The IP Code- What is it and Can it Help Protect You Against Water Damage?

hzo_protected_bwA while back, we wrote an article defining the differences between water-resistant, water-repellent, and waterproof. The article explained that all devices have different levels of protection against water damage. The question now is: how is it that the watch you own came to be rated as water-resistant in the first place? Who decides what level of water damage protection is assigned to iPhones, iPods, and all other electronic devices? There is actually a rating scale used by in various industries that is designed to test how well devices hold up against water damage in the real world. This rating is called the IP Code, or Ingress Protection Rating, and has regulated water damage protection levels for years.

The IP Code serves two purposes: one, to score an object on how much protection it provides against dust, dirt, and other contaminating particles, and two, how much it resists the ingress of water. This means how much it resists water inside of the device. This is helpful because rather than using vague terms like waterproof and water-resistant, which can often be misleading, the IP Code aims to give manufacturers and consumers a better idea of how their products will stand up against water damage.

More On Water Damage and the IP Code

The next question is- how do you read and use the IP Code? The IP Code for particle protection is rated on a scale from 0-6, with zero being no protection against particle ingress and six being no ingress of particles into the device at all. The IP Code for liquid ingress protection, which is the one that we want to focus on, rates items on a scale from 0-8, with zero being no protection against water damage or water ingress, and eight being suitable for total submersion in water greater than one meter in depth for an extended period of time. For example, let’s say your device gets a rating of an IP43. This means an item rated IP43 is rated a four against particle ingress and a three for water damage protection. Sometimes you will see electronic devices that are rated something like IPX4, which means it was not tested for particle protection at all, so the ‘X’ is just used as a placeholder where the particle ingress rating would normally be, and the four is still the rating against water damage.

Where Does HZO Fall on the IP Code?

Now that you are an expert in deciphering what the IP Code means, you should know that it is not a perfect system. For one, only electronics that are considered “ruggedized” are currently certified with an IP number, making it difficult to place where your “non-ruggedized,” every-day devices rank. This is because ruggedized products are specially made with a number of extra plugs and seals designed to defend against the ingress of water, helping with the problem of water damage. This leads us to the second problem: it’s great that we have a scale that tells us how long devices last against water damage while keeping water out, but what about devices and products that protect against water damage while still allowing water in? There are a few different thin-film nano coatings on the market now, with HZO technology standing out among some of the other options to protect devices from water damage without the use of plugs, seals, or extra gaskets at the manufacturing level. Until a new system is developed, which is something we are actually working to develop now in creating the “HZO Standard,” technology such as ours ends up somewhere in rating scale limbo.

So the next time you see something with an IP Code rating, remember what you read here and keep that rating in mind! It may keep you a little safer from water damage, plus give you a better idea what that device is really capable of defending itself from.

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