The Ruggedness of IP Ratings – Ruggedness Week Part 1/6

So the ruggedized PDA is tough, we know but as part of Ruggedness Week here at Rugged and Mobile, we ‘re going to start our inside look at ruggedness with what IP Ratings are all about.

I’ve blogged before about IP Ratings but this time we’re going to really emphasise where you can go wrong with them, especially when using them for Ruggedized PDA’s and I’ve thrown in the most common questions we get asked below.

IP Confusion

With the increasing demand in the semi-rugged market people have genuinely become confused about IP ratings.  3 years ago a Ruggedized PDA was just “rugged” IP54 usually, some IP65 and we’ve always had the more specialist IP67/68 stuff but you knew where you stood.  IP 42, IP43, what are these all about?  Well you’re about to find out!

Lets have a look at the IP tables again below:


Dust as big as arms!

The first area we see customers coming unstuck is in the levels I have crossed out.  You see IP ratings were really invented originally to assess how dangerous plant machinery was and if you look carefully at the the first table you’ll see the first 3 levels really don’t apply to Rugged PDA’s.  Whether you can get your fingers or arms in a rugged PDA simply doesn’t make sense!

Dust tight V’s Dust proof

The second area is in the IP5x and IP6x area.  Some manufacturers will tell you that their IP54 device is as dust proof as others rated at IP65 but that’s simply not the whole truth.  IP5X is what we call dust proof, it doesn’t mean that dust can’t enter the device, it can, but a Ruggedized PDA can still be IP5x or “dust proof” if that dust doesn’t alter the ability to use it in any way.  IP6X is dust tight which means dust will not enter the device.  We’ll discuss where you need IP65 in a later post in this series.

It’s not waterproof!

Likewise the second digit in the IP rating is about how water proof a rugged PDA is.  Now let’s get this out of the way right now.  until you get to IP67 or 68 the device is not watertight.  This means you can’t submerse the rugged PDA in a bucket of water and anything below 1M is a big no-no.  OK, so I’ve seen IP65 devices get dropped in water fairly regularly with no issue but on paper that’s above what it should be being asked to deal with.  If you drop an IP67 device in a swimming pool it will probably leak.

When can I wash the device?

Many devices get dusty, muddy and dirty and we get asked what rating do we need for that.  Again the answer is definitely IP54 or above as this is where you can start to “spray” the device.  IP42 for instance would not be recommended if you ever wanted to wash the rugged PDA’s you have down at any stage and I see IP65 being fine with a hose pipe.  IP54 is fine under a normal domestic water tap or shower.

Why bother with IP67 or IP68?

For most applications these are overkill on the waterproofness you need.  However it’s not just about dropping them in buckets of water.  If you;re working in a tropical environment, well I have seen IP65 struggle there, IP67 is water you need and don’t forget that whilst IP68 is OK above below 1M its down to the manufacturer to specify by exactly how far.

The lowdown on IP

IP54 is the minimum you need for a ruggedized PDA to be water and dust proof but these days we’re seeing a definite trend towards IP65.  I personally feel that if you’re pondering about IP54 or IP65 then you need to look into what you are going to use the devices for and that’s for a later post but the moral of the story here is to not go for anything under IP54 unless Ruggedness is not at the forefront of your needs.  Lastly remember that if you want a watertight device then IP67 or above is needed.

Next we take an inside  look at the Drop Spec.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

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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