Learning how water proof IP ratings work for a mobile computer

We’re going back to our roots and celebrating “Ruggedness”  and for a whole month, week by week we’re going to be talking about everything that makes your rugged device rugged, whether it be water, dust, drop, tumble, casings, design or whatever else we have locked away in our rugged focussed brains here at RAM!

This week we’re going to deep dive into water, how IP ratings work, how to work out what you need and to give you the low down on IP ratings and what they really mean to ruggedness.

What is an “IP” Rating

An IP rating literally stands for Ingress Protection and it’s a certified way you measure how well any mobile device can withstand water and dust.  We’ll come on to dust next week but this article focusses on the water side of the rating.

So the IP rating comes with 2 numbers after it and you’ve probably seen numbers like IP54, IP65 or even IP68 on spec sheets of devices you’re looking at.  Well these 2 numbers mean something. The first digit tells you how well a rugged pda resists dust particles, the second digit is the one we’re interested in this article as it tells you have well a mobile device resists water.

Water resistance for ruggedness – what you’ll see on the spec sheets

Although the table goes  from 0 to 8, we’re only interested in IPx5 to IPx8 because 5 is the minimum a PDA device requires to be regarded as fully rugged.  There’s a good table here with short explanations of what it means in layman terms with a device by each one to give you an idea of what has which IP rating.

Extra ratings

There are 2 new additional ratings added to the above table that aren’t seen much, if at all in rugged PDA IP spec sheets.  These are here:

IPx6K – Powerful water jets with increased protection.  This is the same test as used in IPx6 in the table above but with increased pressure.

IP9K – Powerful high temperature water jets. Sitting at the bottom of the table this level tests for close range, high pressure and high temperature spray downs.

NEMA Ratings

You can sometimes find a NEMA rating on spec sheets and this stands for “North American Enclosure Rating.”  They’re rare to see on rugged  device spec sheets but they simply give you an equivalent rating designed to simplify the ruggedness level of a device. For those who want a peek, the NEMA specs are here

So in the next article we’ll be taking you deeper into the water proof-ness of rugged devices with a look at how they test and what you might need for your mobile application hardware.


About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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