A Brief Explanation of IP Rating: It's All in the Digits
IP rating - What does it mean?
Quite often you will see on the product packaging that it's moisture proof, waterproof, dust or water resistant. But you really shouldn't believe everything you read in this case, unless there is an IP rating given for the product. Let's see what the IP rating actually means?
Product marketers try to sell their products, and they are well aware that people today pay more attention to details when they are buying a new gadget. What the buyer actually needs to know is whether the smart phone he or she wants to buy is protected from raindrops or what will happen if he drops it into water suddenly?
One of the things especially important lately is the level of protection against solids and liquids. Fortunately, there is a uniform rating scale and the devices are actually tested against solid materials and liquids in controlled environment. So if your device has an IP67 rating, it actually means something.
Now let's see, what does it actually mean?
IP rating - What does it mean?
IP or Ingress Protection indicates the level of protection of your device from solids and liquids. It usually comes in the following format: IPX where X is a digit that represents the level of protection against solid objects, while Y is a digit showing us the level of protection against liquids. In both cases the higher the digit, the better the protection is.
The IP rating is not something the manufacturer can just put on the package to sell the device. A product can have this rating only after precise testing.
And now, let's see, what does the IPX ratings system mean, and what can the digits tell us about the level of protection?
First digit - Protection from dust and solid objects
There are seven levels of protection against solid objects. It goes from 0 to 6, and generally all electronic devices that come in a case or enclosure are already protected up to level 4, so we won't even discuss this.
- 0: Products with this level of protection are not protected at all.
- 1: Objects bigger than 5 cm won't do any harm to your device
- 2: Products at this level are protected from objects larger than 1.25 cm
- 3: Products at this level are protected from objects larger than 2.5 mm
- 4: Products at this level are protected from any object larger than 1 mm.
- 5: Products at this level are dust resistant. This means there are chances for some dust to get in, but it won't damage the device.
- 6: Products at this level are completely dust-tight.
Second digit - Protection from liquids
Protection against liquids comes in 10 different levels from 0 to 9. Let's check each level..
- 0: Products with this level of protection are not protected from liquids.
- 1: If water drips on the product vertically it will be safe.
- 2: If water drips on the product at less than a 15° angle, then it's protected..
- 3: This level of protection will save your device from water dripping on the device at 60°.
- 4: At this level your device is protected from water splashes coming from any direction.
- 5: Products with this level of protection can handle a low water spray from any direction.
- 6: Products with this level of protection can handle high-pressure, powerful water sprays from any direction.
- 7: Products with this level of protection can be under water for half an hour at 1 meter of depth.
- 8: Products with this level of protection can be under 1 meter of water but the manufacturer has to specify the precise depth.
There are also 6x and 9x levels, but they are rarely used so we won't discuss them here.
My product doesn't have an IP rating? What now?
In case there is no IP rating, it doesn't automatically mean that the company is trying to make you buy a bad product, not to say junk. It generally means that the product didn't go through this testing for some reason. For example, in some cases you will see products rated as IPX7 and IPX8. This doesn't indicate low rating, but tells us that the product hasn't been tested against solid materials.
However, if they tell you that the product is 100 percent waterproof and there is no certificate to prove that, then you better avoid buying that product.