Have you ever seen “IP55” or something similar written on the specs of a mobile or handheld radio? Do you know what it means?
“IP” stands for “Ingress Protection” and is a standard promulgated by the International Electrotechnical Commission. It allows you to quantify somewhat nebulous marketing terms like “waterproof,” “water resistant,” “dust resistant,” etc.
The chart above shows how to easily read an IP rating code. The first number denotes the protection against solid objects (think a finger, paperclip through a ventilation hole, or even dust). The second number denotes the liquid protection which can include direct sprays under pressure or even total immersion.
One of the more common ratings we see in portable radios is “IP55” which means that it’s protected against “dust…” and “low pressure jets of water….” Some models like the Wouxun KG-UV3D, KG-UV6D, and KG-UV8D all claim this rating. Other models such as the new AnyTone Tech TERMN-8R claim an “IP53” rating which provides equal dust protection but slightly less water protection. For other radios it’s hard to find an IP rating at all. For example, the Baofeng UV-5R is listed as “IP54” on some Chinese websites but the reliability of that is unknown.
Some uses such as firefighting or military require higher standards because of more extreme environments. For example, Kenwood and Motorola both offer fully submersible models with a rating of “IP67” (dust-tight and immersion to 1m). Ed at Import Communications just announced an upcoming release of the Anytone AT-3140UV which also claims a rating of “IP67.”
Keep in mind that some manufacturers “self-certify” their products rather than submitting them to an outside testing firm. You’ll see specs like “meets IP55 rating” which doesn’t tell you anything about who really did the testing — or whether it actually meets the rating. Caveat emptor!