Although rugged devices are often priced a little higher than consumer devices, rugged devices have been gaining popularity over their reliability and durability as had been explored here. Such an increase in popularity often attracts an increase in production which also increases the chances of producing defective rugged devices. IP67 and IP68 are primarily ratings that have emerged to help us estimate the ruggedness of rugged devices.
The terms IP67, IP68 (and at times IPX7) have been gaining popularity lately as measures for electronic device ruggedness. Because the terms are still fairly new to the market, not many people seem to comprehend the essence of these ratings. Perhaps you too could be wondering like: What do these terms stand for even? Could it be something utilitarian or just a “sale-quick” marketing phrase? How can the so-called “IP-Rating” become relevant when purchasing a rugged device? And, how can the IP ratings guide me to choose the best-rugged device for my job?
Well, in this edition, we dug deep into the “IP rating” property to help you settle a few worries about the IP ratings. We also showcase the relevance of IP ratings when making decisions to buy new rugged devices. Having cleared that, let us begin our edition with the obvious question…
Mmmh… So, what is an “IP Rating”, and how is it important?
International Protection Rating (also known as Ingression Protection) Rating (IP) is a term that was coined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as a standard for classifying the measure of protection given to electrical enclosures against the intrusion of solid objects, dust, water and accidental contacts. The IP standards were defined under the 60529 IEC standards that were amended in 2013 and 2015 as a way to classify and grade designs by manufacturers when producing durable devices aimed at durability. It equips consumers with more accurate information on electronics than the normal marketing terms.
IP ratings consist of two digits (characteristic numerals). The first digit takes a number between zero and six depending on the rating tested. These first digits denote the degree of enclosure of an electronic or an electrical device against access to risky parts, e.g., an enclosure of live conductors or dangerous moving parts. These digits can be evaluated as shown in table 1 below:
Table 1: Image courtesy of DSM & T
The second digit on the rating takes values that range between 0 and 8. These second values denote the degree of protection given to electrical and electronic devices against harmful ingression of water. They are graded as shown in table 2 below. These values give a reliable measure that can help one to cut through the marketing phrases like “waterproof” to ascertain the actual, tested durability of a device.
Table 2: Image courtesy of DSM & T
IP67 vs. IP68 vs. IPX7
Drawing from the already highlighted tabled measures, it is notable that both IP67 and IP68 rated devices are resistant to dust. Then again, they differ in their resistance to water. IP67 rated devices can sustain immersion in water to a depth not exceeding 1 meter over a period of half an hour. On the other hand, IP68 rated devices can sustain immersion in water to a depth exceeding 1meter and less than 30 meters over a duration of half an hour. This is the main difference between IP67 and IP68 rated rugged gadgets. IPX7 gadgets, on the other hand, are gadgets whose resistance to water has been tested to be similar to those of IP67, but whose resistance to dust has not been ascertained. This can be summarized in the table below:
|IP67 vs. IP68 vs. IPX7|
|Dust||– Protected against dust (dust-tight)||– Protected against dust (dust-tight)||– Dust Protection is undetermined|
|Water submersion||– Can remain submerged to a depth of 1M for 30 minutes||– Can remain submerged to a depth of 1.5M for 30 minutes||– Can remain submerged to a depth of 1M for 30 minutes|
Water-resistant ≠ Waterproof: Being “water-resistant” (as used in the IP grading) does not equal “waterproof” as used by sales and marketers. With the IP grade rating, you can estimate the tolerance of your rugged device’s casing towards accidents that might occur in real-world environments. Also, since the devices are not waterproof, the rating also warns one against exposing the IP rated devices to extreme conditions that might result in their malfunctioning.
The water used for testing is clean and distilled water. The water used for laboratory testing of devices with IP ratings is clean distilled water with no impurities. This means the ratings could vary if devices that are tested on normal working environments with different types of liquids.
How is knowing IP rating relevant when buying a rugged device?
The knowledge of IP ratings for rugged devices could help you to:
- Estimate the ruggedness of a device’s casing. I.e., the IP grading attempts to quantify the limits that a device can attain when treated under extreme conditions. This makes the grading to be reliable and honest than a pure rating based on sales-driven descriptions.
- Estimate the appropriate budget for a rugged device. In that, knowing that a device has been certified to be durable and tolerant to accidents could also influence your willingness to spend when buying a gadget. It will guide you to acquire devices that will be worth their cost. That is, cheaper if they are not very durable and a little costly if they are extremely rugged.
How do I determine the best IP grade for my rugged device?
Determining the appropriate IP grade for your rugged device would depend entirely on your preferences. These preferences do differ from one person to another depending mainly on one’s career and estimated buying budget, or both. To help you make that decision, it could be important if you asked yourself the following three main questions:
- How often will I use the rugged device? This question seeks to determine the frequency of one’s access to the rugged device. If one uses the rugged device often, it could mean that any hindrance to the device could directly affect one’s operations. As such, it could be important to consider buying IP68 as opposed to IP67.
- What is the nature of my working environment? Here one might opt to consider a few factors like the availability of moisture, water or dust in one’s operating space. In case one operates in areas like dusty roads or carpentry workshops with dust, it could be okay to go for IP67 and IP68. But it will be inappropriate to buy IPX7 as its measure of sustaining dust is undetermined.
- How much am I willing to spend?The cost is crucial when buying electrical and electronic devices. Thus, after one determines the appropriate ruggedness specifications for his/her preferred device, it could also be very important to ascertain one’s ability to buy the device.
By balancing the three specifications, one can purchase an affordable and rugged device that conforms to the IP standards.
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