Understanding IP Ratings

26th May 2022

When buying gauges for marine or any other industry knowing the IP rating or IP code  (International Protection or Ingress Protection) can help you to make an informed decision. Additionally, if you are a distributor it can be a clear indicator to your clients about exactly what they are purchasing.

This IP rating is based on a number of astringent tests in order to reach the standards defined by the international standard EN 60529, British BS EN 60529:1992 or European IEC 60509:1989. An IP rating is given to anything which uses electricity or has moving parts, or both in some circumstances.

But how do you go about interpreting these codes?

Each of the two numbers within the code (e.g., IP67) will provide information about the product.

For example, the first digit can be between 0-6 offering the least to the most protection:

  • 0/X – No protection
  • 1 – Objects greater than 50mm diameter
  • 2 – Objects greater than 12.5mm diameter
  • 3 – Objects greater than 2.5mm diameter
  • 4 – Objects greater than 1mm diameter
  • 5 – Dust Protection
  • 6 – Dust Tight

The second digit is between 0 and 9 offering the least to most protection:

  • 0/X – No protection
  • 1 – Vertically dripped water
  • 2 – Vertically dripped water (15 degrees)
  • 3 – Spraying water
  • 4 – Splashed water
  • 5 – Jetting water (6.3mm nozzle)
  • 6 – Powerful jetting water (12.5mm nozzle)
  • 7 – Temporary submersion (1mm depth max)
  • 8 – Contiguous submersion (1mm depth +)
  • 9 – High pressure/steam jet

So, for example with the Veethree J1939 CANbus gauges they have an IP rating of IP67 which means they are dust tight and can withstand temporary submersion up to 1mm in depth.

Additional figures

In addition to these two numbers sometimes there can be an additional character or figure which is almost viewed as a standalone rating. These can provide information about further elements of protection.  The first four (A, B, C, D) offer information about the protection the device offer the user such as protection to hands, fingers or tools. The next five offer information about what protection the device offers and can be used to guide decision making.

  • F – Oil resistant
  • H – High voltage device
  • M – device monitoring during water test
  • S – Device standing still during water test
  • W – Weather conditions (i.e., weatherproof)

Knowing what protection is needed

When choosing a gauge or piece of equipment and deciding whether the IP rating is adequate you need to evaluate how the device will be used.

  • Boats – Protection against water, and corrosives
  • Off-road vehicles – Protection against water and dust
  • Construction vehicles – Protection from dust as well as impact from falling objects

There is little point hunting for a gauge with high impact and dust protection if the intended destination is a boat as it won’t be suited for that environment. But equally if you know the equipment will be jet washed then you need one with an IP56 or IP66 in order to protect it.  It should be clear that no IP rating is better or worse than another, it is simply about whether it is suitable for the job in hand.

Risks of an inadequate rating  

Choosing the wrong rating for the use of the gauge can obviously have a financial impact as it is likely to need replacing a lot sooner than one with the correct rating. Additionally, you could be risking:

  • Corrosion or rust
  • Decline in function
  • Electrical faults
  • Downtime due to repairs

You will know that any electronic device which carries an IP rating has had to pass through a series of tests in order to achieve the standard. It is a transparent means of identifying what level of protection the item holds without having to rely on marketing and sales copy and will make choosing the right equipment easier.

When choosing a gauge with adequate protection understanding the IP rating is a sound way of ensuring you have the right equipment for the job in hand. If you are not sure, contact the team at Veethree and we will be happy to help.