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What is an IP Rating? Understanding Weatherproof Ratings on Security Cameras

An IP rating, or ‘ingress protection’ rating, is an international standard used to indicate how resistant a product is to both solids and water. 

Anyone that’s been on the lookout for a security camera for outdoors will have seen IP ratings thrown around to advertise weatherproofing, but there’s more to it than just a random string of letters and numbers. 

An IP rating expresses specific information about how resistant the device is to solid foreign objects and water determined through testing.

Find out below what an IP rating is, what the numbers indicate, and what ratings should be prioritized for outdoor security cameras.

What is ‘Ingress’?

‘Ingress’ is the capacity for something to ‘go in’ or enter something else. 

An ingress rating is how protected a product is from having solids or water enter into it. So, an IP rating represents a product’s ability to resist ingress; the first number represents solids (dust, dirt, insects), while the second number represents water.

An IP rating is expressed as ‘IPXY’, X being a number from 0 to 6, and Y being a number from 0 to 9.

It’s common to come across products with IP ratings with only one number given, like ‘IPX7’. This would mean that there is no ingress protection against solids at all, but there is decent ingress protection against water. 

In fact, 7 would mean the product is protected from immersion between 15 cm to 1 m in depth. Yes, the numbers do in fact represent specific promises to the consumer. What are they?

How Protected is My Security Camera from Dust and Solids?

Ingress protection against solids are ranked from 0 to 6. It is the first of the two numbers listed in the rating. See what each number means below.

IP Rating – Solid Foreign Objects (e.g. dust, debris)

0No protection against solid foreign objects
1Protection against solid foreign objects of 50mm in diameter or more
2Protection against solid foreign objects of 12.5mm in diameter or more
3Protection against solid foreign objects of 2.5mm in diameter or more
4Protection against solid foreign objects of 1mm in diameter or more

An IP rating of 0 for solid foreign objects is sometimes just represented as an X instead of a 0, but it means the same thing—the security camera is not protected against the ingress of solid foreign objects.

That doesn’t, however, mean that the security camera is going to be completely unusable due to dust and debris swamping the inside of it. The product may just not have been tested for that type of ingress protection, so the X can indicate a ‘missing’ test.

Ingress protection against solids may not seem especially important to most consumers. This is understandable, because hunting for a decent security camera for outdoor monitoring brings to mind waterproofing, not the need for protection against solid things. 

In reality, burglars are far from the only threat to homes and other buildings. Minimizing fire hazards is extremely important.

Is My Security Camera Waterproof?

Ingress protection against water is ranked from 0 to 9. It is the second of the two numbers listed in an IP rating. Learn what the numbers mean below.

IP Rating – Water

0No protection against water
1Protection against water drops that fall vertically
2Protection against water drops that fall vertically even when the enclosure is titled up to 15 degrees
3Protection against water sprayed up to an angle of 60 degrees vertically
4Protection against splashing water from any direction (tested for 10 minutes)
5Protection against low-pressure water jets from any direction
6Protection against high-pressure water jets from any direction
7Protection against temporary water immersion of 15 cm to 1 m
8Protection against continuous water immersion
9Protection against high pressure, high temperature water jets from any direction

It’s important to note the reference to water, not liquids. So if the kids are especially prone to dumping apple juice all over electronic devices, don’t say we didn’t warn you when the warranty falls through!

As with solids, it’s not uncommon to see 0 represented as an X instead. Likewise, this can also indicate a lack of testing. 9 is also sometimes represented as K. 

The numbers in the ranking can be understood as being an indication of the ‘severity’ of exposure to water, from least severe to most severe. A product with a water ingress protection rating of 1 or 2 might be fine in very light rain with no wind, but a product with a rating of 5 or above will be more than capable of withstanding torrential rain blowing in from all directions.

That’s why it’s crucial to only use security cameras with a water ingress rating of 5 or above for outdoor use. Though a device with a ranking of 1 to 4 would, realistically, work just fine in most cases, it can’t be said to be completely ‘waterproof’ in the same way a camera with a ranking of 5 to 9 is.

What IP Rating Should My Security Camera Have? 

All security cameras being used outdoors should have a high degree of protection against solid foreign objects for the sake of usability and safety. It’s rare to come across a reputable security camera that isn’t completely dust tight.

The absence of a rating doesn’t necessarily mean that it is dangerous to use the product, but it does mean that it might not have been tested adequately to confirm what degree of ingress protection it has.

As for water protection, a rating of 5 or higher is perfect for outdoor use. Even if it seems excessive in warmer climes, a neighbor accidentally hosing down the garden security camera when watering their flowers is comparable to a low-pressure water jet. 

Having reviewed and ranked dozens of security cameras, I’d hazard a confident guess that most devices designed for outdoor use have an IP rating of either IP65 or IP67, meaning that they are dust-proof and water resistant. 

It’s unusual for a consumer security camera to have the max IP rating of 9 for protection against water. Unless the device is to be used in a warehouse with high powered jets, it really isn’t all that necessary, either. 

On the other hand, it’s common for outdoor security cameras to have the max IP rating of 6 for protection against solid foreign objects, reflecting its importance in reducing safety issues caused by dust, debris, and creepy crawlies.