only areas where digital signage displays are installed.

More and more digital signage displays are being utilised outdoors and in other hazardous locations, not just for advertising but also for information and communication. Of course, standard digital signage screens are unable to operate in the open air, as the weather would cause the screens to fail. The same is true of dusty locations, as dust is just as problematic as liquids if it penetrates a TV as it can lead to short circuiting, overheating and other problems.

Different types of locations require different levels of protection. While a distribution warehouse may only need to keep dust out of a display, a screen operating in a food production facility that is regularly washed-down will need to keep water out. While outdoor locations will need to keep both rainfall and other weather elements from the screen as well as any wind-blown dust or particles.

Fortunately, outdoor LCD enclosures used for protecting screens in outdoor and harsh locations, are manufactured to international guidelines, which indicate what type of environment the equipment can operate in.

IP rating

The European IP rating (ingress protection) is a numbered scale that describes protection from both liquids and solids. The first digit of the double-digit number denotes the effectiveness of the enclosure against solids. The higher the number, the more effective, and therefore, smaller the particles the enclosure prevents getting inside.

The second digit denotes its effectiveness against liquids. Again, the higher the number the more effective the enclosure is defending against liquids; with splashes on the lower end of the scale to full-scale power-washing defence on the higher end of the scale.


Commonly used in North America, the NEMA scale operates a little differently to the European rating. NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) operates a single digit number scale going from 1 through to 13, with each number offering a specific type of protection. For example, a NEMA 2 enclosure is suitable for indoor screens just requiring protection from dust, while a NEMA 4 enclosure is suitable or outdoor use to defend against rain.

For most outdoor digital signage systems the minimum ratings to look for are NEMA 3 (NEMA 4 is preferable) and IP 54 (IP 65 is more comprehensive).

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