If you’ve purchased a waterproof speaker or smartphone recently, you may have noticed its IP Code rating. For example, you may have seen ‘IPX7 Waterproof’ printed on the packaging of a JBL Flip 5, or ‘IP65/68’ on the box of a Sony Xperia 5 II.
As you may have guessed, the IP Code indicates the level of weather sealing each device has. As consumer demand for dust and waterproof electronics has increased, the code has featured prominently in the marketing of these models, and plenty of others.
However, while terms like water-resistant and dust-resistant leave room for interpretation, the IP Code does not. It’s an independent classification system, not a marketing phrase. And in a market obsessed with weather sealing, it’s helpful to know a device’s dust and waterproofing grade before you buy it.
Who Created the IP Code
The first edition of the code was created in 1976 by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The IEC is a global, not-for-profit organization founded in London in 1906. Today, the IEC has 6 offices around the world and members from over 170 countries. According to their website, the IEC is the “world’s leading organization for the preparation and publication of international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies.”
The IP Code is one of over 10,000 standards the IEC has created. It was developed to grade the protection provided by the casing or enclosure of electrical equipment with a rated voltage below 72,5 kV. The code also stipulates the tests that need to be performed to verify an enclosure meets the requirements of each grade.
How the IP Code Works
The code typically includes four characters – two letters and two numerals. The first two characters are always IP, which stand for Ingress Protection.
The first numeral after IP indicates the device enclosure’s protection against dust and dirt. On a scale from 0 to 6, 0 indicates there is no protection. 6 means the enclosure is 100% dustproof.
The second number indicates the enclosure’s protection against water, on a scale from 0 to 9. Again, 0 indicates there is no protection. 9 means the enclosure can withstand high pressure hot water from different angles.
What Does IPX7 Waterproof Mean?
The graphic above displays what each numeral represents on each scale. Sometimes, the level of protection is unknown or hasn’t been tested. In these cases, an ‘X’ replaces the numeral.
IPX7 Waterproof means the device has level 7 water sealing, while its protection against dust is unknown. This rating is common on recent outdoor speaker models, including the JBL Flip 5.
What Does IP65/68 Mean?
A high water grade does not imply the device also meets the standards of all lower grades. As the graphic above shows, some of the water grades have two different standards.
For example, a smartphone with an IP68 rating means the device is “protected against the effects of continuous immersion in water” and the “ingress of water is not possible when the enclosure is continuously immersed in water” under specific conditions. However, the phone may not be protected from “water projected in jets… from any direction” as a device with level 5 proofing would.
The Sony Xperia 5 II has a rating of IP65/68. This means it meets the standards for both grade 5 and grade 8 waterproofing.
What to Look Out For
If you don’t see an IP Code in the messaging or packaging of an electronics device, it doesn’t mean it offers no weather proofing. The IP Code has only prominently featured in consumer marketing in the last 10 years.
If you’re specifically looking for a smartphone or speaker that can withstand exposure to water, dust, and dirt, the IP Code will be immensely helpful. It allows you to compare the weatherproofing of competing models, and make an informed decision about which device is right for you. While weatherproofing is just one factor to consider, it’s good to know exactly what level of protection a device has before you buy it.
If you’re interested in learning more about the IP Code, you can access a consolidated version of the code here.