Understanding IP Ratings
As consumer habits shift more and more to shopping online, terms such as "waterproof," "weather-resistant," "water-resistant," "dustproof," and many more have similarly increased. Unfortunately, the overuse of these terms can cause significant confusion for the average user; questions such as "can I bring my waterproof speaker to the beach?" and "Will my water-resistant phone survive heavy rainfall?"
Luckily, the International Electrotechnical Commission's got you covered with their "IEC Standard 60529" or, as it's more frequently known, "IP rating" or "IP code."
What is an IP rating?
IP stands for "Ingress Protection" and provides a standardized measurement for how well a device is protected from solid objects/particles and liquids. Unlike generalized marketing terms such as "water-resistant," an IP rating cannot simply be slapped onto a product willy-nilly. For a product to get an official rating, it must undergo stringent testing by a certified, independent lab.
Below is a typical example of an IP rating.
As you can see, each rating starts with IP, followed by two characters. The first character indicates the level of protection from solid particles such as sand and dust. The latter refers to the item's water resistance. The higher the number is, the greater amount of protection it provides. Or, in the case where an X is present such as IP6X or IPX7, it indicates simply that the manufacturer didn't specifically test for that level of protection.
With that in mind, let's explain each number's meaning.
First Digit – Protection from Solid Particles & Dust*
The first digit ranges from 0 (no protection) – 6 (no entry) and reflects protection from solid particles and dust.
- IP0X: NO protection against any physical contact or objects.
- IP1X: Protected against solid foreign objects 50mm (1.97 in.) or larger. (Ex. any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part*)
- IP2X: Protected against solid foreign objects of 12.5 mm (0.49 in.) or larger. (ex. Fingers or similarly sized objects*)
- IP3X: Protected against solid foreign objects of 5 mm (0.49 in.) or larger (ex. Tools, thick wires, etc.*)
- IP4X: Protected against solid foreign objects of 2.5 mm (0.10 in.) or larger (ex. Most wires, slender screws, large ants, etc.*)
- IP5X: Dust-Protected. The entrance of dust is not eliminated, but it won't let in enough to damage the product from functioning.*
- IP6X: Dust-Tight - No entrance of dust particles; complete protection against contact. A vacuum must be applied. Test duration of up to 8 hours based on airflow.*
Protection from Water
The second digit ranges from 0 (no special protection) – 9 (high-pressure hot water from different angles) and shows how well the product is protected from water.
- IPX0: The product offers no special protection from water.*
- IPX1: Protected against vertically falling water drops
- IPX2: Protected against vertically falling water drops when enclosure tilted up to 15°
- IPX3: Protected against spraying water at an angle of 60 on either side vertically*
- IPX4: Protected against splashing water in any direction.
- IPX5: Protected against water jet spray.
- IPX6: Protected against powerful water jets from any direction
- IPX6K: Protected against powerful water jets with increased pressure. (Rarely used)
- IPX7: Waterproof, can be submerged up to 1 meter in water for 30 minutes.
- IPX8: Can be submerged 1 meter and deeper. )The manufacturer specifies the exact depth.)
- IPX9K: Protected against close-range high pressure, high-temperature spray downs at close range. (Testing is dictated by a separate standard. Rarely used.)
Curiously, IPX7 and IPX8 do not "stack" with lower ratings. So, it is possible that an IPX8 rated can function underwater for a while but may still be damaged by a spray of water from the side. If a product can survive both scenarios, it gets a dual rating – e.g., IPX6/IPX8.
Products without IP Ratings**
While IP ratings ensure that the product
That means a product did not go through this specific IP test. It's not unusual for a product to get tested for water resistance but not dust resistance. It may have a rating like "IPX7" in this case. In this case, "X" is not the same as "0." It simply means the manufacturer didn't test the product for protection against dust and other solid particles.
In other cases, many audio and electronics companies make waterproof products without having them tested due to the costs associated with certification and testing. In many instances such as this, they will work perfectly fine. However, if they claim to be 100% waterproof and dustproof. In that case, you may want to check independent reviews and testing documentation. Or you could simply browse FUGOO's catalog of waterproof and weatherproof speakers, each of which has been tested to perform anywhere and in any weather.