We all know what it means to be ‘waterproof’… or do we? Does it mean your electronic device can be submerged in water, or that it can withstand a spilled drink? What if it’s left out in the rain? And by submerged in water, what kind of water are we talking about? A kiddie pool, toilet, frigid lake, or 100 degree hot tub?

Thankfully there’s a way to know for sure. There’s a rating system that ‘officially’ measures and rates electronic devices for things like water resistance and dirt or dust when it comes to portable wireless speakers.

What’s an IP Code or IP Rating?

You’ll hear terms like weatherproof, waterproof, water resistant, and splash proof, but what do those words really mean when it comes to portable speakers? While they may sound descriptive, what you really need to focus on is the IP rating.

The IP rating or International Protection Marking or Ingress Protection Marking rates how well protected your electronics are against incursions.

Also sometimes known as an IP Code, this mark will have a series of letters and some numbers (such as IPX5 or IP67), and here we’ll look at what these mean and how they describe the durability and water-proof-ness of your electronic devices.

The letters “IP” actually stand for Ingress Protection or International Protection.

An “X” indicates there is no data for a certain criteria.

The numbers correspond to levels of protection. A ‘0’ is used where something has no protection.

JBL Link 10 reviewHow to read an IP rating

The first digit or letter after the letters IP rates how well protected a device is against solids or objects getting inside; think dust, dirt, sand, fingers, pens. In many of the speakers we’ll be looking at, they have not been rated for solids intrusion, so you’ll see the designation “IPX” and then a number. It’s not that there isn’t any barrier against this kind of intrusion, it’s just not been formally rated.

The second digit measures liquid intrusion protection. For the most part this tested with basic fresh water, and can’t necessarily apply to ice cold Coke, hot chlorinated water or a very dry martini.

There are some other considerations for water resistance, like the duration of exposure to the water and the distance that it originates from (think a jet of water sprayed from a hose a foot away, versus a water gun shot from across the yard) but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll skip some of those technicalities, since the chances you’re going to get out a tape measure and calipers to measure what happened to your speaker is pretty small anyway.

IPX1-IPX6 are basically water resistant (also known as splash proof), meaning they resist water intrusion. Anything above that can be considered waterPROOF.

ultimate ears boom 2 portable bluetooth speaker waterHere are the different levels of water resistance and waterproof protection:

IPX0 – No water resistance

IPX1 – Protected against vertical water falling from above.

IPX2 – Protection against vertical water dripping, even when the device is angled up to 15°.

IPX3 – Water falling on your device won’t harm it, even when it hits from an angle of up to 60°

IPX4 – Splashed liquid from any direction likely won’t get inside

IPX5 – Protection from water jets from any direction, projected from a nozzle up to 6.3mm.

IPX6 – Protects from more powerful water jets from a nozzle of up to 12.5mm, coming in from any direction.

IPX7 – Your device can be fully immersed in water and withstand pressure up to 3 feet or 1 meter.

IPX8 – Your device won’t be harmed by ending up in water over 3 feet.

Waterproof speakers

Search for waterproof speakers and you’ll find options from all the major brands from Sony to Ultimate Ears. waterproof speakers are best when you really don’t know what could happen to a portable wireless speaker. These are great to bring on excursions, or boating when you absolutely need the best protection.

Permanent Outdoor Speakers

If you’re looking for a safer and more permanent solution to getting tunes outside, Outdoor Speakers are the best choice. Made to withstand all kinds of weather from summer to winter, these speakers come both wired and wireless, and are designed for permanent or semi-permanent installation around you house.

How to shop for a weatherproof speaker

If you’re wondering what  to look for when it comes to choosing a weather and waterproof speaker for outdoor use, make sure you check the IP rating and understand exactly what the rating means. Another good tip is that if you’re using a speaker around deeper water, check to see if it floats, since diving into the pool to retrieve it is okay, but hunting around the murky bottom of a lake is no fun.

Another good idea is to look for speakers that advertise themselves as ‘rugged;’ particularly if you’re going to take them camping, hiking and biking. These speakers are made of more durable stuff that means they’ll last, even though drops and falls.

See a huge range of bluetooth portable speakers at Best Buy