Walkie-talkies are an essential communication tool across countless industries. From the decks of ships to the dust-filled environment of a construction site, walkie-talkies have to keep on working in the harshest conditions.
But just how do you know whether a walkie-talkie is robust enough to face these challenges? The answer lies in their IP rating. In essence, this rating tells you how resistant a two-way radio is to environmental elements.
This guide explains everything you need to know about IP ratings and how to use this information to choose the ideal walkie-talkie.
Understanding IP Ratings
The concept is simple, IP stands for “Ingress Protection”, and the rating represents an internationally agreed standard that determines how resistant a device is against environmental conditions.
This standard doesn’t just apply to walkie-talkies but to any electrical equipment. Any equipment that has been rated will have its IP rating clearly displayed. This is always in the format of – IPXX- Where the Xs represent a numeric digit.
We will cover the relevance of the digits in the next section, but a simple description is the first digit tells you the level of “solid protection” the radio offers. The second digit is the level of liquid protection afforded by the walkie-talkie.
Understanding the relevance of these digits is important when making an informed buying decision. So, let’s look at the meaning of them in some more detail.
Protection Against Solids
Let’s say you see a walkie-talkie with a rating of IP63. As noted, the first digit represents the level of resistance to solids like dust that the radio offers. In this case, a rating of 6 is the highest possible, with the scale for solid protection going from 0 to 6.
Below is a full description of what level of protection each number refers to:
|First IP Digit
|Level of Protection Provided (Solids)
|Is not rated
|Protection from the intrusion of solids 50mm in diameter or larger
|Protection from the intrusion of solids 12.5mm in diameter or larger
|Protection from the intrusion of solids 2.5mm in diameter or larger
|Protection from the intrusion of solids 1mm in diameter or larger
|Protected from dust particles, some may still enter, but not enough to affect performance
|Completely dust-tight, for this rating, no ingress of dust is permitted
Now that we understand what the first digit in an IP number means, let’s have a look at the second digit.
Protection Against Liquids
The second digit refers to the level of protection a walkie-talkie has against liquids. The liquid ratings range from 0 to 8, and the level of protection offered by each rating is described in the following table:
|Second IP Digit
|Resistant against vertically falling water droplets when in an upright position
|Resistant against falling water droplets up to a tilt angle of 15° from upright
|Resistant to gentle water sprays at angles of up to 60° from upright
|Can withstand up to 10 minutes of water splashes from any direction
|Can withstand low-pressure jets of water from any direction. To test this, devices are subject to a 4.4psi jet of water from 3 metres. They must withstand this for 3 minutes with a flow rate of 12.5 litres per minute.
|This rating can withstand more powerful jets. Testing involves a 3-minute spray of water at 15psi and a flow rate of 100 litres of water per minute.
|Can withstand total immersion in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of one metre.
|Can withstand prolonged immersion in water. Unusually, there is no exact specification of what this means, but testing is usually performed in 3 metres of water.
Choosing the Right IP Rating
Understanding IP ratings is one thing, but applying this knowledge to make the right choice for your specific needs is another. The ideal IP rating for your walkie-talkie depends on the environment in which it will be used.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind:
- Indoor or Outdoor Use: If you’re using your walkie-talkie indoors in a relatively clean environment, a lower IP rating may suffice. However, for outdoor use or in environments with a lot of dust or water, you’ll want a higher IP rating.
- Exposure to Water: If your walkie-talkie is likely to be exposed to water, pay close attention to the second digit in the IP rating. For instance, if you’re on a boat or at a rainy construction site, you might want a walkie-talkie with a rating of at least IPX7.
- Exposure to Dust or Other Particles: If you’re in a dusty environment, like a construction site or a desert, the first digit in the IP rating is crucial. An IP6X rating would be ideal in these situations as it offers the highest level of protection against dust.
- Balance Between Dust and Water Protection: In some cases, you might need a balance of protection against both dust and water. For instance, an IP54 rating might be sufficient for general outdoor use, providing adequate protection against dust and splashing water.
Remember, the highest IP rating doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for your situation. It’s about finding the right balance based on your specific needs and environment.
Let’s look at some examples of walkie-talkies and their IP Ratings.
IP Ratings: Real World Walkie-Talkie Examples
The last part of understanding IP ratings is to look at some real-world examples and the type of environment and use they are suited for:
- Motorola XT400 Series: The Motorola XT400 has an IP55 rating, a good solid rating that will protect it against most dust ingress and has reasonable liquid protection. A good choice for most dusty environments and all but the wettest conditions.
- Kenwood TK-3501 Kenwood 446 Portable: This radio has an IP rating of IP54. This makes the Kenwood TK-3501 perfect for all but the dustiest conditions and also offers reasonable liquid resistance.
- Kenwood PMR446: For less harsh environments, the Kenwood PMR446 offers a decent level of protection with an IP rating of IP32.
By understanding how the IP rating system works, it is easier to choose the right walkie-talkies for your working (or playing) environment.
Sealing the Deal: IP Ratings as Easy as 1,2,3
Making an informed decision about the right walkie-talkie for you is easier once you understand the IP rating system. However, if you still need assistance choosing the right walkie-talkie, then we can help.
At Walkie-Talkie Solutions, our experts have an in-depth knowledge of everything walkie-talkie related, so contact us today if you need any further advice on choosing the right walkie-talkie for any environment.