In recent years, consumers have seen more information about IP ratings. Probably the most common example is with regard to cell phones. First came the IP67 rating, and then IP68. Cameras, particularly ones for outdoor use, also have an IP Rating. IP Rating standards are controlled by the IEC.
The IEC is the International Electrotechnical Commission. They are the official body that defines the IP Code. The code is defined in IEC standard 60529. In europe, it is EN 60529. The purpose for the code is to provide specific information about ingress protection, as opposed to the use of terms like waterproof, or water resistant. One company's water resistant, may be another company's waterproof. The IP Code is intended to take the leeway out of these descriptions.
The digits in an IP rating indicate conformity to protection under certain conditions. When you see a 0 in an IP rating it means that no protection is provided for that particular portion of the code. An X means that there is not enough data to determine the amount of protection. IP ratings will never have a - in them, so a product claiming to have a rating of IPX-8 is providing invalid information.
There are four (4) digits possible in an IP Code. For our use, only the first two (2) digits, which are mandatory, will be covered. Digit 1 describes the level of protection that an enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts, and the ingress of solid foreign objects. Digit 2 indicates the level of protection that an enclosure provides against harmful ingress of water. It should be noted that the ratings for water ingress are not cumulative. This means that just because something has a Digit 2 rating of 7, doesn't mean that it also has the Digit 2 rating of 1 - 6. If a device has protection against multiple types of ingress, it will be indicated by multiple ratings separated by a slash, for example, IPX5/IPX6.
Digit 1: Protection Against Solid Objects/Particles
|Digit Value||Effective Against||Description|
|X||-||X indicates there is not enough data available to specify a protection rating for this type of protection|
|0||-||No protection against contact or ingress of solid foreign objects|
|1||>2" (50mm)||Any large surface of the body, such as back of hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part|
|2||>.49" (12.5mm)||Fingers or similar objects|
|3||>0.098" (2.5mm)||Protection against tools, thick wires, etc.|
|4||>0.039" (1mm)||Protection against most wires, slender screws, large ants, etc.|
|5||Dust protection||Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with proper operation of equipment.|
|6||Dust tight||Complete protection against dust ingress. A vacuum must be applied, with test duration of up to 8 hours depending on airflow.|
Digit 2: Protection Against Liquid Ingress
|Digit Value||Protection Against||Effective Against||Details|
|X||-||-||X means there is not enough data available to specify a protection rating|
|0||None||-||No protection against water ingress|
|1||Dripping Water||Vertically falling drops shall have no harmful effect when mounted in an upright position on a turntable and rotated at 1 RPM||Test duration: 10 minutes
Water equivalent to .039" (1mm) rainfall per minute
|2||Dripping Water while tilted at 15° from normal position.||Vertically dripping water shall cause no harm when the enclosure is tilted at 15°. Four (4) positions are tested on two (2) axes.||Test duration: 2.5 minutes per direction (10 minutes total)
Water equivalent to .12" (3mm) rainfall per minute
|3||Spraying water.||Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from vertical shall have no harmful effect. A) Test uses either an oscillating fixture or B) a spray nozzle with a counterbalanced shield.
Test A lasts for 5 minutes, then is repeated with the test object rotated 90° horizontally for another 5-minute test. Test B is conducted with the shield in place for no less than 5 minutes.
|Test duration: For a spray nozzle, 1 minute per square meter for at least 5 minutes. Water Volume: 10 liters per minute (.037impgal/s) Pressure: 7.3-21.8 psi (50-150 kPa)
Test duration: Oscillating tube duration 10 minutes. Water volume: .00026 impgal/s (.07 liters per minute) per opening.
|4||Splashing of water.||Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
Test Utilizes either A) An oscillation fixture or B) A spray nozzle with no shield. Test A is conducted for 10 minutes. Test B is conducted without shield for 5 minutes minimum.
|Test duration: Oscillating tube duration 10 minutes. Spray nozzle is the same as #3 with the shield removed.|
|5||Water jets.||Water projected by a nozzle .25in (6.3mm) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.||Test duration: 1 minute per square meter for at least 3 minutes. Water volume: 12.5 liters per minute. Pressure: 4.4 psi (30kPa) at a distance of 9.8' (3m).|
|6||Powerful water jets.||Water projected in powerful jets .49" (12.5mm) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.||Test duration: 1 minute per square meter for at least 3 minutes. Water volume: .37 impgal/s (100 liters per minute). Pressure: 15 psi (100 kPa) at a distance of 9.8' (3m).|
|6K||Powerful water jets with increased pressure.||Water projected in powerful jets .25" (6.3mm) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure, shall have no harmful effects. This standard is found in DIN 40050, not IEC 60529.||Test duration: At least 3 minutes. Water volume: .27 impgal/s (75 liters per minute). Pressure: 150 psi (1,000 kPa) at a distance of 9.8' (3m).|
|7||Immersion, up to 3'3" (1m) in depth.||Water ingress in a harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under the defined conditions of pressure and time.||Test duration: 30 minutes. Tested with the lowest point of the enclosure 39" (1,000mm) below the surface, or the highest point 5.9" (150mm) below the surface, whichever is deeper.|
|8||Immersion, 3'3" (1m) or more in depth.||Suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions specified by the manufacturer. For some equipment, it means water can enter, so long as it causes no harmful effects. The test depth and duration should exceed the requirement for IPX7, and other environmental effects may be added, such as temperature cycling before immersion.||Test duration: Agreed upon by the manufacturer. Depth: Specified by the manufacturer, but generally up to 9.8' (3m).|
There is a Digit 2 rating of 9K, but it is reserved for specialty equipment so most DIYers won't be concerned with it. For that reason, we have omitted it here. So, when you see a product that has an IP66 rating, now you'll know what that means. It means the product is dust tight, and can stand up to powerful water jets without harmful water ingress.
The information for the tables above came from various enclosure manufacturer sites all over the web. I would have liked to have gotten the information directly from the IEC itself, but to download a PDF of this standard you must pay a hefty fee. For that reason, we did not get this information from the horse's mouth, as they say, but we attempted to fact-check it to the best of our ability. Any mistakes are the author's alone.
So, what do you think about the IP ratings system? Are you ready to take your phone out and give it a test? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Did you find this information helpful? Is there other information you'd like to see covered? Leave a comment, or shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll do our best to be accommodating. As always, stay safe!