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External Notice Boards – Certified Water Proof?

Outdoor Notice Boards – How Water-Proof Are They?

There is a bewildering number of external notice boards on the market today. For the new buyer these choices can be a little overwhelming. So it can make sense to start on the important points. One such consideration is knowing just how water-proof your new potential notice board will actually be. So it’s fortunate that a reliable certification exists for them, it’s referred to as an IP rating. Actually, the tests are not exclusive to notice boards, but apply to various enclosures and cases. Additionally the range of tests also cover the entry of dust. While the certification of outdoor notice boards is helpful, it should not completely dictate your choice. Some outdoor models are designed to efficiently expel condensation from the board. This means they cannot achieve the IP rating because of the condensation escape exit. But are still excellent at protecting your documents from the weather.

Condensation inside external notice boards

Before we move on and look at the IP rating in detail, let’s briefly mention condensation. Generally speaking condensation is not a fault, but rather a natural phenomena. All outdoor notice boards will exhibit condensation at some point. Typically in the morning and clearing as the day progresses. Condensation occurs because of water in the air (water vapour) touching a cold surface and appearing as water droplets.  However excessive and persisting condensation can be caused by the location. Therefore some external notice boards benefit from adjustment to the airflow, to reduce condensation. One the whole this is not usually a problem but worth mentioning. 

What does IP stand for?

Many of today’s outdoor notice boards carry an IP certification, usually in the form of a simple code. The most common of which are IP55 or IP56. But in order to appreciate the value of those codes we need to know a little about where the award comes from and what it actually relates to. IP refers to the International Protection Marking, you may also hear it referred to as the Ingress Protection Marking.

Who is responsible for the IP Rating?

The IP rating is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission, also referred to as the IEC. Millions of products in offices, factories, transportation and more rely on the IEC standards. In fact the IEC is the world’s leading organisation that publishes International standards. These include standards for electronic and electrical technologies. Even some mobile phones, tablets and cameras have a IP rating, usually on models that have some form of water protection . Many manufactures depend on the IEC to ensure their products work safely together. Through a large number of testing centres they issue certificates to a number of different specifications. Wikipedia has an excellent, but brief overview of the IEC –Read the article.

So the IP certificate has some serious credentials and actually means something.

What does the IP56/57 code cover?

Now that we know who issues the certificate, and that it comes from a reliable recognised source. We now need to know what the IP rating actually covers. We already know what the IP stands for (International Protection Marking), which can also be referred to by IEC standard 60529. But we can now turn our attention to the two numbers that immediately follow it. By the way, nearly all IP certified external notice boards have a IP55 or IP56 rating.

1st Digit

The first of the two digits is a rating of protection of an enclosure against foreign or solid objects. This protection is rated from 0 (no protection) to 6 (dust tight). This can include human fingers! (rating 2). If your finger comes into contact with a electric circuit it could be quite dangerous. The higher the number, the more the enclosure resists intrusion by smaller objects. As we reach a rating of 5 & 6 the enclosure or case can even resist the ingress of dust! So we can see that the first digit, does not concern itself with any water-proof resistance. However it can still be comforting to know that your new external notice board can resist dust to a reasonable degree (rating 5).  See the chart below for a full explanation of the ratings of the first digit.

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

2nd Digit (the most important one)

The second digit is the one that is really of interest on outdoor notice boards as it a rating of water protection. Water ingress into a notice board is certainly not desirable if you want to prevent your messages getting soggy! If you have decided on a felt pin board interior board, then you certainly don’t want soggy wet felt as that would affect all your new messages too!

The rating ranges from 0 (no protection) to 9k (powerful high temperature water jets).  Typically only two of these ratings can be found on weather-proof notice boards, namely 5 & 6. So as you peruse various models you are likely to find them rated as either IP55 or IP56 certified.

Level 5

As you can see from the chart below, the 5 rating refers to a test where water is projected from a nozzle of a specified diameter of 6.3mm. This is then directed at the enclosure (in our case an outdoor notice board) at different angles for at least 15 minutes. The amount of water and the pressure of the stream is also specified. Providing no ingress occurs, the board then achieves it’s IP55 certification.

Level 6

As we can also see from the chart the level 6 test is similar but tougher. This time the water applied in a powerful jet with a much larger nozzle of 12.5mm. This more powerful water stream forces water into weaker places where on the previous test it may have not reached. It also applies more pressure on the external notice boards weather seals. Again the amount of water, pressure and duration are also specified. So an IP56 rating is the better of two. An external notice board is unlikely to experience water directed in this way during it’s normal use. So although better than IP 55, it should not be considered as essential for normal applications.

IP55 & IP56 Water resistant chart

IP55/56 Protection Chart

Should I Only Buy an IP Certified Outdoor Notice Board?

No. While the certification is helpful there are many good reasons why it may not be necessary. We touched on one of those reasons earlier, condensation management. One of our best ranges of professional outdoor notice boards does not have an IP rating. This is because it has exit point for condensation to escape, and therefore would not pass the IP ingress test. However that exit point is cleverly positioned on the underneath of the board. As water does not travel up (we can thank gravity for that), water does not enter the board at this point. The range features high quality elastomer seals and has one of the longest guarantees of 5 years and an impeccable reliability history!

It’s a simple case of horses for courses, the more exposed the board, the better quality board you should invest in. Coastal installations for example require a quality board, because of the weather conditions, wind, salt and sand etc. An IP certified fully closed design would be a good choice. Economy outdoor notice boards without an IP rating can still be great value for money, but of course they may not be suitable for more exposed areas. Coastal or open high altitude areas may not suit budget model. You usually find that as you go up the quality ladder the number of weather seals increases as does the life expectancy of the board itself.

Conclusion

You now know that when you see the IP rating on any advertised external notice boards, that it is a recognised international and creditable rating. We can also conclude that while it can be seen as mark of quality, it is not essential one. If you would like to discuss this further or need advice call our sales office on Tel. 020 8581 1067 or use our contact form to tell us more about your enquiry.