IP Rating and How to Understand It?

Another way for the manufacturers to state that their products are waterproof, splash-proof or dust resistant is through the so-called IP rating. In the following paragraphs will try to make the IP rating more understandable.

waterproof photo
Photo by popofatticus

When we are looking at some products we may be confused by all the claims from the manufactures. Yes, they can state that their product is water-resistant, but is it really the truth? All these terms remain just plain words if the IP rating is not clearly pointed out.  When you understand the digits in the IP rating you will know whether your new device is protected from rain and whether you can take it to a pool party or at the beach without having to worry about whether it will survive that event?

Let’s take a look at the digits in the IP rating scale and what each of them means.

What does IP rating stand for?

The IP rating generally looks like this, for example, IP67. The two digits show at what level the device is protected from solid objects (the first digit) and liquids (the second digit). The protection is better if the digit is higher. The IP is basically an abbreviation for “ingress protection”.

The good thing about IP rating and why you should look for it on the package is that because the manufacturer can’t just write anything as he wants. The IP rating is given after a thorough testing by a certified company.

Here is a brief explanation of all the digits and their meaning.

What does the first digit mean?

This digit represents the protection from solid objects and ranges from 0 to 6.

  • 0 – Not protected.
  • 1 – Protected from objects > 50 mm.
  • 2 – Protected from objects > 12.5 mm. Your fingers are in this category.
  • 3 – Protected from objects > 2.5 mm such as wires and tools.
  • 4 – Protected from objects larger than 1 mm.
  • 5 – Dust resistant. This is the one we normally need to see. Although it is possible for some dust to get inside, it wouldn’t be enough to damage the product.
  • 6 – Completely dust-tight.

What does the second digit mean?

This digit represents the protection from liquids and ranges from 0 to 9.

  • 0 – Not protected
  • 1 – Protected from vertical dripping on the device.
  • 2 – Protected from liquids hitting the device at ≤15° angle.
  • 3 – Protected from water sprays up to 60°.
  • 4 – Protected from water splashes coming from various directions.
  • 5 – Protected from continuous low-pressure water spray.
  • 6 – Protected from high-pressure heavy water sprays.
  • 6K – Protected from high-pressure water jets. This one is not used quite often.
  • 7 – The device can handle being submerged for half an hour at a 1m depth of water.
  • 8 – The device can handle being submerged deeper than 1m of water. The manufacturer should specify the exact depth.
  • 9K – Protected from high-temperature, high-pressure spray at a small distance. It’s very rarely used.

It is good to know that if your device is at level 7 or 8, it doesn’t necessarily mean it provides protection of lower rating. Because of this, some products carry a dual rating. For example, IPX5/IPX7 waterproof rating which means they can resist low-pressure water sprays and be submerged at 1m.

My product doesn’t have an IP rating. What now?

Well, in case your product isn’t labeled with an appropriate IP rating it doesn’t mean you are buying a low-quality product. It simply means that the device hasn’t been tested based on this standard. It is also very common to test a product for just water resistance. In that case the protection from solid objects is marked with X.

On the other hand, maybe the company decided to test the product by a different rating standard. In that case you should look for some other labels and markings telling the device is water-resistant or dustproof.

And finally, avoid products that are labeled as completely waterproof but have no certification to prove it. There are great chances you will buy a faulty and low-quality product.

Guest post by Chris Howard


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