IPX8 Rating Explained: What it Really Means
Have you ever wondered what the little IP letters and the numbers following it represent on your electronic device’s package?
Maybe, like me, you have found yourself trying to choose between earbud brands and noticed these same little figures as selling points in your local store.
The question is, does an IPX8 rating mean a device is waterproof?
An IPX8 rated device is waterproof against submersion for 30+ minutes, but can be vulnerable when sprayed at high pressures. An IPX device hasn’t been tested against dust, but has been tested against types of water interaction. IP ratings refer to tests that a device passes during manufacturing to see how resistant it is to solids like dust and liquid substances like water.
In this article, we’ll go over what an IP rating is, as well as the differences between IPX ratings and how useful an IPX8-rated device may be!
What Is An IP Rating?
The letters “IP” in the term “IP Rating” stands for “Ingress Protection Rating”. This name was given to the rating system by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which is the organization responsible for making electrical appliances safer for people to use in a diverse array of conditions.
Ultimately, an IP rating’s whole purpose is to tell you how resistant your electrical device is when exposed to the elements. These elements are most often thought of as water.
But, the IP rating tells you not only what the device’s resistance to liquids like sweat and rainfall are, it can also apply to things like dust or debris that get into your device.
Wondering how you know what an item’s IP rating actually is? Don’t worry; we have the answer! Most IP ratings can be discovered on the package of an item or on the webpage of the product. Look for the “IP” letters, which will usually come with two numbers or an X and a number.
The first digit listed in the device’s IP rating ranges from 1 to 6 and refers to how resistant a device is to exposure to solids.
If instead of the first digit, you see an X, this doesn’t mean that the device is not dust protected. All it means that this particular device has not been tested for dust penetration.
The second digit, on the other hand, has to do with how defensible the device is against liquids and is indicated by a number between 1 and 8. In both cases, the higher the number is, the more durable your device is against these elements!
If you can’t find an IP listing at all, either on the product, the product’s packaging or the product’s webpage, most likely this device has never been tested for resistance to dust, water or any other harmful element.
This means that you should exercise caution when using a device like a set of earbuds that do not have any IP rating and assume they can’t handle exposure to liquids and solids.
What Does IPX8 Stand For?
You may be hunting for the IP rating on the package of your most recent purchase and find that although it does have one, the first digit, which is supposed to represent the item’s resistance to solid substances, is replaced by an “X” instead of a number.
This might seem baffling at first, especially when you were expecting to see the 1 through 6 rating number!
However, as mentioned above, an IPX rating actually means that the device has not been tested for its resistance to solid substances.
So, what you’ll normally find in the case of IPX ratings is that, while they’re hit-or-miss when it comes to dirt and dust, they’re more likely to be liquid resistant!
IPX8 is the highest variant of the IPX ratings in audio products. This is because an IPX8 rating is as waterproof as any electric device can get.
According to studies done by CNET.com, an IPX8 rating for a device means that, during testing, the device was subjected to being placed underwater for longer than half an hour.
Typically, IPX8-rated devices can withstand these tests because they are hermetically sealed. Hermetic sealing means that the device is airtight. So, if Oxygen and other gases are kept out by the seal, water doesn’t stand much chance of penetrating it!
The Importance of Immersion Testing and IP Ratings
Immersion testing and the resulting IP ratings are significant for protection of our assets as well as our health. A damaged electronic device, for example, can cause irritation or even electrocution in extreme cases.
Not only does the immersion testing and resulting IP rating help us, as consumers, to pick out the safest and most secure product; it also helps the manufacturers.
Manufacturing companies know that devices that hold a high IP or even IPX rating are more likely to sell, so they subject their products to immersion testing as a marketing point!
Therefore, the scientific process in which a device is tested in immersion in fluids or solids is incredibly important.
What Is The Difference Between IPX8 And IP68?
As you may recall from what was stated above, the highest most-resistant rating for solids penetration an IP tested object can have is indicated by the number 6.
If you see an AirPod, mobile phone or any other device with a 6 following the IP, as is the case with IP68, it means that the device is very resistant to both water and dust.
