If you are shopping for rugged or high-end devices, you might come across the term “waterproof” or “IP69 waterproof”. Occasionally, the marketers prefer to caption it as “IP69” or “IP68” rating instead. In essence, “waterproof” should imply resistance to water. But the degree of waterproof (in electronics) is often undefined. It means, therefore, “waterproof” may not even be waterproof at all.
How then does one gadget’s “waterproof” capability measure from another? To understand this concept, we use the IP rankings.
The IP (Ingression Protection) ratings are assigned codes on electronic devices that mark the measure of protection a manufacturer guarantees an electronic product against intrusion by solid or liquid components like water and dust.
IP68, IP69, and IP69K are, therefore, codes that denote the ability of a device to withstand water or dust intrusion. These standards are defined by The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard 60529. These standards are equivalent to the EU 60529 and fall in the same class as ISO 20653.
The digits after “IP” denotes a manufacturer’s conformity to IEC 60529 standards. The first digit marks protection against solid particles, like dust, as the second digit shows the degree of protection against liquid ingression.
In older IP rate coding, the rating could possess a third additional letter (like “A”) to specify protection against personnel or hazardous equipment.
The tables below show a summary of the IP ratings.
|X .e.g. IPX0||Insufficient data to enable the IP rating specification on solid particles.|
|0 .e.g. IP0X||The maker offers no protection against contact or penetration of physical objects|
|1 .e.g. IP1X||It assures protection against large surfaces. .i.e. surfaces greater than 50mm (2.0 in). It can protect the palm of a hand, but not the fingers.|
|2 .e.g. IP2X||It indicates protection against surfaces greater than 12.5mm (0.49 in). It can protect objects the size of fingers but not the ordinary wiring cables.|
|3 .e.g. IP3X||It shows protection for surfaces greater than 2.5mm (0.098 in). It can prevent thick wires and most electrical tools.|
|4 .e.g. IP4X||It assures protection against the intrusion of particles greater than 1mm (0.039 in). Such particles include ordinary cables and insects.|
|5 .e.g. IP5X||It protects against dust particles. Then again, this protection is partial to the extent that should the dust particles enter the device they should not destroy it.|
|6 .e.g. IP6X||Electrical equipment with this code is considered “dustproof.” The test employs a continuous airflow for over eight hours on an electronic product. A successful gadget to maintains an internal vacuum without allowing dust penetration.|
|X .e.g. IP0X||Insufficient data to enable the IP rating specification on liquid particles.|
|0 .e.g. IPX0||The producer offers no protection against ingress of water|
|1 .e.g. IPX1||It assures protection against dripping water, .i.e. light rain. When testing under this class, dripping water equivalent of 1mm (0.039) is left to flow over the electronic appliance for 10 minutes without damaging it.|
|2 .e.g. IPX2||It offers protection against dripping water when tilted at an angle of 15 degrees. Tests under this class assume that an electric appliance can withstand vertical ingression. Here, vertical water dripping equivalent of 3mm (0.12 in) hits the product on a test while twisted at an angle of 15 degrees for 10 minutes in two different planes.|
|3 .e.g. IPX3||Guarantees protection against sprayed water with a pressure of up to 21.8 psi for a minimum of ten minutes.|
|4 .e.g. IPX4||It indicates protection against splashed water from all directions. An IPX3 spray gets directed on the test subject for a minimum of ten minutes in an oscillating tube (During testing). The product on the test withstands water entry from all directions.|
|5 .e.g. IPX5||Assures protection against water jet from a nozzle of 6.3mm and pressure of 4.4 psi from a distance of 3 meters.|
|6 .e.g. IPX6||Electronics with this code withstand water ingression from powerful water jets. Devices are exposed to jets with a nozzle of 12.5mm and pressure of 15 psi from a distance of 3 meters for three minutes without being affected.|
|7 .e.g. IPX7||A gadget under this class endures water penetration by immersion in water to a depth of less than 1 meter for 30 minutes.|
|8 .e.g. IPX8||A product under this class should prevent or endure water ingression for a depth exceeding 1meter (specified by the creator) for a period exceeding 30 minutes. Sometimes the code may also mean that water can penetrate to a circuit but will not harm it.|
|9 .e.g. IPX9 / IPX9K||It is currently the highest IP rating. A gadget under this class should withstand immersion, high-pressure jet sprays on rotation. The device should also remain stable under high water temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius.|
Both IP68 and IP69 devices can claim to be waterproof. But drawing from the illustration tables above, you will notice that IP69 is a level higher than IP68. What creates that disparity?
Ordinarily, electronics that fall in these two ratings are dustproof and rugged. However, they may differ when considering the following aspects:
IP68 standard does not enforce temperature limits when testing the liquid particles ingression. On the flip side, the IP69 rating examines gadgets with heated water to a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius. We can assume that IP69 rated electronics are durable in environments that involve higher temperatures than IP68 rated ones.
IP68 rating test establishes the limit of testing by immersion to range between 1 and 3 meters. In comparison, IP69 ratings set a lower limit of 2 meters without having a defined upper limit. This leniency on the upper limit of IP69 depth can allow manufacturers to create devices that tolerate ingression beyond 3 meters.
As you might have noted, “water resistance” is relative to the IP codes. In this case, an IP69 coded electrical appliance should be higher than an IP68 appliance of similar utility in the aspect of water resistance.
Let’s assume that we have two machines with similar features. An IP69 rated device should have more usage capability than an IP68 rated one due to its tolerance to extreme environmental changes.
The general cost of manufacturing rugged devices that withstand dust, water, and temperature is high. In addition, the added cost of testing and standardization drives the overall cost of manufacturing higher. Consequently, the cost of producing and testing an IP69 rated product could be arguably high compared to the cost of producing an IP68 rated electronic with similar features.
IP68 is currently the most popular standard among manufacturers. And there are varied reasons that might push consumers to opt for IP68 rated gadgets. Cost often tops that list.
As observed, IP68 ranked devices are often cheaper than their IP69/IP69K ranked counterparts. As a result, you might choose to use an IP68 rated option if you are running on a tight budget.
IP68 also assures the durability of a device. It ranks second on Ingression Protection against solid or liquid particles. As a result, you could expect IP68 coded appliances to tolerate environmental conditions better than IP67 or lower.
On the downside, extreme temperatures examination testing is optional during IP68 gadget examination. As a result, such a device may become less tolerant than an IP69 coded device on environmental conditions where temperature varies.
If you are seeking the ultimate durability of your device, then an IP69 ranked device should help. It is currently the highest IP rank.
It is the rank that indicates the apex of testable device durability. It can withstand maximum limits of solid and liquid ingression specified by IEC. Unlike ordinary electronics, IP69-rated gadgets are great for home, office, and outdoor usage.
They are also tolerant to variations of environmental changes like humidity, air pressure, and temperature.
Perhaps the only shortcoming you are likely to encounter from the purchase or use of IP69 devices is their expensive cost. Because few manufacturers have merited this rank, their pricing is comparatively higher than the ordinary. Even so, when you consider their advantages, the added cost is a small price to pay.
Yes …and no. It will depend on your objectives while asking this question. However, there are a few general considerations you will need to deduct from this article.
For instance, if you intend to use your gadget in an unpredictable environment, you could opt to have IP69 over IP68 rated appliance. The main reason is that IP69 equipment has proven durability and tolerance over IP68. On the other hand, if you are working on a fixed budget, an IP68 rate is sufficient.
It then boils down to the use of the device and the budget you estimate to spend.
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