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IP ratings explained: ingress protection and what it means for cases

Richard Coombes: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Guides and Advice | Transit Protection xx 31623

Everything You Need to Know About IP Ratings, Explained

And how this lets you choose a suitable protective case

If you have ever needed to source protective cases, you may have noticed that some come with an IP rating. Some are higher than others. But, most importantly, some claim to be waterproof.

In fact, even the new iPhone has an IP rating.

IP Ratings guide
This IP ratings guide lets you know exactly what the classifications mean, and why it can be important for your protective cases

This guide provides a thorough overview of exactly what IP ratings are, how you can use them, and what it means for the protective cases that you use (or may need to source) for your business and / or application.

Quick Reference / Contents

01: What are IP ratings / IP codes?

Explanation of ingress protection ratings

IP, standing for an Ingress Protection is often found in the form of a table. An IP rating is a measure of an enclosure or cases ability to resist items entering it.

This could be large items such as a hand, or small items such as dust, or even water.

If you would like IP ratings explained in full, this blog will provide you with all the information you need.

Otherwise known as Ingress Protection. An IP certification rating table or chart, has been constructed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for international use. EN 60529 is the subsequent British standard.

IP Ratings are classified by categorical codes. These, in turn, summarise the scale of protection offered from estranged articles such as; substantial objects, dirt and moisture.

Water damage
Water damage can cost your business significant amounts of money in broken equipment and missed deadlines

02: How the Coding Works

The two digits of IP ratings explained

The IEC standard 60529 provides you with a more detailed guide than more generic marketing terms often applied when talking about water resistance.

This means you can determine the exact levels of protection against moisture. Instead of an item simply being “waterproof”.

An IP rating is, in summary, a two digit code. The first digit establishes the level of protection against intrusion of foreign bodies. The second the resistance against moisture intrusion.

Together, this informs you of precise the level of protection that will be offered by the specific case or enclosure.

Any product with an IP rating must withstand an assortment of tests. These tests determine the items’ efficiency in a range of circumstances.

Ultimately, an IP rating allows to you be able to make an educated choice regarding the appropriateness of the products’ suitability for your specific application.

03: IP Rating Tables

Detailed information on IP rating classifications

Below are the tables which specify what each “digit” in the IP level relates to.

Alternatively, please use the link above to download an “IP ratings explained” full IP rating chart PDF.

First Digit – Protection of foreign body intrusion



Protected Against



No protection



Objects greater than 50mm

Protects from large parts of the body such as the back of the hand but, will not protect deliberate contact with body parts


Objects greater than 12.5 mm

Protects against fingers and objects of a similar size to the fingers


Objects greater than 2.5mm

Tools and thick cables are included in this level


Objects greater than 1 mm

Includes most wires, screws and large ants / small insects


Dust protected

Some protection from dust as long as its not exposed to a large quantity


Dust tight

A vacuum must be applied and will protect against contact of dust

Second Digit – Moisture protection levels



Protected Against



No protection



Dripping water –

vertically falling when mounted in an upright position

Test time –

10 minutes

Water equivalent is 1mm of rainfall per minute


Dripping water when tilted at 15 degrees

all four positions are tested

Test time –

2.5 minutes per tilt

Water equivalent is 3mm of rainfall per minute


Spraying water –

up to 60 degrees from the vertical

Test time for a spray nozzle –

1 minute per square metre (at least 5 minutes)

Test time for an oscillating tube –

10 minutes


Water splash –

from any direction

Test time –

10 minutes


Water jets –

from a nozzle of 6.3mm

Test time –

1 minute per square metre with 12.5 litres of water per minute including a pressure of 30 kPa from 3 metres


Powerful water jets –

from a nozzle of 12.5mm

Test time –

1 minute per square meter with 100 litres of water per minute including a pressure of 100 kPa from 3 metres.


Submersion of up to 1m depth

Test time –

30 minutes


Submersion for depth of 1m or more

Test time –

test time and depth should be specified by the manufacturer

04: Summary Chart

Full details of specific IP ratings

Please see below for a summary table of all the IP ratings explained. This also explains how the two digits work together in order to create the IP rating.

First Digit – Solids

Second Digit – Liquids


Level of protection against foreign objects

Level of protection against moisture

Example of how the number is defined

0 Not protected

Not protected

1 Objects greater than 50mm

1 Vertically falling dripping water

2 Objects greater than 12.5mm

Dripping water titled at 15 degrees

3 Objects greater than 2.5mm

Spraying water

4 Object greater than 1mm

Water splash

5 Dust protected

Water jets

Dust tight

Powerful water jets

Submersion of up to 1m depth

Submersion for depth of 1m or more

05: Additional Letters / Classifications

Designation of additional information

In addition to the tables above, the IEC also make use of additional letters to provide further related information. This information details the protection of the device.

A breakdown of these letters and their meanings are as follows:

IK Letter IK Meaning
F Oil resistance
H High voltage device
M Device moving during water test
S Still device during water test
W Weather conditions

06: Mechanical Impact Classification

Resistance to a mechanical impact

The IEC can also apply an additional number. This number specifies the equipment’s resistance to a mechanical impact.

Once included as part of an IP Code, the mechanical rating system has now been given its’ own separate code.  This begins with IK and is then followed by 2 digits. The table for mechanical impact ratings can be found below.