However, if you find a device that is listed to have an IPX8 rating, you may also recall that this means the device never went through a solid substance testing process.
That being the case, it is still considered to be waterproof and most likely will resist dust. However, it was never tested to confirm this.
Both ratings, at a level 8, can be kept in about a meter of water, fully submerged for 30 minutes, without sustaining damage. Actually, you could take any of these devices with you into a shower or even swimming, as long as you don’t deep-dive!
In terms of which is better to purchase all-around, you should probably go for the device that has an IP68 rating because it’s been tested and confirmed to not only withstand water submersion, but some pretty heavy particle interaction, too.
The Difference Between IPX6, IPX7, and IPX8
The three highest IPX ratings that a device can hold are IPX6, IPX7 and IPX8. These are highly sought-after ratings, both by the buyers of these products and the manufacturers.
However, if you’re looking to purchase a favorite electronic, you may be wondering, what is the difference between IPX6, IPX7, and IPX8 ratings?
We’ll break it down in the list below!
- IPX6 Rating – A device that receives an IPX6 level of rating is not tested for resistance to solids, but instead is sprayed with a water jet from a nozzle at around 9.8 feet of distance for 1 minute. Usually, the water pressure is at 15psi. This means that an IPX6 device can handle being splashed heavily or even sprayed in real-life scenarios.
- IPX7 Rating – An electronic device with an IPX7 rating is tested for waterproof capabilities on a very similar level to the IPX8. It is submerged in water for at least thirty minutes in a depth of no more than one meter. After this test, the device should still work as intended!
- IPX8 Rating – Products with an IPX8 rating undergo similar to IPX7 rating tests. They are also submerged into water for a period of time. However, there is no specified industry standard for how deep and how long. Instead, the conditions of the test differ from manufacturer to manufacturer and have to be specified by the individual manufacturer along the rating. For instance, one manufacturer will submerge their product three meters deep for one hour, another would submerge theirs 10 meters deep for three hours.
As you can see, in terms of durability, the best device to purchase all-around will have the highest liquid resistance, which is found in the IPX8 rating. However, if you want to purchase a product that is IPX6 or IPX7, don’t worry; each of these still offers some level of protection against liquid penetration!
Which IPX Rating Is Best?
IPX8 is the best of the IPX ratings. The reason it is the best is that it means the device has been tested in a depth of water exceeding 1 meter for a term of more than 30 minutes. As the number of an IPX rating lowers, so does its resistance to water.
Are Products That Don’t Have An IPX Rating Bad?
Products that don’t have an IPX rating can still be good. All this means is the product may not be protected from water.
There are also products that have an IP rating too. These have protection from dust and water to certain levels, depending on their rating.
So, it comes down to what the product was designed for, whether it would have an IPX rating or not. For instance, home theater speakers wouldn’t have an IPX rating.
If you’re purchasing a product that does not feature either an IP or IPX rating, you will have to assume that it was not tested for any kind of exposure to the elements.
This does not always have to be a bad thing. After all, some devices, like a wireless mouse or a television, may never come into contact with liquid. Therefore, you would not necessarily need a device that has an IP rating.
However, the truth is that accidents do happen. Even the most careful electronic owner can accidentally spill or splash something onto their device, and dust is an ever-present threat even in the cleanest of homes.
So, all in all, it is safest to purchase a device that at least has an IPX rating, if not a full IP rating with both finishing digits represented by numbers.
To sum up, IPX8-rated devices are not tested for resistance to dust particles or high-pressure jets of water. They are submerged for over thirty minutes at a depth of over 1 meter to be considered waterproof!
The depth and time can vary though as we mentioned earlier as the manufacturer sets it. So, an IPX8 product will at the very least be fine in water of just over 1 meter for a minimum of thirty minutes.
But always check the specifications of the product as it should tell you the specific time and depth.
Lastly, all IP ratings refer to devices that have been tested for resistance to elements, although some are more resistant than others.
And that’s an IPX8 rating and how it works, if you were wondering.