There are some products – think earbuds – where “waterproof” or “dustproof” are selling points. But what do these terms really mean?
You should be able to find a rating beginning with the letters IP and followed by one or two numbers. But for those who are unfamiliar with the IP rating system, these numbers and letters do not necessarily answer the question.
If that last sentence applies to you, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
IP Ratings Explained
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) sets the IP standard. Depending on who you ask, the acronym “IP” stands for either “International Protection” or “Ingress Protection.” Either way, the idea is that words like “waterproof” alone are too vague to adequately represent what a customer is buying. The solution is to apply specific ratings based on a standardized code that will be the same everywhere in the world.
The waterproof rating ranges from 0 to 8, with an 8 offering the most protection. Although waterproof status generally gets the most attention, a product might also provide some measure of protection against foreign objects like dust and dirt. This ranges from 0 to 6 and is actually the first number in the rating. However, because many products only guard against water, this number is often replaced with a X, which serves as a kind of placeholder.
To provide a couple of examples, a rating of IPX1 would mean that a product is protected against vertical dripping water but nothing more than that. On the other end of the spectrum, a rating of IPX8 would protect against continuous immersion. Falling somewhere in between, a product like the Enbrighten LED Battery-Operated Mini Lantern offers an IP rating of IPX4, or protection against splashing water.
Note that, in the examples above, the “dustproof” rating is not a factor (hence the X). By contrast, a rating of IP65 would mean a 6 for dust and a 5 for water.
If you would like to refer to the code next time you’re in the market for awesome waterproof products, you can find a chart here.