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Trenton, Safety Manager & Field Accountant

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What Is An IP Rating and Why Does It Matter For GPS?

IP stands for either Ingress Protection Rating or International Protection Rating. It is a unified standard to show how well electrical enclosures block liquid or dust from entering.

This rating is expressed via IP followed by two digits. The first of the two digits is the enclosure's effectiveness against solids, such as dust. It ranges from X (no rating) to 6 (dust-tight). We can look at the chart below showing all the first-digit ratings and their meaning.

IP rating table

The second digit in the rating refers to liquids. It has a broader scale, going from X (untested) to 9 (protected against close-range high-pressure spray). The chart below explains the scale in much greater detail than I will here.

IP rating table2

Depending on the scale and the enclosure being tested, there may be an additional letter at the end of the rating. This is used to show any supplemental resistance the enclosure may have.

IP rating GPS

These provide additional data that cannot be shown via the standard rating conventions.

So what do these mean for equipment GPS tracking?

IP ratings provide flexibility in where you can place any GPS tracker. If you are running equipment with no enclosed area suitable for installation, a device with high levels of resistance to the elements is needed.

Let’s take, for example, our weatherproof asset tracker. The clue is in the name of this unit. It is a weatherproof device with an IP67 rating. What exactly does that IP67 rating mean?

If we look at the charts, we can be safe knowing that the tracker is fully proof against the ingress of solids. The 6 in the rating indicates the highest level of protection measured.

The second digit, 7, lets us know that this tracker is protected from full submersion in 3.3 feet of water or 10+ minutes. This also assures us that things like splashes, rain, and running water stand no chance of affecting the electronics in the device.

This is a big deal. This tracker can be out in the elements, no matter the conditions. Mud, rain, sleet, and snow are not something you need to be concerned about when using it. The fewer things that can negatively impact a deployment, the better.

What IP rating should I look for?

I think having an IP rating of at least 64 is recommended. This will ensure dirt and mud will not be able to ingress the enclosure, and it will be splashproof. That is the minimum for an IP-rated device. On the high side, IP67 represents the top of the scale for most readily available electronics, being effectively dirt and waterproof. This assurance means it can be deployed in the most difficult conditions and remain effective.

What about devices with no IP rating?

Getting a device IP certified is a costly thing. A manufacturer may decide that the investment is not worth it for a particular device, depending on its intended application. If a device is not designed to be used in harsh environments, it is often unnecessary to go through the certification process. The absence of an IP rating does not mean a device does not meet the standard, just that it has not been tested.

Real-world application: IP ratings & trackers

Finding the right tracker is really a case of identifying the exact need. A higher IP rating will be needed if the trackers are deployed in harsh conditions. If not, then it is something that can be scaled back to an extent. Knowing a tracker's capabilities is the most important, as is deploying them in conditions they can handle.

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