IP Ratings Explained – What Are They, What’s The Difference, And What Do They Mean?

In this blog post, we will cover the term “Ingress Protection” (IP), how to calculate IP ratings, what to look for, and what the difference is between the various IP ratings.

IP Rating explained

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Ingress Protection ratings (IP ratings) are used to describe how resistant a product is to ingress damage. The U.S. military uses these ratings to protect soldiers from harm when using their gear in battle.

So why would you care about these ratings? Well, if your headphones or other audio equipment becomes damaged by a water spill, dust cloud, or other physical elements, it could affect your ability to work with it.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t want that to happen. It’s also important to note that a water spill can’t always be avoided. This is why you’ll see these ratings on products you buy.

This article will explain Ingress Protection ratings so you know what to expect from a particular product. It’ll also help you figure out which products work best for you.

Is it Dustproof? (IP)

The first number of IP ratings means how the device is protected against the ingress of dust, sand, and solid structures.

Rating

Object size

Protect against

IP0X

0

No protection against contact and ingress of objects

IP1X

>50mm

Any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part

IP2X

>12.5mm

Fingers or similar objects

IP3X

>2.5mm

Tools, thick wires, etc.

IP4X

>1mm

Most wires, screws, etc. but not sand

IP5X

Dust protected

Withstands the ingression of sand and dust; complete protection against contact.

IP6X

Dust-tight

Completely sealed and dustproof; complete protection against contact.

Is it Waterproof?

The second number of the IPX Rating means how the device is protected against the ingress of water and immersion.

Rating

Level

Effective against

IPX0

Not protected

No water/moisture protection

IPX1

Dripping water

Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no unsafe effect. Water equivalent to 1 mm (0.039 in) rainfall per minute.

IPX2

Dripping water when tilted at 15°

Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15° from its normal position. Water equivalent to 3 mm (0.12 in) rainfall per minute.

IPX3

Spraying water

Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect. Water volume: 10 liters per minute.

IPX4

Splashing of water

Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect. 

IPX5

Water jets

Water projected by a nozzle against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects. Water volume: 12.5 liters per minute.

IPX6

Powerful water jets

Water projected in powerful jets against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects. Water volume: 100 liters per minute.

IPX7

Immersion, up to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) depth

Waterproof against immersion limited by time and pressure (30min, 1m in depth)

IPX8

Immersion, 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) or more depth

The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions that shall be specified by the manufacturer. Depth specified by the manufacturer, generally up to 3 meters (9.8 ft)

IPX9

Powerful high-temperature water jets

Completely water-sealed even at high pressure and temperature

IP Rating Chart

The following chart is designed to guide you through the process of selecting the right IP ratings.

IP Ratings Chart
Download in PDF format

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The Most Common IP Codes on Headphones and Bluetooth Speakers

IP44 – It means that the product is protected against small solid particles larger than 1mm, but not sand and that it is also protected against splashing water from any direction. The IP code does not mean that the product is waterproof.

IP55 – It means that the product is protected against dust. However, it is not fully dustproof but enough to protect against malfunction. And it is also protected against water jets from any direction.

IP67 – Complete protection against dust, so it is dustproof. And it is also waterproof up to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) of submersion for 30min.

IPX4 – No data about protection against solid particles but it is protected against splashing water from any direction.

IPX5 – No data about the protection of solid particles but it is protected from jet water from any direction.

IPX6 – No data on the protection against solid particles, however, it is protected from powerful water jets.

IPX7 – No data about the ingress of solid particles, but it is waterproof when immersed up to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) of submersion for 30min.

IPX8 – No solid particles protection data is available, but it is waterproof up to 3 meters (9 ft 9 in) for 30min.

IPX9K – Maybe it is not protected against solid particles but is fully protected against powerful high-temperature water jets.

Why are Ingress Protection Ratings Important?

An IP rating is a measurement of how much water and dust can penetrate the enclosure. It’s a rating for headphones, Bluetooth speakers, and other audio devices. Ingress protection ratings are important because they give us an idea of how much water is likely to seep through the walls of a device enclosure.

How do Ingress Protection Ratings Affect How Well Your Headphones are Rated?

Ingress protection ratings are a key factor in the effectiveness of your headphones. A lot of people don’t think much about what makes headphones protected against ingress. Some of the most common things to protect against are noise-canceling headphones getting wet, dirty, or dusty and the possibility of being dropped.

But even something like that could potentially damage the circuitry inside the headphones and cause them to fail, especially if they’re a high-end pair. Even the slightest amount of moisture can destroy your headphones.

To prevent this from happening, manufacturers have devised ways to protect headphones in the most extreme environments. They’ve put in waterproofing, dust proofing, and EIS (Electro-Infective Shielding).

FAQs

Sweatproof vs waterproof

Sweatproof means that you can wear your device without fear of it getting wet or wetting the surrounding area. However, it doesn’t mean that the device is completely waterproof. These are devices with an IPX4+ rating.

Waterproof devices are completely watertight and can be used in wet areas like pools or bathrooms. These audio devices have an IPX7+ rating but ideally IPX8 at minimum.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the ratings reflect the level of protection offered by any outdoor audio equipment against penetration by water and solid particles. The higher the rating, the more resistant the panel is to these substances.

References

1. IEC 60529, “degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures (IP Codes),” Ed. 2.1 (Geneva: International Electrotechnical Commission, 2011)

2. Wikipedia

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