What does the IPX7 waterproof rating mean?

close up photo of water drop

Many electronic devices adhere to the IPX7 standard, which means they are potentially waterproof. But what is the IP standard? And what is IPX7?

This article will explore the IP standard and the IPX7 standard in particular.

What is the IP standard?

The International Protection Marking (IP Code) is a standard developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The IP Code classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects, dust, accidental contact, and water in mechanical casings and with electrical enclosures.

The code consists of the letters “IP” followed by two digits and an optional letter. The digits represent different forms of environmental influence:

  • The first digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts (e.g., electrical conductors, moving parts) and the ingress of solid foreign objects.
  • The second digit defines the protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against harmful ingress of water.

Here’s what each digit represents:

First Digit (Intrusion Protection):

  • 0: No special protection.
  • 1: Protection against solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter.
  • 2: Protection against solid objects greater than 12.5mm in diameter.
  • 3: Protection against solid objects greater than 2.5mm in diameter.
  • 4: Protection against solid objects greater than 1.0mm in diameter.
  • 5: Dust protected; limited ingress of dust permitted (no harmful deposit).
  • 6: Dust tight; no ingress of dust.

Second Digit (Moisture Protection):

  • 0: No protection.
  • 1: Protection against dripping water (vertically falling drops).
  • 2: Protection against dripping water when tilted up to 15 degrees from its normal position.
  • 3: Protection against spraying water; water sprayed at an angle up to 60 degrees from vertical.
  • 4: Protection against splashing water; water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.
  • 5: Protection against water jets; water projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
  • 6: Protection against heavy seas or powerful jets of water; water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
  • 7: Protection against immersion up to 1 meter; ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1m of submersion).
  • 8: Protection against prolonged effects of water submersion under pressure.

An X can be used in place of either digit when the protection level against that type of intrusion isn’t rated or relevant.

Please note that even a high IP rating does not guarantee indefinite protection in all circumstances, so it’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s instructions or guidelines.

What is the IPX7 waterproof rating?

The IPX7 waterproof rating is a standard that relates to the product’s ability to resist water and moisture. It is a part of the larger International Protection Marking (IP Code), sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking, which is a classification system showing the degrees of protection from solid objects and liquids.

When a product is rated as IPX7:

  • “IP” stands for “Ingress Protection”.
  • The “X” is a placeholder for a number that would normally indicate the level of protection against solid objects (like dust). An X indicates that the device hasn’t been rated for protection against solid objects, or that rating is less important than the liquid ingress protection.
  • The “7” indicates the level of water resistance.

In practical terms, an IPX7 rating means the product can withstand immersion in water up to 1 meter (about 3.3 feet) for up to 30 minutes without suffering harmful ingress of water.

It’s important to note, however, that “waterproof” does not always mean the item can be used while submerged or can withstand powerful water jets, prolonged exposure, or certain types of liquids. It simply means it can resist a certain level of water intrusion without damage. Also, this rating doesn’t account for resistance to other elements, such as chemicals, oils, or physical impact.

It’s always a good idea to check the manufacturer’s instructions for care and use to make sure you’re not putting the product at risk.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

View all posts by John Biggs →

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