Thanks to Bluetooth technology, more and more devices are becoming mobile and can support us in all our outdoor activities. Thus, speakers, which previously had to stay quietly at home, can now be taken to the beach, the pool, camping, even the shower… Listening to music is nowadays a lot of fun!
Although this represents an undeniable progress, it forces consumers to be very careful about the degree of protection of their Bluetooth device against intrusions, especially water intrusions. Indeed, it would be unfortunate to damage our precious device by accidentally dropping it into the pool if it is not protected!
Of course, manufacturers have put some informations on their devices: waterproof, splashproof, water-resistant… The problem is that these mentions can sometimes be confusing for the buyer. Indeed, these are just vague appellations put there for commercial reasons.
On the other hand, you have probably already noticed mentions such as “IPX7” or “IP69”. These statements indicate the actual degree of protection against intrusions.
The International Protection Marking
The IP code (International Protection Marking, sometimes called Ingress Protection Marking) is an international standard of the International Electrotechnical Commission published for the first time in 1989. It is adopted by the European standard EN 605293.
This index classifies the level of protection offered by a material against intrusions of solid and liquid bodies.
The format of the index, given by the IEC 60529 standard, is IP XX where the characters XX are two digits and / or one letter.
What Is the Form of an IP Rating?
The first digit indicates the degree of protection against the intrusion of solid materials into the device. If the device does not offer protection against solid particles, a “0” will be indicated. If the intrusion resistance of solid particles has not been tested, an “X” will be indicated (e. g. IPX7). This will often be the case with Bluetooth speakers, especially shower speakers.
There are 6 levels of protection against the intrusion of solid particles. It is only from level 6 that the device can be considered fully protected against these particles (the term “dustproof” is generally used). On the lower levels, the device is not fully protected, but from level 5 onwards, the protection is sufficient for outdoor use.
The second digit indicates the protection of the device against water intrusion (and only water). There are 9 levels of protection (see the table below for details of each level). If the device has not been tested for water resistance, the number will be replaced by an “X” (note that this is very rarely the case).
A third symbol can also be found. This is a letter (H, S, F, M or W) indicating the test conditions of the device:
- H: the device has been subjected to a high voltage
- S: the device remained upright during the tests
- F: the device is oil-resistant
- M: the device was in motion during the test
- W: the letter indicates the weather conditions
|1||Protected against the fall of vertical drops of water during 1 minute (1mm of water per minute).|
|2||Protected against drops of water up to 15° from the vertical (3mm of water per minute). The device is tested 4 times.|
|3||Protected against falling water up to 60° from the vertical. The water is sprayed using a nozzle with a conterbalanced shield. The pressure is 50-150kPa and the amount of water sprayed is 50 liters during 5 minutes.|
|4||Protected against splashing water from all directions. The same nozzle can be used but the shield must be removed.|
|5||Protected against jets of water from all directions (nozzle: 6.3 mm, distance: 2.5 m to 3 m, flow: 12.5 l / min ± 5%). Test duration: 15 minutes.|
|6||Protected against strong jets of water from all directions (nozzle: 12.5 mm, distance: 2.5 m to 3 m, flow: 100 l / min ± 5%). Test duration: 3 minutes.|
|7||Protected against the effects of temporary immersion (up to 1 m) and for 30 minutes. The device is said to be waterproof.|
|8||Submersible equipment under conditions specified by the manufacturer (prolonged immersion) beyond 1 m (usually 3m).|
|9||Submersible equipment under conditions specified by the manufacturer (extended immersion) beyond 1 m and Protection against high pressure cleaning.|
|9K||Protection against high pressure (8-10MPa), high temperature (80°C-176°F) cleaning from multiple directions at a close distance (0.1-0.15m). Volume of the sprayed water: 14-16l/minute.|
Common IP Ratings for Bluetooth Speakers
Most Bluetooth speakers have a protection ranging from IPX4 to IPX7. For some models, an IPX8 certification can be found. IPX9 certification is not found in audio equipment and is reserved for professional equipment.
Splashproof or Waterproof?
In summary, it can be said that a device is splashproof from the protection index 4 and waterproof from the protection index 5. From the index 7, the device can be completely immersed in water, and from the index 9, it resists high pressure cleaning.
Good Things to Know About IP Ratings
Warning: if a product is certified IPX7 for example, this does not mean that it is also certified at a lower level (IPX4 or IPX5 for example). It just means that it passed the tests for level 7. It should also have been tested for lower levels. In this case, there is a double mention (IPX7/IPX8 for example).
Also be wary of the way the certification is presented. For example, if you see a hyphen between “IP” and the number, it may simply be an error, but also a false or invalid certificate. If in doubt, choose another manufacturer or check carefully before making your purchase.