Water-Resistant vs Waterproof
When protecting our devices from water damage, terms like “water-resistant” and “waterproof” are often used interchangeably. However, these terms have different meanings and implications for the level of water protection they offer. You’ve come to the right place if you’ve ever wondered how water-resistant vs waterproof ratings differ. Short definitions of the reasonably broad subject that will be covered in more detail in the article are as follows:
- Water Resistant: The least amount of water protection a product can have is water resistance. The device may be constructed in a way that makes it difficult for water to enter, or it may have been coated with a light material that increases the device’s chance of surviving contact with water, according to the label. Many watches have water-resistance labels, indicating that they can withstand a light rain shower or hand washing.
- Water Repellent: Devices that repel water have the ability to, you guessed it, repel water, making them hydrophobic. These products have a good chance of having a thin-film nanotechnology coating, making them much more water-resistant than the typical “water-resistant” item. Although water repellent and water resistance are very similar in nature, they are not waterproof.
- Waterproof: Water should either not be able to enter the device or not have any negative effects from coming into contact with water. There isn’t currently a defined industry standard that a product must meet to qualify as waterproof. The Ingress Protection Rating scale, also known as the IP Code, is the closest thing we have to a waterproof rating; however, we will cover this topic in much more detail later on in the article. It can be summed up as a scale where devices are rated from 0 to 8 depending on how well they prevent water from entering them.
Water resistance and waterproofing actually accept manufacturer liability differently. A manufacturer is responsible for a replacement if something they label as “waterproof” leaks or breaks due to moisture. However, if the manufacturer uses the term “water resistant” and qualifies it with depths and times, they are limiting their liability even though they have made efforts to waterproof the product.
This could be the cause of the less frequent occurrence of “waterproof watches” compared to “water-resistant watches of up to 200 meters.” Most businesses avoid labeling products as waterproof because doing so typically conveys the idea that the condition is permanent and that the product will never fail due to water. In this article, we will go in-depth on waterproof ratings and what to watch out for when purchasing a water-friendly device. However, some businesses are willing to take that risk.
IPX Ratings Explained
As Bluetooth technology develops, more and more electronics are becoming mobile. Electronics and speakers that previously had to stay at home can now be brought along on an outdoor adventure. Although there has been a significant improvement in luxury and entertainment, consumers should be cautious about the level of weather resistance that their Bluetooth-enabled devices offer. It would be truly unfortunate if your new speaker were to unintentionally fall into the water and turn out not to be “waterproof.”
Manufacturers have included information in their product descriptions, such as waterproof, water-repellent, and water-resistant, to help us in our confusion. Customers may find these terms to be too ambiguous, but in actuality, they shield the manufacturer from liability. Consumers need not fear; you may have seen a tiny statement with the label “IPX7”; these values represent the actual level of protection against intrusions, and the following explanation will help you better understand it.
IP, also known as Ingress Protection or International Protection, is the universal standard used to evaluate how waterproof and solid objects are a device’s components. The letter “X” in IPX serves as a placeholder and is filled in with a numerical value based on how much water an item is able to withstand before malfunctioning. An explanation of a real-world illustration is as follows:
- A product will be identified as having an IPX7 rating if it has a water rating of 7.
- A product will be marked as IP67 if it has a dust rating of 6 and a water rating of 7.
- In extremely rare circumstances, if both the dust and water ratings are 4, for example, the rating will be shown as IP4.
The chart below shows the IPX0 to IPX8 range for liquid and moisture defenses for the purposes of the article about water resistance and waterproofing:
|IP Rating||Water Protection (liquids)|
|IPX0||The device is not waterproof or moisture-resistant.|
|IPX1||Water that drips onto the device vertically won’t damage it.|
|IPX2||When tilted at 15 degrees or less, the device is shielded from water that drips vertically.|
|IPX3||When tilted up to 60 degrees vertically, the device is shielded from water spray. The item will probably survive spring showers with this rating.|
|IPX4||Splashes and sprays from all angles won’t damage the device.|
|IPX5||The device is protected from projected water at low pressure coming from any direction (such as a nozzle or jet).|
|IPX6||Any angle of high pressure water sprays won’t damage the device.|
|IPX7||Given its complete waterproofness, the device can be submerged in water for 30 minutes at a 1-meter depth.|
|IPX8||The device is totally waterproof and can go under water up to one meter deep. On the product’s label, the manufacturer would specify the precise depth.|
A chart of IP ratings for different levels of solid particle protection is also included:
|IP Rating||Dust Protection (Solids)|
|IP0X||The system is unprotected from solids.|
|IP1X||The device is protected from objects larger than 50 mm, such as a hand.|
|IP2X||A finger, for example, or any other solid object longer than 12.5 mm won’t damage the device.|
|IP3X||A solid object larger than 2.5 mm in diameter, such as a screwdriver, won’t damage the device.|
|IP4X||The device is protected from solid objects larger than 1 mm in diameter, such as wire.|
|IP5X||The device has limited dust ingress protection. Equipment operation won’t be hampered by dust for up to two to eight hours.|
|IP6X||The device is dust-tight, preventing the entry of dust and preventing equipment interference for two to eight hours.|
It’s important to remember that different IPX ratings don’t always stack up against one another. For instance, just because a product is IPX6 certified doesn’t necessarily mean that it is also IPX 5 certified. The IPX6 rating only indicates that level 6 tests have been passed. For example, the packaging of IPX5/IPX6 should make two mentions if it has been tested for lower levels. When choosing your next purchase, there are still more factors to take into account. Although an IPX rating does offer protection, additional factors might be involved.
