Waterproof—What Exactly Does It Mean?


Summer will soon be upon us. As temperatures rise, more and more customers will be spending time in and around lakes, rivers, the beach or perhaps just the pool. Now is the time to make sure that the latest and greatest water-ready products are at their disposal.

Many of these fun, summer-friendly SKUs bill themselves as “waterproof.” However, this designation raises a few questions—namely, how waterproof is “waterproof”? Can an item be fully submerged without damage to its component parts? Or is it more a matter of withstanding the occasional splash?

Let’s dive in!

The IP Code

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) sets standards for electronics and electrical equipment. Depending upon which source you consult, “IP” stands for either “International Protection” or “Ingress Protection.” Because words like “waterproof” alone are too vague for purposes of actual safety, products receive specific ratings based on the standardized global code.

IP ratings also measure protection against the intrusion of other foreign objects (think dust). But, for purposes of this blog, we’ll keep the focus on moisture. As an article on WebCite explains, “the pass-fail criteria involve water not being able to enter an area within the product such that it impedes product operation or safety.”

These ratings range from 0 to 8. The higher the number, the greater the protection. Each rating is preceded by “IP,” often followed by an “X,” which functions as a placeholder, or like a zero. So, for example, a waterproof rating of IPX1 means that the product is protected against vertical dripping water (but nothing more than that). On the other end of the spectrum, a rating of IPX8 means that the product can withstand continuous immersion.

Note that not all products carry IP ratings. However, if an item’s description implies the ability to continuously function several feet underwater, it is probably safe to view it as the equivalent of an IPX8.

Also note that IP ratings sometimes encompass protection from both solid foreign objects and water (in that order). For example, a rating of IP65 would mean a 6 for dust and a 5 for water.

Waterproof Products in Action

Bluetooth speakers with built-in water resistance give customers the chance to enjoy their favorite tunes or podcasts during their relaxing days at pool. For example, ION’s aptly named Plunge Waterproof Bluetooth Stereo Boombox features a waterproof rating of IPX7, which allows for temporary immersion. (The rating matters somewhat, because the word “submersible” can be used to describe both IPX7 and IPX8 items.)

Other great waterproof speakers come from manufacturers like iLive, jam and Pyle. And of course, there are also speakers for watery indoor settings, like Naxa’s Waterproof Bluetooth Shower Speaker.

Then there are the more unexpected SKUs, like the QuickSnap Marine Waterproof Single-Use Camera from FujiFilm. This item brings photographic fun to aquatic settings, allowing users to take pictures as deep as 17 feet underwater.

In fact, lots of everyday items have water-defying variations. There are waterproof spotlights, waterproof power cables, waterproof safes and more!

The Takeaway

A little knowledge about the technical meaning behind the term “waterproof” can give you an edge over other sellers.

Let Petra be your beacon as you ride the waves of commerce. For more great water-ready SKUs, feel free to browse our website!