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AEDs and IP ratings: What are they and what do they mean?

If you've purchased an AED, or looked into buying one, you've probably noticed that manufacturers provide a lot of technical information about their AEDs. Pricing, ease of use, shock delivery time and other features often figure into the buying decision.


One piece of information that may affect your AED purchase is the unit's "IP code". Its often listed as "International Protection Marking" or "Ingress Protection Marking". It is a rating and classification for the amount of protection provided by electrical or mechanical enclosures and casings. It is measured against sources of material contamination, water, and unintentional contact. 


The classifications are listed as two digits followed by a letter. The first digit indicates the "solid particle protection level". The levels depend on the size of the particle:

Level sized Effective against Description
X X means there is no data available to specify a protection rating with regard to this criteria.
0 No protection against contact and ingress of objects
1 >50 mm Any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against
deliberate contact with a body part
2 >12.5 mm Fingers or similar objects
3 >2.5 mm Tools, thick wires, etc.
4 >1 mm Most wires, slender screws, large ants etc.
5 Dust protected Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to
 interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment.
6 Dust tight No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight).
A vacuum must be applied. Test duration of up to 8 hours based on air flow.

The second digit indicates the level of protection against water intrusion:

Level Protection against Effective against
0 None
1 Dripping water Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect on the specimen when mounted in an upright position
onto a turntable and rotated at 1 RPM.
2 Dripping water when tilted at 15° Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15° from its normal position.
A total of four positions are tested within two axes.
3 Spraying water Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either:
 a) an oscillating fixture, or b) A spray nozzle with a counterbalanced shield.
Test a) is conducted for 5 minutes, then repeated with the specimen rotated horizontally by 90° for the
second 5-minute test. Test b) is conducted (with shield in place) for 5 minutes minimum.
4 Splashing of water Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either: a) an oscillating fixture,
or b) A spray nozzle with no shield. Test a) is conducted for 10 minutes. Test b) is conducted (without shield) for 5 minutes minimum.
5 Water jets Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6 Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6K Powerful water jets with increased pressure Water projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure,
shall have no harmful effects.
7 Immersion, up to 1 m depth Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions
of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).
8 Immersion, 1 m or more depth The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer.
However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.
The test depth and duration is expected to be greater than the requirements for IPx7, and other environmental effects may be added,
 such as temperature cycling before immersion.
9K Powerful high temperature water jets Protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.
Smaller specimens rotate slowly on a turntable, from 4 specific angles. Larger specimens are mounted upright, no turntable required,
and are tested freehand for at least 3 minutes at distance of 0.15–0.2 m.There are specific requirements for the nozzle used for the testing. 


For most owners of AED units, like those stored within office buildings or similar locations, an AED with a lower IP rating would be completely sufficient.  These AEDs aren't subjected to immersion in water or high impact situations. In the case of a water-going vessel, a construction site, or an AED that would be used in outdoor environment, a higher IP rating would be desirable.

As an example, the Philips Heartstart Onsite AED is a common choice for our office-based and community customers. It carries a rating of IP21, which means that it is impervious to objects of a size up to "fingers or similar objects" and dripping water. The Philips FRX, by comparison, carries a rating of IP55, which indicates resistance to objects down to dust particle size, and to water projected from nozzles. This sort of AED might be preferred for Wilderness First Aid providers, Search and Rescue groups, or ski patrols.

Whatever your particular AED needs might be, CPR Seattle can help. Contact our office at or 206-504-3280 for more information on how to obtain, maintain, and use an AED in your location.

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Published on June 12, 2019