When selecting a professional device, the IP protection class is crucial. Because only appropriately protected barcode scanners, mobile computers and tablets offer optimal performance without interruptions and failures.
The international IP code according to DIN EN 60529 indicates the protection of the unit's housing and seals against the ingress of foreign bodies (first digit) and water (second digit). The scales for both IP protection classes start at 0 (no protection), the highest values are 6 (even the finest dust cannot penetrate) and 8 (the unit can be permanently immersed in water). The protection also refers to the safety of the user; unintentional touching of internal components is not possible with higher-quality devices.
IP protection classes table
|Protection against foreign bodies / contact
|Protection against water
|solid foreign bodies with diameter ≥ 50 mm / access with the back of the hand
|solid foreign objects with diameter ≥ 12.5 mm / access with a finger
|falling dripping water if the enclosure is tilted up to 15°
|solid foreign bodies with diameter ≥ 2.5 mm / access with a tool
|falling spray water up to 60° against the vertical
|solid foreign bodies with diameter ≥ 1.0 mm / access with a wire
|splashing water on all sides
|dust in harmful quantity / complete protection against contact
|jet water (nozzle) from any angle
|dust-tight / complete protection against contact
|strong water jets
|permanent immersion. Unless otherwise specified, protection is provided up to a water depth of 1 metre.
Is a higher IP code better?Although an overall higher IP code indicates a more robust device, the two values of the IP code must always be considered separately. For example, the protection against water of a device with IP63, despite being completely dustproof, is only as strong as that of a device with IP33. Both can withstand falling water spray up to 60° from the vertical.
Areas of application
In clean indoor areas such as offices, units without an IP rating can in principle also be used. However, units with an IP rating of IP3X or higher (water ingress is irrelevant in this area) have a solid housing that prevents damage from small objects such as scissors, keys or screwdrivers.
Retail, warehouses and healthcare
From IP42, the units are protected against coarse dirt and small amounts of water. This means that there is no longer any need to worry about dirt or moisture when handling and putting away the devices. Cleaning devices with higher IP protection classes is also easier; they can be wiped with a damp cloth without hesitation.
Warehouses, manufacturing and outdoor use
For particularly demanding applications, units with IP codes IP65, IP66 and IP67 are suitable. They are completely dust-tight and can withstand direct water jets or temporary immersion in water. This means that neither the finest metal dust nor heavy rain can damage the units.
Total Cost of Ownership
In addition to protection against dust and water, robust devices have other special properties such as high drop resistance, vibration resistance and temperature insensitivity. The display is also tested with metal balls from a drop of several metres. This comprehensive protection can lead to higher acquisition costs compared to simpler (consumer) devices. However, if less downtime, manpower for replacement and new installation, repair costs and the longer service life are taken into account, the TOC (Total Cost of Ownership) of robust devices is on average 1/3 lower.