So you keep seeing these IP codes that are supposed to mean something. IP ratings are telling how well the enclosure protects the insides. Some examples that we see frequently with flashlights are IPx6, IPx7, IPx8, IP68, etc… but these are used on most electronics including cell phones and watches.
Just to start, the top that is widely available is IP68. It is the most waterproof and solid proof (like dust).
If we were looking for a light that really cant break like the ones in our handgun light buying guide or the ones in our police light buying guide we would recommend you go for the most resistant you can.
Otherwise IPX6 or IPX7 on the ANSI FL1 is probably good enough.
IP stands for “Ingress Protection” and basically is the amount of protection that the device has against solids and liquids. This IP code is from the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). And this standard like other standards is an attempt to cut through some products marketing but giving a solid tested number on this trait.
First Digit – IP68
The first digit explains how well the enclosure protects against solid things like sand and dust with the numbers covering size of the solid.
First Digit IP# Meaning and How Test Is Performed
The first digit is many times an “X”. No data available, or it was not specifically tested.
Offers no protection against solids
Protects against things bigger than 50 mm or 2 inches. Think of this as maybe a chicken wire where big things like a hand or larger rock would not be able to fit through.
Protects against things bigger than 12.5 mm or 0.5 inches. This would cover most rocks but when you get into pebbles you will be missing some. Also this will most likely block fingers.
Protects against things bigger than 2.5 mm or 0.1 inches. This will block thicker wires and most pebbles.
Protects against things bigger than 1 mm or 0.04 inches. This will block most wires, medium and large bugs. Somebody would probably be able to slip a fingernail in.
Protects against dust. Protection in this sense means that dust will get in but probably not enough to stop the insides from working.
Highest ranking of Dust Tight. This has complete protection against dust. A test for this level must be run for up to 8 hours based on how much airflow.
Second Digit – IPX8
The second digit explains how well the enclosure protects against liquids. In most cases this is used for waterproofness
Second Digit IPX# Meaning and How Test Is Performed
No data available, or it was not specifically tested.
Protection from dripping water. The test for this is that while upright for 10 minutes with water falling at the rate of 1 mm per minute and with the object being rotated at 1 revolution per minute that the water will have no harmful effect.
Protection from dripping water when at 15 degrees. The test is that while at 15 degrees from upright (tested in 4 positions) for 2.5 minutes with water falling at the rate of 3 mm per minute there will be no harmful effect.
Protection from spraying water when at 60 degrees from upright. A spray nozzle spraying at a rate of 2.6 gallons per minute (10 liters per minute) with 7.2-21.7 PSI (50-150 kPa) for at least 5 minutes with 1 minute added per 10 square feet (1 square meter).
Protection from splashing water at any angle or direction. The test is the same as 3 but for atleast 10 minutes and at any direction.
Protection from water jets at any angle or direction. The test is a jet at 3.3 gallons per minute (12.5 liters per minute) with 4.3 PSI (30 kPa) at 10 feet (3 meters) for 1 minutes per 10 square feet (1 square meter) with minimum of 15 minutes for smaller items.
Protection from strong water jets at any angle or direction. The test is a jet at 26.4 gallons per minute (100 liters per minute) with 14.5 PSI (100 kPa) at 10 feet (3 meters) for 1 minute per 10 square feet (1 square meter) with a minimum of 3 minutes for smaller items.
Protection from water immersion up to 3.2 feet (1 meter) depth. This is an immersion test for 30 minutes and there will be no amount of water coming into the enclosure that could be harmful.
Protection from water immersion more than 3.2 feet (1 meter) as specified by manufacturer (usually 10 feet or 3 meters). This test is similar to 7 but is to be expected for continuous use and to be more than the standards for 7.
Protection from Powerful high temperature water jets for 30 seconds at 4 different angles.
Waterproof Flashlight Typical IP Ratings
We usually do not see all of the possibilities in flashlights but we see many. Most flashlights do not go through a solid protection test so this is typically at an X. Examples are as follows:
IPx4, IPx5, IPx6, IPx7, IPx8
If flashlights do go through a solid protection test what we typically see is:
IP54, IP55, IP56, IP57, IP58, IP66, IP67, IP68
What We Look For In IP Waterproof Rating
This is highly dependent on what you want to be doing with your flashlight. But, most of us want to at the least take the light outside and maybe for it to not break in the rain.
Most flashlight manufacturers do not test for ingress of solids so really unless we were going for a flashlight that was for a survival situation or a flashlight for a combat or military situation we would be okay with the first digit being an X. In the case of the situations above we would only go for IP67, IP68 or IP69.
For the second digit we really like IPX7 or IPX8 since we have accidentally dropped things in the toilet or hot tub before…
But, an IPX6 would most likely be okay for most situations.
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