It goes without saying that cameras, NVRs or other security equipment for industrial, outdoors or other applications that are critical in nature should be toughened and hardened to withstand extreme conditions. To find out how strong a product is against water or particles, it is better to refer to its IP rating rather than relying on generalized terms such as “waterproof” or “dustproof.”
That’s the argument presented by Larson Electronics in a recent whitepaper. According to the study, terms like “waterproof” are vague and sometimes can be misleading. “Contrary to popular belief, waterproof equipment, such as lights or industrial cameras, can be damaged by water. The term ‘waterproof’ does not necessarily allow people to submerge equipment in deep water for long periods of time,” it said.
As a result, it is better for the user to refer to the product’s Ingress Protection (also known as International Protection) rating, for example IP55, IP67 and IP69K. These ratings, as defined in international standard EN 60529 (British BS EN 60529:1992, European IEC 60509:1989), dictate the level of waterproof protection, in terms of depth of immersion, exposure to water jets and temperature, the paper said.
Breaking down IP codes
According to the paper, IP codes consist of two primary components: solid particle protection (first number, 0-6) and liquid ingress protection (second number, 0-9). The first digit indicates the following:
- 0: No protection
- 1: >50mm; protection from solid objects
- 2: >12.5mm; fingers or similar objects
- 3: >2.5mm; tools, wires
- 4: >1mm; wires, screws, large ants
- 5: Dust Protected; thorough but incomplete protection from dust
- 6: Dust Tight; complete protection from dust and contact
The second digit indicates the following:
- 0: No protection
- 1: Protection from dripping water
- 2: Protection from vertically dripping water, tilted at 15 degrees
- 3: Protection from spraying water up to 60 degrees
- 4: Protection from splashing water, all angles
- 5: Protection from water jets, projected by a 6.3mm nozzle, all angles
- 6: Protection from powerful water jets, projected by a 12.5mm nozzle, all angles
- 7: Immersion up to 3 feet
- 8: Immersion beyond 3 feet (hermetically sealed)
- 9K: Protection from close-range pressure and high temperatures
According to the paper, for the last letter in some IP ratings, F stands for oil resistance, H for high voltage, M for device moving during tests, S for device standing during tests, and W for weather conditions.
The above descriptions can help users gain a better understanding of the strength of their products. “For example, IP67, one of the most common IP ratings, means that the unit is completely protected from dust and may be immersed in water up to three feet or one meter. IP68 simply extends the immersion features of IP67, allowing for deeper immersion beyond three feet or one meter,” the paper said. “The highest rating one could possibly achieve is IP69K. This superior IP rating suggests complete protection from dust and protection from steam-jet cleaning and water temperatures up to 80 degrees Celsius. Some regulations, including IEC 60529, refer to the testing of IP69K as IPx9.”
NEMA and submersibles
According to the paper, another indication of an equipment’s waterproof capabilities is the set of NEMA ratings. Specifically, NEMA 6 and 6P ratings allow objects to be completely submerged in liquids (water or oil), and the numerical ending dictates the duration of exposure, with 6 referring to temporary submersion and 6P referring to occasional, prolonged submersion. However, it cautioned that both NEMA 6 and 6P are not intended for continuous, long submersion. Further, the paper referred to NEMA 4 and 4X, which indicate a watertight enclosure. The “X” in 4X refers to a heightened level of corrosion resistance, it said.
“The next time you see the term ‘waterproof’ on a label, it might be worth digging a bit deeper into the IP rating to understand how much exposure to water or dust the unit can take,” the paper concluded. “This precautionary step could extend the lifespan of your lighting equipment and improve safety during operation.”