What is an IP rating?
IP rating stands for “Ingress Protection” and tells the level of protection from outside contaminants like small particles (dirt, dust, etc.) and water (moisture).
It’s being used in international standards IEC 60529 (International Electrotechnical Commission), ISO 20653:2013 (International Organization for Standardization) and others. It’s also known as “IP Code”.
- 5 stands for particle protection like dust (0-6)
- 7 stands for water protection (0-9)
What is an IPX rating?
IPX rating is the same IP rating with the “X” replacing the number for particle protection.
X replaces 1st number = IPX
IP57 = IPX7
IPX only tells water protection.
Different Levels of IPX protection (Ingress Protection rating for water/liquids)
IPX rating basically tells water protection/water resistance for a device.
- IPX0 means no protection of enclosures from moisture
- IPX1 mean protection from dripping water
- IPX2 means protection from vertically dripping water
- IPX3 means protection from spayed water
- IPX4 means protection from splashed water
- IPX5 means protection from water projected from a nozzle
- IPX6 means protection from strong jets of water
- IPX7 means protection from immersion in water up to 3ft (1m) for 30 minutes
- IPX8 means better than IPX7, usually deeper depth or time in water
- IPX9 means protection against spray of water by high pressure nozzle with hot water
The biggest problems for small electrical devices are dust and water among other harmful effects.
Dust protection rating follows similar design. “X” replaces the number for water protection.
Example: IP57 = IP5X
Different Levels of Particle Protection (Ingress Protection rating for solid foreign objects)
The degree of protection that the enclosure (headphone) has against ingression of solid objects is rated from 0-6. 6 being completely dust proof.
- IP0X means no protection from ingress of small particles (dirt, dust, etc.) or incidental contact.
- IP1X means protection against objects bigger than 50mm, little protection (>50mm)
- IP2X means protection against contact with fingers and similar sized objects (>12.5mm)
- IP3X means protection against wires, small screws, etc. (>2.5mm)
- IP4X means protection against small bugs, ants, small wires, etc. (>1mm)
- IP5X means protection against dust. Dust protected but not dust tight, some dust is let in but can’t do damage.
- IP6X means complete protection against dust. Dust proof and complete protection against contact with solid objects. Test duration of up to 8 hours.
More on understanding dust protection…
If you get IP6X rated product it doesn’t mean it’s protected against all particles in all situations. Ratings are always tested in controlled environments. In case of the best, dust tight rating, these devices are exposed to windblown dust for test duration of up to 8 hours.
What happens to that protection if you drop your headphones on the floor a couple of times, or expose them to dust for longer periods of time, nobody knows. It’s good to know this because every electrical device requires at least some care.
Is IP rating the only one of its kind?
There are many different rating systems for water and particle protection but the IP rating seems to be the most recognized and used one worldwide.
NEMA rating is similar to IP rating, though NEMA is mostly used in North America while IP code is used internationally.
What’s the minimum water resistance if I want to shower with my headphones?
The absolute minimum ingress protection from water you should look for is IPX5.
This means the headphones are protected from a jet of water from a showerhead. The best waterproof headphones will also be resistant to humid environments, drip water, water spray, splash water but not against submersion in water.
Keep in mind that the higher the protection the better. It’s not hard to get IPX6 or IPX7 headphones that have a better degree of protection against ingress of water.
IPX7 rating means the electrical equipment inside the headphones is protected against immersion in water up to 30 minutes in shallow water. You can feel a lot more confident using your headphones in a shower or when bathing if you know that.