The IP69K rating offers the highest degree of protection in the entire IP rating system. It’s superior to IP68 as well (more on the IP68 vs. IP69K section below). Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of the IP69K waterproof rating for devices. Let’s start with the technical description of the rating itself.
What is the IP69K Rating?
The water resistance of an IP69K device is rated for powerful high-temperature water jets. This means that the enclosure is protected against high-pressure and high-temperature spray-downs. This is common in the food processing industry. The “K” denotes the ability to provide protection against directed, high-pressure, and high-temperature water jets for cleaning.
There are typically two numerals after “IP” in an IP rating.
• The first one is for protection against solid foreign objects (mainly dust and other airborne particles). It ranges from 0 to 6, with 6 meaning the highest level of protection and complete dust-tightness, ideal for weatherproof devices.
• The second one is for protection against water and moisture. The rating is given based on fresh water and does not apply to other liquids, especially salt water. It ranges from 0 to 8 typically, but there is the highest one of 9. At 8, the enclosure is “protected against the effects of continuous immersion in water” and at 9, the enclosure is “protected against high pressure and temperature water jets.”
What is the K in IP69K Rating?
So, the K means something, of course?
Well, in the IEC 60529 chart, there is no mention of any K or 9K, only 9. It includes four additional and four supplement letters, but K isn’t one of them. The water resistance table includes numerals 0 through 9. There is another standard called the ISO 20653 that includes a section on IP codes. In this section, the table is slightly different. There are 12 entries in the water resistance department, the three additional ones being 4K after 4, 6K after 6, and 9K after 8 (no 9 here). Whereas 4K and 6K basically mean increased pressure compared to 4 and 6 respectively, 9K is specified as “high-pressure/steam-jet cleaning.”
Essentially, the two cases (IEC 60529 and ISO 20653) are based on slightly different testing conditions. A manufacturer can choose to adopt the ISO 20653 guidelines and offer an IP69K rating to a device if it meets all the required criteria.
IP68 vs. IP69K: Which One is Better?
Now, let’s take the real-world comparison between IP68 and IP69K. IP68 is the highest protection for the majority of consumer electronics such as smartphones and tablets. IP69K is reserved for devices and machinery that require protection from high-pressure and/or high-temperature water jets.
If a handheld device is rated IP69K, such as the Oukitel RT5 10-inch tablet meant for rugged outdoor use, then it means that it has greater protection from water. Not only can a device like this withstand submersion in water, but it can also cope with jets directed at it from any angle for a long period of time.
Mainly, enclosures with an IP68 rating can withstand submersion in water of at least 1 meter and for at least 30 minutes (the exact numbers depend on the manufacturer). But they cannot withstand high-pressure water jets. The IP69K is a different rating altogether. Devices that have both, the IP68 and IP69K ratings, can withstand both.
High-Pressure Water & Dust Resistance
The IP69K rating is specifically tailored for applications where equipment needs to endure intense cleaning processes. The "6" in the rating signifies complete protection against dust, making the device dust-tight. The "9K" indicates resistance to high-pressure water jets.
The “9K” bit is notable here – signifying that the device can withstand powerful, high-temperature jets even at close range. This is for devices requiring protection from water ingress even in the harshest cleaning scenarios, like those you’d typically find in food processing, pharmaceutical, and heavy-duty industrial settings.
Mainly, devices that have an IP69K rating are designed and engineered with enclosures that excel in environments where exposure to water, dust, and high-pressure cleaning is a challenge or prerequisite. This makes such devices and machines good in industries that have stringent hygiene requirements or anywhere where the equipment is usually subjected to regular cleanings.
The main industries might be food processing, automotive, and pharmaceuticals, but it’s not rare for some appliances or even electronics to have an IP69K rating, meaning they are created for ruggedness and outdoor use.
How is the IP69K Rating Achieved?
The main testing process is for the water jet protection. In this, the device being tested is subjected to a high-pressure water spray at close range. The jet hits it at different angles for 30 seconds each to make sure no water can get inside from any angle. The water used in this test is both high-temperature and high-pressure, simulating demanding real-world conditions.
But that’s only the 9K part of the IP rating. Additionally, it also carries a “6” in solid protection – the highest dust-tightness in the world of IP ratings.
For dust protection, the device is exposed to a controlled environment with fine dust particles. The equipment is evaluated for its ability to prevent the ingress of dust, ensuring that it remains dust-tight. This is pretty standard for all devices that have a “6” after the IP in their rating, like IP68 and IP50.
The device’s overall ruggedness might be even superior to what the IP69K rating suggests. For that matter, it’s important to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the exact details on the depth and duration of water resistance and dust protection.
Whereas the IP69K waterproof capability is the same as IP68, more or less, it can withstand any high-pressure and high-temperature jet from any direction, making it a niche IP rating for specialized devices and even electronics. Depending on your use case, you might encounter this rating on a variety of devices – and all of them offer the same protection, as IP69K is a standardized protection rating by the IEC and ISO.