We often see this feature on a rugged device’s spec sheet, but how much do we really know about this feature and what is required for a device to gain such certification?
In the past, manufacturers can just claim that their product are water/dust proof and get away with it. This left consumers scratching their heads as to how much battering can their devices really take. This lack of sufficient information about the water/dust proof capabilities gave way to the IP standards we know today.
IP stands for Ingress/International Protection Rating and is described by IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) as the “classification/rating of the degree of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in mechanical casings and with electrical enclosures”.
By having this standard, consumers can now identify up to what conditions they can subject their device before it becomes an expensive paperweight. The equipment’s resistance to elements such as water and/or dust is numerically represented to make it easier for users to comprehend.
Coding and Protection Type
The certification is awarded to the device which meets IEC’s standards and is often signified by two numerical figures. These digits represent the device’s ability to ward off dust and the depth that it can be submerged under water. The first digit (which ranges for 0 – 6) represents the gadget’s Solid Particle Protection. This ranks the ability of an enclosure to protect the internal components of the device from foreign objects of different sizes and/or be in contact with any part of the user’s body.
Liquid Ingress Protection, on the other hand measures the enclosures ability to ward off liquids from getting in to the heart of the equipment. This is key because exposure to this element is catastrophic to any electronic device.
There are cases that one these numbers are substituted by X (IPX7, IP2X, etc). This tells us that just because an IPX7 device is waterproof, doesn’t mean that it’s also dust proof or vice versa.
In summary, we now know that not all rugged devices offers the same kind of protection against dust and/or water. Therefore, knowing what Ingress/International Protection Rating is and how it works is key to understanding our device’s limitations.