A Guide To Understanding Waterproof Ratings (IP Codes)


Standard Horizon - HX870 VHF Radio

This is an essential guide to help you understand water-proof ratings when purchasing products.

When buying any kind of equipment for sailing or any other water-based activities it is highly advisable to pay attention to the water-resistance and water-proof ratings on the device.

The best rating system we currently have available is the International Protection (IP) Code System (International Protection Marking).

Here's an example product with a IP water resistance rating:

IP Code Format

IP Code Explanation Chart

Let us break this code down to better understand it so that we can become better informed consumers:

[First two letters]
First digit
[Solid particle protection]
Second digit
[Liquid protection]
IP Letter X or Single numeral: 0-6 Single numeral: 0-9

First two letters: IP

The first two letters will always start with "IP". This is simply the abbreviation indicating that it is an IP code where "IP" stands for "International Protection".

First digit: Solid particle protection

The first digit indicates the protection that the product's exterior provides against access to sensitive internal parts (example: electrical conductors, moving parts, etc.) and the ingress (penetration) of solid particles (example: dust, etc.).

Protection Level Effectiveness Description
X unknown there is no data available to specify a protection rating against any solid particles
0 none no protection against contact and ingress (penetration) of solid particles
1 > 50 mm protection against any large surface of the body (such as the back of a hand), no protection against deliberate contact with a body part
2 > 12.5 mm protection against fingers or similar objects
3 > 2.5 mm protection against tools, thick wires, etc.
4 > 1 mm protection against most wires, slender screws, large ants, etc.
5 dust protection protection against ingress (penetration) of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment
6 dust tight protection against ingress (penetration) of dust, complete protection against contact (dust tight), a vacuum must be applied, test duration of up to 8 hours based on air flow

Second digit: Liquid ingress protection

The second digit indicates the protection that the product's exterior provides against harmful ingress (penetration) of water. The ratings for water resistance are not cumulative beyond IPX6. A product which is compliant with IPX7 (covering immersion in water), need not be compliant with IPX5 or IPX6 (covering exposure to water jets). A product which meets both ratings is indicated by a slash (example: IPX5/IPX7 or IPX5/7).

Protection Level Effectiveness Description
0 none no protection against contact and ingress (penetration) of liquids
1 dripping water protection against dripping water (vertically falling drops) on the product when mounted in an upright position onto a turntable and rotated at 1 revolutions per minute (RPM)
2 dripping water when tilted at 15 degrees protection against vertically dripping water when the¬†product is tilted at an angle of 15¬į from its normal position,¬†a total of four positions are tested within two axes
3 spraying water protection against water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60¬į from the vertical, utilizing either an oscillating fixture¬†or a spray nozzle with a counterbalanced shield
4 splashing water protection against water splashing against the product from any direction, utilizing either an oscillating fixture or a spray nozzle with no shield
5 water jets (6.3 mm) protection against water projected by a jet nozzle onto the product from any direction
6 powerful water jets (12.5 mm) protection against water projected by a powerful jet nozzle onto the product from any direction
6K powerful water jets (6.3 mm) with increased pressure protection against water projected by a powerful jet nozzle onto the product from any direction under elevated pressure
7 immersion, depth <= 1 m protection against ingress (penetration) of water in harmful quantity when the product is immersed in water
8 immersion, depth > 1 m the product is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer (with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects)
9K powerful high temperature water jets protection against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs


Here's an example product with a IP water resistance rating:

The IP code water protection rating on this product is listed as IPX8. What does this mean? Let us breakdown this code into its individual components and look up the values (in the above charts):

  • First two letters: IP
    • indicating it is an IP code
  • First digit: X
    • indicating that there is no data available to indicate solid particle protection (example: dust, etc.)
  • Second digit: 8
    • indicating that the product can be immersed in water below 1 meter (metre) of depth to a maximum indicated by the manufacturer

If you enjoyed this guide then take a look at our other sailing guides

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