What Does it Really Mean?
It’s summertime in the British Virgin Islands so that means a lot of us will be at the beach and on boats enjoying our beautiful waters. A day in the sun isn’t complete without our favorite music from Bluetooth speakers or capturing the moment on our phones and cameras. What better device to use around the water than a “waterproof” device right? A lot of the electronics we like to use are marketed as “waterproof” or “water-resistant”. What does it all really mean though?
If anyone ever tells you that a watch is waterproof, “issa lie”. No watch is truly waterproof, and in fact the International Organization for Standardization and Federal Trade Commission prohibit watches from being labeled as being "waterproof." While a watch may be able to withstand a certain degree of water exposure, there is always a limit to how much water pressure it can handle before it begins to leak. The term "waterproof" implies that a device will remain unscathed under even the most difficult of circumstances.
Not every phone is water-resistant and not all “waterproofing” is equal. Turns out, some waterproofing claims really describe resistance to splashes. It pays to know the differences -- and what the ratings mean for using your phone, tablet, activity tracker, smartwatch and even some wireless speakers.
Understand the Ratings
The Ingress Protection Rating, or International Protection Rating (IP) is the standard scale used to rate the degrees of protection of electrical equipment. IP codes are a standard set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). IP68 and IP67 are the most water-repellent, while IP54 should instill a healthy fear if you're taking photos in the hot tub or on a boat.
The first number in the rating code represents the degree of protection provided against the entry of foreign solid objects, such as fingers or dust. These protection levels range from 0 to 6. The second number represents the degree of protection against the entry of moisture, with protection levels ranging from 0 through 8. For example, the JAM “Double Chill” Bluetooth speakers, sold at our store in Road Town, are certified with an IP67 rating, which means that they are fully protected from dust (6) and can also withstand being submerged in 1m (about 3.3 feet) of static water for up to 30 mins (7). Have a look at the charts towards the end of this post for details of what each level means.
An IP code with an "X" in place of the first or second number means that a device hasn't been tested to protect against the entry of solid objects (the first number) or moisture (the second number). For example, the JBL PULSE 3 Bluetooth speakers, sold at our store in Road Town rated IPX7. That means it is protected from accidental submersion in 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes, but it has not been tested against the entry of dust.
Here are the charts that outline the protection levels:
What about Water Pressure?
To help regulate and explain water resistance in watches, the ISO has set standards that have been adopted by many traditional watchmakers. Most smartwatches and activity trackers, however, don't adhere to these standards and therefore aren't ISO-certified. While a watch may be able to withstand a certain degree of water exposure, there is always a limit to how much water pressure it can handle before it begins to leak. Pressure tests are measured in atmospheres (ATM). Each ATM is equivalent to 10 meters (33 feet) of static water pressure. Unfortunately, because there is no universal testing method, real-world usage is different for every device. Below you will find a chart that outlines that basic water-resistance levels.
It's always best to know exactly what your devices can handle. Whether it be for fun or security IP codes have become a vital tool for modern tech. The next time you visit Infinite Solutions ask us about our water-resistant products. What has been your experience with water-resistant tech?