What Are IP Ratings? | IP Ratings Explained

What Are IP Ratings? | IP Ratings Explained

Lots of products, from two-way radios to outdoor speakers, come with an IP rating. But what do they mean? Well, read on and we'll tell you!

An IP rating- or "ingress protection" rating- is a two-digit grading system used to describe whether something is dustproof or waterproof and to what extent. Unlike vaguer terms like "waterproof", which can mean different things to different people, IP ratings are there to give buyers confidence that the product they are looking at is suitable for their requirements.

There's no one international body that oversees IP ratings, but they are overseen regionally by governing bodies in the UK, EU, and the rest of the world. Here in the UK, they come under British Standard EN 60529:1992. That means that legally speaking, anything with an IP rating needs to have been properly tested before it can be sold with the rating attached.

Every IP rating is made up of two numbers- for example, "IP56". The first number, which will be between zero and six, refers to protection against dust, or "intrusion protection". The second refers to protection against water. This can be between zero and nine, although it's much more common for them to only run up to seven. So for example, the Motorola T92 radio has an IP67 rating- meaning it is completely dustproof, and waterproof for up to 30 minutes in water 1m deep.

Intrusion Protection - First Digit

  • 0 - No protection
  • 1 - Protection from solid objects more than 50mm wide- for instance, would protect against a hand, but not a finger
  • 2 - Protection from solid objects more than 12mm wide
  • 3 - Protection from solid objects more than 2.5mm wide, such as wires or small tools
  • 4 - Protection from solid objects more than 1mm wide
  • 5 - Partially dustproof
  • 6 - Completely dustproof

This figure is used for two different purposes. Firstly, it indicates protection for users against moving parts inside the device. However, this usually only applies to industrial machinery. More commonly, it's used to refer to protection from dust and debris. Most tools like saws and drills come with an IP5X rating, since they create dust during use. It's common for waterproof items to be dustproof as well, but this isn't always the case.

Moisture Protection - Second Digit

  • 0 - No protection
  • 1 - Protection from condensation
  • 2 - Protection from vertical drops up to 15 degrees from vertical
  • 3 - Protection from vertical spray up to 60 degrees from vertical
  • 4 - Protection from splashes at any angle
  • 5 - Protection from low-pressure jets from any angle- some ingress is allowed to get a 4 or 5, but not enough to cause any damage to internal components
  • 6 - Protection from direct, high-pressure jets of water
  • 7 - Completely waterproof in depths of up to 1m for up to 30 minutes
  • 8 - Protection from immersion in greater depths, where there is higher pressure
  • 9 - Protection from like high-pressure, high-temperature jets, such as a car wash

The second digit in an IP rating refers to protection from water and other liquids. The final two numbers here, eight and nine, are a little less specific than the rest. This is because they normally only apply to specialist industrial equipment, or in the case of IPX9, vehicles.


You might sometimes see products listed with an X in place of one of the numbers. This isn't, strictly speaking, an IP rating- it's normally used in place of a zero. It doesn't necessarily mean that the product isn't waterproof or dustproof; it just means that it hasn't been specifically tested for the other digit.

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