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IP65 vs IP44: Which level of protection do I need?

Have you ever wondered what those “IP” ratings like IP44, IP65, or IP67 mean when you see them in LED display product descriptions? Or perhaps you’ve heard about IP waterproof ratings in advertisements? In this article, I’ll unravel the mysteries behind IP protection ratings and provide you with comprehensive information.

What is an IP Rating? In a nutshell

Simply put, an IP (Ingress Protection) rating is a numerical value assigned to electronic products, such as LED modules or LED cabinets, indicating their resistance to solids and liquids.

Ingress Protection Ratings
Ingress Protection Ratings

An IP Rating Consists of Two Numbers

When we talk about IP44, IP65, and so on, it’s not just a single value. Instead, it combines two numerical values representing resistance to solids and liquids.

In other words, when we mention “IP” followed by two numbers, it indicates the device’s ability to withstand both solids and liquids. So, can we separately represent resistance to solids or liquids?

Unfortunately, despite extensive research, I couldn’t find any documentation allowing separate representations for solids or liquids. Therefore, “IP” followed by two numbers is a fixed standard, and they generally cannot be separated, as doing so would lead to confusion.

However, I found instructions on 3 or 4 composition forms in the 1976 “International Electrotechnical Commission (affiliated to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)) IEC Standard”.

This means that after the IP digits, you can add one or two letters to represent additional protection conditions. Let’s first discuss what the numbers mean, then I’ll explain the meanings of the letters.

What does the IP44, IP65 rating means?

In IP44, the first number “4” indicates protection against solids larger than 1mm entering the device, while the second number “4” indicates protection against splashing liquids from any direction.


In IP65, the first number “6” means the product can fully prevent solids from entering the device, while the second number “5” indicates protection against water jets.


IP44 vs IP65: Which is Better?

From the meanings above, we can see that IP65 offers stronger protection than IP44. However, achieving stronger protection entails higher costs, which would ultimately be passed on to customers. Therefore, products labeled with IP65 will always be significantly more expensive than those labeled with IP44, even if they are identical.

IP44 VS IP65

If we are using the display indoors and do not require high levels of water and dust protection, IP44 is sufficient. Protection at this level is adequate for various indoor scenarios, and there’s no need to spend more on higher protection (like IP65). The money saved could be better spent elsewhere.

Does a Higher IP Rating Mean Better Protection?

Here is a misunderstanding that people often fall into:

IP68 is more protective than IP65.

This misconception leads to higher prices for products with higher IP ratings. But is it true?

In reality, it’s false. While IP68 may seem several levels higher than IP65, IP ratings beyond “6” are individually defined. This means IP68 isn’t necessarily better at waterproofing than IP67, nor does it offer better protection than IP65.

For example, a mobile phone that passes IP68 may not pass the IP65 test. For example, the Apple mobile phone we are familiar with has been punished many times for excessive marketing of waterproof information in advertisements. Because the advertisement claims that it can be used under several meters of water, but the reality is that once water enters, it not only loses the warranty, but even cannot start the phone at all.

Apple's Waterproof Phone AD
Apple’s Waterproof Phone AD

How to Label Products That Meet Both IP65 and IP68?

If a phone passes both IP65 and IP68 tests, should it be labeled IP65 or IP68? Neither. If a product passes both tests, it must be labeled with both ratings. For example, Sony’s Xperia 1 II is labeled as “Water Resistant (IP65/68)”.

Sony's Xperia 1 II Specifications
Sony’s Xperia 1 II Specifications

What Do the Letters After the IP Number Mean?

We have finished introducing the relationship between IP and numbers, and I believe you have a better understanding of this aspect. The letters after the numbers actually further supplement other protection conditions besides solids and liquids. We can look at the table below.

Additional letters may be added to the standard to indicate possible contact with hazardous substances in the human environment:

LevelEffective against
C2.5mm diameter tool
D1mm diameter wire

Indicates the protection information of the device

FOil resistant
HHigh voltage apparatus
MMotion during water test
SStationary during water test
WWeather conditions

Which Protection Rating Do I Need?

After reviewing all the information, do you know how to choose? If you’re still unsure, don’t worry, here’s a summary:

  1. For indoor use, you can purchase products with lower protection ratings, such as IP43 or IP44, which will save you money.
  2. For outdoor use, choose products with different protection ratings based on the outdoor environment. For common outdoor scenarios, IP65 is suitable. But if you need the device to work underwater (e.g., underwater photography), prioritize products with IP68.
  3. Protection ratings beyond “6” are individually defined. If the price of an IP65 product is lower than that of an IP67 product in the same category, you can opt for the cheaper IP65 product.
  4. Don’t rely too much on the protection ratings stated by manufacturers. These ratings are industry standards, not mandatory. Some unscrupulous manufacturers may arbitrarily label their products.
  5. For products that pass IP65, IP66, IP67, or IP68 tests, if they pass two tests, both ratings must be indicated. If they pass three tests, all three ratings must be indicated.

This comprehensive guide should help you navigate the world of IP protection ratings with confidence.

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