IK number Impact Energy (Joules) Impact equivalent to:
00 Unprotected No test complete
01 0.15 200g dropped through 7.5cm space
02 0.2 200g dropped through 10cm space
03 0.35 200g dropped through 17.5cm space
04 0.5 200g dropped through 25cm space
05 0.7 200g dropped through 35cm space
06 1 500g dropped through 20cm space
07 2 500g dropped through 40cm space
08 5 1.7kg dropped through 29.5cm space
09 10 5kg dropped through 20cm space
10 20 5kg dropped through 40cm space

07: Waterproof vs Water Resistant

What is the difference between the two terms?

IP ratings have been highlighted in mainstream news recently with the launch on the new iPhone (IPhone 7).

The IPhone 7 IP rating is IP67. Which, follows on from a number of other smart phones (notably Samsungs’ IP68 rated phone). Phone manufacturers are now using IP ratings as a key benefit / selling point.

What that means for the newest generation of smartphones and tablets is that, asides from protection from dust, they’re generally decribed as being “water-resistant” too.

IP codes explained
There is a subtle but important difference between an item being water resistant and water proof

But what does this actually mean?

Any device or case that is termed as water-resistant, is able to resist the penetration of water, to some degree but not entirely.

Water-repellent, means that the item is not easily penetrated by water. This can often be as a result of being treated for such a purpose with a surface coating.

Waterproof should mean that an item is completely impervious to water.

Taking the iPhone as an example, it will have some form of resistance to water. This is actually defined by the second digit of the IP rating. So, the IP67 waterproof rating for the IPhone means that it will be protected from temporary immersion in liquids between 15cm and 1m in depth.

In practice, any device with an IP67 rating could be submerged under water, a metre deep, for a maximum of 30 minutes.

It is important to note however that these tests were carried out under laboratory conditions. Crucially – the test conditions meant that actually, the IPhone was set to standby mode before and during the assessment.

In reality, this means that it probably isn’t going to be possible for you to take your new IPhone for a swim with you.

IP rated phones
Even the latest model of mobile phones come with an IP rating

08: Protective Cases and IP Ratings Explained

How this corresponds to waterproof equipment cases

When looking for a protective case, one of the considerations for your business  must be level of ingress protection required.

For example, it is particularly important if you are using expensive equipment that is sensitive to water or dust (in effect it does not have its own IP rating). This in turn means the IP rating of the items protective packaging or case is of critical importance.

Many of the branded cases you can source from GWP are certified to varying IP levels.

For example, Nanuk, Explorer, SKB, Storm Case™  and the widely used Peli™ Protector Cases all feature an IP rating of IP67.  Zarges Aluminium cases typically have an IP rating of IP54 (for the Eurobox and K470 range).

If however you need a custom size, then EXOCase™ (a dust and water resistant flight case) has in tests been shown to have an IP55 rating.

Waterproof protective cases
Waterproof protective cases that you can source through GWP will all have an IP rating

09: Applications and Industries

Where are IP rated cases used?

There are a number of industries and applications where using IP rated cases is critical.

For example, military communications equipment is often used in hot dusty environments, making protection from dust is important.

Specialist tools in the offshore and oil & gas industries are frequently stored in IP rated cases. In fact, any industry or job that requires employees to take tools or equipment on site (e.g. service engineers, surveyors etc.) can benefit from using water and dust proof cases.

However, the opposite is also true. IP rated cases are often used to keep moisture in. For example, Zarges cases are used to transport wet and muddy kit (being frequently used by professional sports teams).

Divers and related industries also use waterproof cases due to the need to transport wet kit without it leaking in to their vehicle / transport.

Dust proof cases
A huge range of markets and industries make use of IP rated water and dust proof cases

10: Who are IEC?

International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related components

The IEC are a non-profit and non-governmental international standards organisation. The IEC assemble and publish the International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related components.

Broken down, this covers a wide range of technologies. Their first publication, an international vocabulary to unify terminology relating to electrical technologies, was published in multiple languages in 1938.

Originating in London, the IEC moved to Geneva in 1948. This remains its current headquarters. They now have centres across various regions however, including Singapore, Brazil and Boston (USA).

Today, the IEC are regarded as the world’s leading international organisation in their field. The work creating these standards is undertaken by electrical experts, test laboratories, the government and academics.

The IEC also work closely with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (UTI).

For further information on the IEC please click here.

Alternative measure – NEMA

An alternative measure which you may come across, particularly on American sites or products, is the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

The NEMA determines standard ratings used in North America for classes of electrical enclosures.

A common NEMA enclosure may be rated on levels of protection against environmental hazards. These hazards include water and dust. Similar to the Ingress Protection ratings, they also cover oil, coolant and corrosive agents such as gasoline.

If you would like further information on the NEMA, please click here.

In Summary

IP ratings explained

IP ratings can have a large impact on your business. It can mean the difference between your products arriving undamaged on site. It can ensure your service engineers can get critical jobs completed on time. It can of course save your business thousands of pounds in not having to replace damaged equipment.

Should you need any further information with regards to IP ratings, and the protective cases and packaging products which can offer these levels of protection, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Further Reading...

About the Author

Richard Coombes

Richard Coombes

General Manager | GWP Protective

Having originally joined GWP Protective back in 2004, working on the factory floor, Richard now heads up the business as General Manager. [Read full bio…]

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