Buying a Two Way Radio – but what IP rating do I need?

You’ve no doubt heard of IP. But in this case we’re talking ‘Ingress Protection’ rather than Internet Protocol. Many electrical devices have an IP rating. It’s basically about keeping things out of the equipment – things like water or body parts that could cause damage or harm to the device or result in injury. In the case of mobile radios, we are principally concerned about moisture and dust which could affect the performance of the radio and its long term reliability.

What does it mean?

An IP rating is most frequently signified by two digits after the IP designation. The first digit relates to protection against solids whilst the second is concerned with water. The higher the number, the more protection offered. Some typical examples for portable mobile radios could be:-

IP54: 5 equals ‘dust protected’ 4 equals ‘water splashing from any direction’

IP57: 5 equals ‘dust protected’ 7 equals ‘water tight for immersion in up to 1 metre (for 30 mins)’

IP66: 6 equals ‘dust tight’ 6 equals ‘water jets (12.5 mm nozzle) from any direction’

IP67: 6 equals ‘dust tight’ 7 equals ‘water tight for immersion in up to 1 metre (for 30 mins)’

N.B. If either digit is replaced by an ‘X’, the equipment is not rated in this regard. Eg a radio designated IPX7 has not been classified for solids protection but has for water to rating 7.

Why is this important?

Depending on the application the radio is to be used for, IP considerations may be an important factor. At its simplest, a radio which will be used in outdoor working environments are likely to perform better if they have resilience to rain; radios used in a dusty environment may perform better if they are dust tight. So if we were looking for a radio to use in an area where users frequently use jet washers, we would want a radio with good spray resistance; similarly, if we needed a radio for use in a very dusty environment, we would look for a radio that was dust tight. So a suitable radio for both these applications may have an IP66 rating.

What else should I know?

This is only the briefest of guides and information provided is in summary form. More details can be found from the International Electro Technical Commission (IEC60529), the body responsible for the standards. Wikipedia also has comprehensive information. IP ratings do not cover protection against corrosive materials such as acids.

And finally…

Not all radios have an IP rating, so don’t offer a classification for their Ingress Protection. If you’re looking for a radio or system for a specific application, please contact Pennine – we would be delighted to help.