When evaporated, saltwater may react differently with your device than freshwater if you intend to use it in the ocean. Furthermore, you need to start considering the atmospheric pressure at deeper levels when completely submerging a device in water. More force will be applied to you and everything attached to you the deeper you dive into the water. Although most of us shouldn’t be discouraged by the pressure, it’s unlikely that you’ll bring your Bluetooth speaker with you into the Mariana Trench.
However, what if the gadget you’re about to purchase lacks an IP rating? You might assume the manufacturer is selling you a subpar item or one with no dust- or water resistance right away. Fortunately, it’s possible that some businesses will undergo a different certification or rating process.
Your product’s packaging may still bear the words “waterproof” or “water resistant,” and if it develops a water-related defect, you should receive a refund within the allotted warranty period. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to purchase “waterproof and water-resistant” items from reputable brands and merchants in order to ensure warranty exchanges and avoid disputes with third parties.
IPX and Speakers
The differences between the various parts used to put together your typical speaker system and those that can be used outside without worrying about water damage are not particularly significant. Crossovers, drivers, and housing, or the cabinet, are the three main components of every speaker in these categories. The materials used and related to the manufacturing process are where the distinctions start to emerge.
Indoor speakers typically have steel internal framing, while water-resistant or waterproof speakers use corrosion- and rust-resistant materials like aluminum, brass, and even stainless steel. Waterproof speakers will typically have a diaphragm made of materials like rubber or mylar, whereas household speakers typically only use paper. The diaphragm is the membrane inside your speaker that moves to produce sound.
Manufacturers will need to use sturdy materials like plastic covered in a polypropylene finish and sealed together with watertight Teflon or a comparable product to create a waterproof speaker case. Use sturdy waterproof components that are sealed away in a shell that is totally isolated from any outside contact if you want to keep your speaker’s waterproofing capabilities.
However, how do waterproof and water-resistant speakers sound? What you intend to purchase and how you intend to use the speaker will determine the solution. If you don’t mind spending more money, you probably won’t notice any difference at all if you buy a top-of-the-line speaker made of high-quality materials. That’s because the construction of indoor and outdoor water-ready speakers uses a very similar manufacturing process. However, for the majority of us, this isn’t the case, and we all want to make some financial savings.
Be prepared for less-than-impressive audio quality and the possibility that the device isn’t as “waterproof” as it seems if you choose a low-end, less expensive model. Additionally, the majority of waterproof speakers connect to your audio source via Bluetooth, and sound deterioration over long distances continues to be a problem for the entire industry.
However, some manufacturers have chosen to make up for this by using digital solutions like aptX, a compression method that works to prevent data loss over wireless signals. These issues shouldn’t stop you from purchasing a waterproof speaker because they still compete with interior speakers, which may put sound quality first and durability second.
Consider a product that is made of sturdy materials, has a current Bluetooth version, and provides enough sound for precisely what you intend it to do when you decide to take the plunge and purchase a waterproof speaker. When all you need is a large speaker to play classical music while you take a morning shower, there is really no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on one.
Which Do You Need?
You’ve probably been wondering this entire article: Do you need your speakers to be waterproof? The answer to this question determines whether something is water-resistant or waterproof. Despite the apparent simplicity of this question, there is no conclusive response available online or elsewhere. It is entirely up to you whether or not you want speakers and other electronics that are waterproof or water-resistant.
You would do much better with your time if you spent it looking for a speaker with the longest battery life since you almost certainly won’t be charging it in the shower. But since most speakers are rarely fully submerged in water, waterproofing is typically not required. Most likely, your device will be in a corner, picking up a few drops of water as visitors pass by, or to the side of your shower, never fully exposed to the showerhead.
As a result, products that are water resistant are usually fine for people who don’t want to swim with their electronics. Customers who insist on purchasing waterproof products are likely adopting the maxim “better safe than sorry.” That’s fine too, and their devices will be better water-resistant, but this choice should take into account the likelihood that their product will be fully submerged. If you’d like to save some money, be sure of what you want the device to do and the likely water risks involved. The price differences between a water-resistant vs waterproof speaker can be dramatically diagonal.
So What’s The Best IP Rating?
We typically favor Bluetooth speakers that are portable that have an IP67 rating. This is, of course, a combination of IP6X and IPX7, allowing the speaker to withstand submersion as well as extended exposure to solid particles. A device with an IP67 rating can practically be said to be “everything-proof.”
The development of waterproof and water-resistant speakers is exciting today. It opens up more opportunities for fun, like playing your favorite music in the shower or lighting up an entire pool party. When selecting a device, consumers should always be wary of labels like “water resistant” and “waterproof” and understand their key distinctions. ‘Waterproof’ is impervious to water, whereas ‘water resistance’ is only partially capable of resisting the penetration of water. At your next party, you won’t have to worry about accidentally dropping your “water resistant” speaker into the pool and expecting the music to keep playing thanks to these levels of protection.
A device’s water protection is indicated by the global standard known as IPX, or Ingress Protection, which is also printed on products. From IPX0, the least protective form, which offers no protection, to IPX8, which is totally submersible in water. Nothing should prevent you from choosing a speaker that best suits your budget for those warm pool days, even though we might not have the technology completely perfected and different prices apply limitations.