IP Ratings and Nema Ratings

NEMA & IP Ratings Explained | What Makes a Dust & Water-Resistant Laptop?

When shopping for a Toughbook at OC Rugged, you may notice that most products contain an IP or NEMA rating. Toughbooks are expected to meet high standards of ruggedness and durability, and these ratings help to ensure that a device is actually capable of holding up against dust, dirt, water, and other foreign bodies.

If you need a dust- or water-resistant laptop that you can confidently bring into the field, you should always confirm the durability ratings before buying.

Ingress Protection (IP) Ratings Explained

IP Ratings are part of an international standard (EN 60529) used to define the sealing effectiveness of electrical devices against penetration from moisture, dirt, dust, and other harmful contaminants.

Each IP rating has two numbers: the first number signifies the level of protection that users have from moving parts as well as the level of protection that the device has against foreign bodies. The second number signifies the device’s level of protection against different types of moisture penetration.

First Digit: Solids


No special protection. Not recommended for rugged-use environments.


Protection from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter. Large areas of the body are protected from moving parts, but deliberate contact may still result in injury.


Protection from other objects not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter. A finger may still come into contact with moving parts, but anything larger is unlikely to come into contact with internal components.


Protection from entry by tools, thick wires, and other objects with a diameter of thickness greater than 1.0mm.


Protection from entry by solid objects with a diameter or thickness greater than 1.0mm. These include most wires and solid screws.


Protection from the amount of dust that would interfere with the operation of the equipment.


Dust-tight. No dust or foreign bodies can penetrate the device.

For warehouses, construction sites, and other dust-heavy environments, the IP rating of all electronic work devices should begin with a 5 or 6. For vehicle or office use, a 4 may sometimes provide sufficient protection.

Second Digit: Liquids


No special protection. Not recommended for rugged-use environments.


Protection from vertically dripping water.


Protection from vertically dripping water when the device is tilted 15 degrees.


Protection from direct water spray at an angle of up to 60 degrees from the vertical.


Protection from splashing water in any direction.


Protection from water projected from a nozzle (6.3mm) at any angle.


Protection against heavy seas or powerful jets of water (12.5mm nozzle).


Protection against immersion up to 1 meter.


Protection against complete, continuous submersion in water beyond 1 meter.

In other words, the higher the rating, the greater the level of protection. For anyone who works outdoors in unpredictable weather, the IP rating of all electronic work devices should contain at least a 4. For fishermen and anyone who works at sea, strive for at least a 5, preferably a 6 or 7. Most Toughbooks are built to IP65 standards, making them excellent water-resistant laptops for most industrial jobs.

NEMA Ratings

NEMA is the National Electrical Manufacturer Association, an organization that has its own similar rating system. NEMA uses different testing procedures to determine the same types of durability standards.

There are currently 20 NEMA ratings. As with IP ratings, higher numbers equate to greater degrees of protection. Here’s just a sampling of some of the ratings:

NEMA Rating

IP Conversion

Intended For




General Purpose – Indoors

Best reserved for general office or home use in areas not prone to unusual service conditions.



Rainproof and Ice-Proof

Suitable for general outdoor use and able to withstand falling rain and ice formation. Many popular water-resistant laptops are NEMA 3R rated.



General Purpose – Dust-Tight

Suitable for indoor or outdoor use with gaskets that provide dust resistance. Best reserved for dry environments.



Submersible, Watertight, Dust-Tight, and Ice/Sleet-Resistant

Offers a degree of protection against brief water submission.



Oil Tight and Dust-Tight

The highest level of indoor industrial protection. Protects against dust, water jets, oil, and noncorrosive coolant.

Which NEMA Rating Do You Need?

  • If you just need a Toughbook that can withstand the most common environmental conditions in an indoor environment including a vehicle, look for NEMA 5 or higher.
  • If you need added outdoor protection, you’ll want NEMA 6 or higher.
  • If you work around flammable gases or vapors in an oil-immersed environment (such as in the oil and gas industry), you’ll need NEMA 8.
  • If your hazardous environment includes combustible metal dust or combustible carbonaceous dust, you’ll need NEMA 9.
  • For the most demanding indoor industrial environments, NEMA 13 will provide protection against just about every foreign body available aside from excess water penetration and corrosive agents. These are often favored in manufacturing warehouses that can be unpredictable but not subject to excess gas or vapor.

When shopping for a water-resistant laptop, the important thing is to always check the NEMA or IP rating before you buy it.