The first thing to note about weatherproof security cameras is that they’re not waterproof. Any device that is waterproof is completely impervious to water. In general, waterproof cameras are the ones people use to take underwater photographs. Outdoor security cameras don’t need to be waterproof, but they do need to be weatherproof if they’re to stand the test of time. In this piece we look at what makes a great outdoor security camera truly weatherproof and protected against all the elements.
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Buying Weatherproof Security Cameras
Proper outdoor security cameras come equipped with a weatherproof cover or housing. The purpose of these coverings is to keep out moisture, dust and dirt so that it cannot get inside and damage the camera’s internal components. Some even come with vandal proof housings. These consist of high quality baked-enamels, stainless-steel and painted-steel casings.
As the name suggests, weatherproof cameras can withstand weather conditions. This will include rain, sleet, snow, and whatever else Mother Nature throws their way. However, not all weatherproof home security cameras are alike, hence this guide on how to get the most value for your buck.
Aside from wet conditions, a decent weatherproof camera also has protection against the following:
- Extreme temperatures
- Extreme humidity
- High falls
In short, water; damp, persistent condensation and wind do not pose a threat to these kinds of security cameras. However, there’s a bit more to choosing one of these systems than first meets the eye. All high quality outdoor cameras have something called an environmental rating. This rating indicates the camera’s suitability for use in certain environments. It sounds technical, but it’s actually very easy to read and useful to consumers.
IP Ratings (Ingress Protection)
We base an outdoor security camera’s suitability on its Ingress Protection (IP) rating (not to be confused with Intellectual Property or IP address). The specifications page of any camera model should determine its environmental rating. Let’s take a closer look at these ratings and see how they can help you make a better informed decision when shopping for outdoor camera systems.
What Is an IP Rating?
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC standard 60529) developed this rating. It’s akin to the British standard EN 60529. What the IP rating does on a security camera (and all electronic equipment) is classify and rate the degree of real protection (intrusion) it has against outside solids and liquids in various forms.
All the protection factors include defense against the following:
- Body parts (hands and fingers)
- Accidental contact
- Water by mechanical casings
- Electrical enclosures
The Ingress Protection rating consists of just two numbers. Let’s take a rating of IP67 to illustrate.
- The first number “6” indicates the level of dust resistance (solid particles)
- The last number “7” indicates the level of water resistance (spraying, dripping, submersion)
It’s that simple. The first number is always the dust resistance and the second number the water resistance. The dust resistance goes from a scale of 0-6 with 6 being the most resilient. That means in our example, the device would have the maximum protection against dust. The water resistance goes from a scale of 0-9 with 9 being the most resilient. So in our example above, the device is well-protected but it’s not 100 percent resistant against water. It’s not bad, but it’s not perfect.
IP first digit rating (solid protection):
- 0 – Denotes zero protection
- 1 – Protection from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter
- 2 – Protection from fingers or any objects less than 80mm long and 12mm in diameter
- 3 – Protection from wires, tools, etc., greater than 1.0mm in diameter
- 4 – Protection from solid objects entering more than 1.0mm in thickness or diameter
- 5 – Protection from quantity of dust that could interfere with the with the equipment’s operation
- 6 – 100 percent dust tight
IP second digit rating (moisture protection):
- 0 – unprotected
- 1 – protection from water droplets
- 2 – protection from water that drips vertically
- 3 – protection from water spray
- 4 – protection from water splashes
- 5 – Protection from water propelled from a spout or nozzle
- 6 – Protection against heavy seas and strong surges of water
- 7 – Protection against water immersion
- 8 – Protection against constant immersion in water
- 9 – Protection against high pressured close-range spray downs at high temperatures
Our example of IP67 translates to a device that is 100 percent dust tight and waterproof up to a point, i.e. by dropping the device for a short period under water.
Why this Rating?
The aim of this standard is to provide additional and more detailed information to users. It came about to fill the blanks of the often vague marketing terms like “weatherproof” or “waterproof.” Both of these terms are shallow in meaning and can be misinterpreted. They don’t specify precisely what the device is weatherproof or waterproof against, i.e. hot days, shallow pools, extremes, or whatever. So the IP rating helps us to select a product that is reliable and likely to have a long life. With regards to outdoor security cameras we need a much higher IP rating than say an indoor system.
What Rating Do You Need?
OK, so based on the above, the rating you should look for in your outdoor security cameras should be somewhere around IP65-67. Here’s a breakdown on how I’ve come to this conclusion:
- 44 or less – indoor only
- 44-45 – indoor/outdoor, but only if under sheltered areas (weather resistant)
- 65-67 – indoors or outdoors (weatherproof)
- 68 – Underwater, usually reserved for boats (submersible)
For more detailed information on IP Ratings you can view the IP Rating Reference Chart.