When you hear the letters “IP“, most people probably think of Internet Protocol, Intellectual Property, or maybe even Innings Pitched. Here, we are going to be referring to Ingress Protection, or how well an electrical enclosure can protect from the penetration of dust and moisture. Even if you have never heard the term before, you have most certainly thought about ingress protection at some time. Have you ever spilled water on your phone, tablet, or laptop? That instant panic (and possible profanities) is caused by your lack of trust in the ability of your device to keep out moisture.
Most new cellphones are marketed as waterproof or water-resistant. What do those terms mean? Are they marketing buzzwords, or are they meant to be taken at face value? This video by CNBC does a good job explaining them. I have personally taken the term waterproof too literally myself. On my oldest daughter’s 1st birthday, we took her swimming and I wanted to document as much as I could with my “waterproof” phone. We had a great time, but the documentation did not go as planned. In fact, I learned a new notification that day. A water droplet icon meant that moisture had made its way into my phone, and it was no longer functioning properly.
How did these standards come to be? In 1976, the International Electrotechnical Commission, or IEC, published IEC 60529, with the goal of standardizing the requirements regarding protection by enclosures. Prior to that time, there were separate standards for motors and low-voltage switchgear and controlgear.
The IP rating consists of two digits:
- The first rates protection against solid objects and works on a scale of 0-6.
- The second rates protection against liquids and works on a scale of 0-9.
The guide below lists details of what level of protection each number represents.
Outdoor displays should have a rating of no less than IP55, to be reasonably safe from both dust and water. Using the above guide tells us that the first numeral of 5 means that the enclosure is considered “dust-protected”. Since we are fully in pollen season in much of the country, strong protection against solid foreign objects is necessary. A first numeral rating of 4 would not supply the necessary protection against pollen grains as they are smaller than the 1.0mm size listed in the description. The second numeral of 5 means that the device is “protected against water jets”. Who is going to be blasting an outdoor display with water jets? Well, a landscaping sprinkler system or someone using a hose are both water jets you would want to be safe from.
Outdoor installations have progressed from your run-of-the-mill bank clocks with time and temperature to complex direct view LED displays that are truly immersive. Keeping the viewer immersed, and not the hardware, is a key to the success and longevity of any outdoor AV project. When your electronics are exposed to the elements, you will always have some degree of risk involved. Using the IP ratings, along with the manufacturer’s suggested usage and accessories, will allow you to minimize risk for your projects and customers. Be certain to read the warranty as well to ensure you are not doing anything that might void or shorten your warranty period.
Outdoor displays can range from a standard TV in an enclosure designed to be outdoors, all the way up to massive dvLEDs that you might see in Las Vegas or Times Square. Whatever your needs, Exertis Almo can provide solutions that run the gamut, including multiple dvLED vendors. The Samsung Terrace Series (consumer) provides options for outdoor displays, a soundbar offering, as well as accessories that can help protect and prolong the life of the hardware. These have become quite popular in commercial settings such as bars, restaurants, hotels, and even corporate patio areas.
Visit ExertisAlmo.com today to learn more about our outdoor displays and other products.
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