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What is the IP Code? Are Terms Like Waterproof and Dust Resistant Just Marketing Buzzwords?

What is the IP Code?

Have you ever been purchasing an electronic and the salesperson refers to the product as “waterproof” or “dust resistant?” Then you wonder to yourself, do they test for that, or are they just trying to sell me? Terms like waterproof are certainly vague, and don’t really give much indication as to what this actually means. Buzzwords such as dust resistant and waterproof give off warning signs of being sold false promises. However, there is a standardized series of tests to inform consumers. These tests are known as the IP Code. According to Wikipedia, “The IP Code, or Ingress Protection Code is defined in IEC standard 60529 which classifies and rates the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures against intrusion, dust, accidental contact, and water.” 

Let’s Breakdown the IP Code

Whenever someone tells you something is “waterproof” or “dust resistant” just remember that these are measurable terms. As we just covered, the IP part of a code stands for Ingress Protection. The numbers that follow show the results of tests to determine solid particle protection and liquid ingress protection. For example, the typical minimum requirements for indoor electrical accessories is IP22 or IP2X. Regardless of which digit is being represented, a number “0” is used to define no protection, and “X” defines insufficient data has been gathered.

After the IP Code letters, the first digit represents the solid particle protection rating, and the second digit represents the liquid ingress protection. The first two digits are mandatory to be shown. There is a third digit that is no longer used in the IP Code that measured mechanical impact resistance. However, this does not mean that units are not tested for this, just that it is no longer used as part of the IP Code system. In addition to these digits, are additional and supplementary letters regarding other protections, but these are optional. The graphic below gives a breakdown of IP Codes for reference.

IP Codes Breakdown Example
By Mahesh Pathak – IPX Codes Explanation

First Digit: Solid Particle Protection

As stated previously, X means insufficient data, and 0 means no protection. This is true for both the first and second digit. With solid particle protection, all levels up to 6 are cumulative. This means that if an item is dust-tight, it is also capable of protecting against everything on the levels before it.

          Level – Effective against – Description

  • 1 – >2 inches – Protection against large surfaces of the body, but no protection against deliberate contact with body part
  • 2 – >.49 inches – Protection against fingers or similar objects
  • 3 – >.098 inches – Tools, thick wires or similar objects
  • 4 – >.039 inches – Most wires, slender screws, large ants or similar objects
  • 5 – Dust Protected – Ingress of dust not entirely prevented, but does not interfere with satisfactory operation
  • 6 – Dust-tight – No ingress of dust

Second Digit: Liquid Ingress Protection

Liquid ingress protection stops being cumulative at Level 6. Meaning if an item has protection on level 7, it is not necessarily compliant with a level 5 rating. Items that are resistant to both would be represented with a slash and have both codes listed.

          Level – Protection against – Effective against – Details

  • 1 – Dripping water – vertically falling drops have no harmful effect – Drops are equivalent to .039 inches of rain per minute
  • 2 – Dripping water tiled at 15 degrees – 10 minutes at every direction of tilt – Drops are equivalent to .12 inches of rain per minute.
  • 3 – Spraying water – Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60 degrees shall have no harmful effect – 10 Liters per minute for at least 5 minutes at 7.3 – 21.8 psi
  • 4 – Splashing of water – Water splashing against item from any direction shall have no harmful effect – 10 minutes at same rate above
  • 5 – Water jets – Water projected by a nozzle against item at any direction shall have no harmful effect – 12.5 liters per minute at 4.4 psi from 9.8 feet
  • 6 – Powerful water jets -Water projected in powerful jets against the item from any direction shall have no harmful effects – 100 liters per minute at 15 psi from 9.8 feet
  • 7 – Immersion up to 3 feet 3 inches – Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when enclosure is immersed – 30 minutes immersed at a maximum of 39 inches below surface.
  • 8 – Immersion at 3 feet 3 inches or more – Test depth and duration expected to be grater than previous level, along with effects such as temperature changes. – depth is generally up to 9.8 feet.
  • 9K – Powerful high-temperature water jets – Close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs. – 14-16 liters per minute, 1450 psi, from 3.9-5.9 inches at 176 degrees Fahrenheit

How to use this knowledge

Next time you are buying an electronic, specifically one that is going to potentially be exposed to a variety of weather conditions, remember your IP codes. Buying a TV for outdoor? You will want to ensure that the IP Code specifications will meet your needs. Do not just take the salespersons word on it, ask to see the IP code. If you see an IP rating of IP22, it is quite safe to say this is not an outdoor unit. You will want to find something with a higher IP rating.

Are you in any industry that utilizes barcode scanners, handheld terminals, or mobile printing solutions? Do you use these outdoors or in environmentally challenging elements? Contact Barcode Resourcing today and see how we can help!

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