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IP Rating – what does it mean and why does it matter?

No matter if you buy a new iPhone or the latest industrial computer vision system, IP ratings will cross your path. This short article and the included cheat sheet will give you a good overview about the different ratings and their meanings.

The Ingress Protection (IP) rating is a protection standard, which gets defined by the European IEC in 60509:1989 (International EN 60529; British BS EN 60529:1992). This standard informs the customer, which level of protection does a product´s electrical enclosure offer against solids and liquids.

Taking a look at the Apple iPhone 7 for example. It has an IP67 rating, which means that the device is completely protected from solid materials like dirt or sand. Furthermore, it indicates that the device can be immersed into liquids up to 1 m for a period of max. 30 minutes.

Let’s break it down. As in the short example above, the rating standard gets indicated by the letters “IP”, always followed by two digits e.g. IP67.

    • Thereby the first digit gives information about the protection level against solid objects.
    • The second digit indicates the liquid ingress protection
The following cheat sheet gives you a nice overview about the different rating combinations. As can be seen, the protection levels increase with higher designation ratings.

Consequently, the final IP rating is a combination of the solid and liquid rating digits:

  • IP65 – Dust tight, protected against jet-water
  • IP68 – Dust tight; protected against permanent immersion in water
  • IP69K – Dust tight; protected against close-range high pressure and high temperature spray downs

Please keep in mind, that IP68 and IP69K seem similar but they are not. It is true that they share the same protection level against solid objects (dust tight). However, IP68 is rated for permanent immersion in water, whereas IP69K involves close-range high pressure washing at high temperatures.

IPX Ratings: Maybe you already have seen IP ratings including an “X” like IPX5. Even though it´s not an entirely valid rating, it´s commonly used when insufficient data has been gathered to assign a level of protection. In the give example the X5 indicates, that the protection level against solid objects is not known, but protection against jet-water is given.

To sum up, environmental factors can have a huge negative impact on electronical goods. Depending on the given electronical device, the operational area will be different. While an iPhone must be protected at least against dust and rain drops, an industrial camera system most of the times faces harsher challenges. As a matter of fact, the ocuyltics camera systems are operating in the food industry, meaning that they must be immune against daily high-pressure temperature cleaning work.

We hope this short summary helps you to choose the appropriate IP rating in the future, so that a long live cycle for your electronical device is guaranteed.

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