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What is IP68? What is the IP Rating System?

by | Feb 11, 2019 | Cable Protection | 0 comments

What is IP68 (or IP67 for that matter)?  What is this IP rating system?  Why does any of this matter?

In recent years the IP Rating System has become all the rage, and for good reason.  You may have seen it when you purchased a new smartphone or similar electronic device, so what is it?

What is the IP Rating System?

The IP Rating System is a standardized rating system that evaluates how enclosed equipment stands up to ingress; or in other words how well an enclosure keeps a solid or liquid from working its way into an enclosure.  IP stands for Ingress Protection and the 1st number refers to the level of protection against solid objects while the 2nd number refers to the level of protection against liquids.

For example, an IP00 would stand for:

IP

0

0

Ingress Protection

No protection from solid ingress

No protection from liquid ingress

So if the table above wasn’t already an indication, an IP00 would be a very bad IP rating.  Lower numbers indicate that an enclosure has little to no ingress protection while higher numbers provide greater ingress protection.

When trying to understand IP ratings it’s critical to have a basic understanding of the rating scales.  For example, a rating of IP67 would appear as though the enclosure has better liquid ingress protection than it does solid protection.  However, the solid ingress ratings top out at 6 while the water ingress scale tops out at 8.  So in reality, a rating of IP67 would indicate that an enclosure has better solid ingress protection than it does liquid ingress protection.

For solids the higher the number goes the smaller the particle the enclosure is able to withstand, as can be seen below:

First Digit: Solid Ingress

Digit

Level of Protection

0

No protection at all against ingress from foreign objects

1

Protected against solid foreign objects that are greater than 50 mm (about 2 inches)

2

Any hazardous parts cannot be accessed by a finger or solid objects greater than 12.5 mm (about half an inch).

3

Hazardous parts cannot be accessed using a tool, such as a screwdriver, or by solid foreign objects greater than 2.5 mm (about one-tenth of an inch)

4

Hazardous parts cannot be accessed with a wire or foreign objects greater than 1.0 mm

5

Hazardous parts cannot be accessed with a wire and protection against ingress from dust is also applicable.

6

The item is completely sealed off from dust, there is no ingress of dust at all

The water ingress scale can technically go up to 9k, which is a specialized unit that refers to protection “against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.” However. for the majority of applications it’s much more typical to see a range between 0 and 8 on the water ingress scale, as seen below.

Second Digit: Liquid Ingress

Digit

Level of Protection

0

No protection at all against ingress by liquids

1

Protected against solid foreign objects that are greater than 50 mm (about 2 inches)

2

Protection against falling liquid drops at an angle up to 15 degrees

3

Protected against ingress from spraying liquids

4

Protection against ingress from splashing liquids

5

Protected against ingress from  jets of liquid

6

Protection against ingress from powerful jets of liquid

7

Protection from temporary immersion in liquid, immersed in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes with no harmful effects

8

Protected against water immersion to a greater depth, (more than 1 meter, often 2 meters)

The newer iPhones are a good example of where it helps to know the differences in the IP rating system.  The iPhone XS is rated at IP68 while the iPhone 8 is rated at IP67.  Both ratings have a rating of 6 for dust, (the best possible), so the difference is the water ingress rating. 

The table above shows that the difference between 7 and 8 on the liquid ingress is the depth each has been tested at.  Apple clearly states this on their website that the iPhone 8 is an IP67 device and has a “maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes”, while the IP68 rated iPhone XS has a “maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes.”

It should be said that having the highest IP ratings doesn’t mean something is completely waterproof.  If, (for example) a smartphone was tested for 30 minutes up to a certain depth without experiencing water ingress it doesn’t mean you’re safe to go take underwater photos with your smartphone.  During testing devices/enclosures are typically tested with distilled water and applications on the phone are not in use during the test.  This is why the words “water resistant” are used by companies and not the term “waterproof.”  Add salt water, movement, or other variables and there is a chance ingress can occur.

Conclusion

Although it initially requires a bit of explanation the IP rating is a pretty straightforward rating system that creates an easy to use, international standard.  If you have a device or enclosure that you know may be exposed to the elements it’s a standard that should be referenced.

It’s for these exact reasons our team at Gamma Electronics works hard to ensure our products meet the highest IP ratings.  Our cable protection products in particular are designed to be able to withstand the elements and we are very pleased that a number of those products have received the highest IP solid and ingress protection ratings.  Check them out on our Cable Protection page.

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