Are your two way radios at risk of water damage?

Waterproof two Way Radio

Then, you need a Waterproof Two-Way Radio!

When it happens, a water damaged radio is usually a write off. Once corrosion sets in, repairs usually don’t last, because once corrosion starts, it just keeps going and creates more faults.

Radios can be protected with a specialist custom made waterproof bag, but these tend to make the radio bulky. A more user friendly and elegant solution is to actually have a purpose designed waterproof two way radio.

Can I buy waterproof two way radios?

Yes, of course you can, but just make sure you get the right equipment. To do this, you need to understand “IP” ratings… more on that later.

Unfortunately, even during normal every day use radios can and do get dropped into water… sometimes in the strangest of circumstances.
Baths, buckets, hand-basins and even toilets have claimed the lives of many two way radios in the past!

The writer remembers more than once, radios coming in for repair, having been dropped down the toilet. We drew straws to decide who had the dubious honour of attempting the repair…

Of course, besides domestic hazards like toilets, there are obvious high risk areas like oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds and swimming pools.
With humans being what we are, accidents are all too common. So, if you actually work with, on or around water, you should really be using waterproof radios.

Some radios are waterproof to the point of working even when totally submerged.

So, working in, or around water doesn’t mean you can’t use a two way radio.

Unfortunately, the term “waterproof” is a bit of a catch-all, and can mean many things.

Let’s be honest here… Nothing can ever be totally, permanently “waterproof”.
Any waterproof seal will fail at some point and allow moisture through.

A more appropriate term is “water resistant”.

But, even “water resistant” is a vague term and has the potential to confuse or mislead.
Water resistant, could mean that a radio can withstand spray and small amounts of moisture and may be usable in light rain, but it might not be submersible and will fail if actually dropped into water.
So, it’s important to know the limits of use.
Even if a radio is submersible, what depth can it tolerate and for how long?

This is where Ingress Protection (IP) ratings are useful.

The IP rating on a Two Way Radio will tell you exactly what environment it’s designed to work in.

An IP rating is defined by a 4-digit code, which represents an internationally agreed standard.
The format is the two letters “IP”, followed by two numbers. e.g. IP57

The first of the numbers rates the device’s protection against solids. (Sand, dust or fingers!).
It ranges from 0 to 6.

0 Not Protected
1 Protection against solid objects 50mm diameter or more
2 Protection against solid objects 12.5mm diameter or more
3 Protection against solid objects 2.5mm diameter or more
4 Protection against solid object 1mm diameter or more
5 Dust Protected
6 Dust Tight

Ratings 1 and 2 may seem a little odd. (Of course you can’t poke something the size of your finger inside a radio!) But the IP rating system is intended to classify any “enclosure”. Not just two way radios.

The second number rates the protection against moisture/liquid. Ratings range from 1 to 7.
(There are liquid ingress rating of 8 or 9, but these are set by manufacturers, so can’t be fully defined here).Waterproof Radio

0 Not Protected
1 Protection against vertically falling water drops for 10 minutes.
2 Same as 1 above, but with the radio tilted 15 degrees.
3 Protection against spraying water up to 60 degrees from vertical for 5 minutes.
4 Protection against splashing water from any direction for 5 minutes.
5 Protection against jets of water from any direction for 3 minutes.
6 Protection against powerful jets of water from any direction for 3 minutes.
7 Protected against immersion for 30 minutes.
8 Protected against continuous immersion. Depth specified by manufacturer.
9 Protected against close range high pressure, high temperature spray.
(Parameters specified by manufacturer).

So, with numbers 5 + 6, what’s the difference is between “jets” of water and “powerful” jets of water? It seems a little vague.
Any “jet” of water is likely to be very intrusive, but we’re looking at the difference between the water jet from a tap, and that from a pressure washer you’d use to clean the car.

IP numbers are sometimes replaced with an “X”.
The X means the manufacturer considers that part of the rating is meaningless.
If a radio is specifically designed to be used in a wet setting, the rating for solid particle ingress may be irrelevant, e.g. IPX6.

Avoid wet areas in workplaces.

If you need to use radios in a wet environment, just ensure the last digit of an IP rating will cover the environment your radios will be used in.

And remember! We’ve already said that even fully submersible radios will not survive indefinitely underwater.
So, if the worst happens, don’t be too nonchalant. Recover the radio as soon as you can.


Still not sure what you need?

For free help or advice on buying waterproof two way radios, please get in touch.

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Categories: Two Way Radio


By: Nick Allison. Nick's been in the two way radio industry for more years than he wants to admit. He has seen numerous initiatives come and go, but thinks there will always be a need for basic voice only two way radio comms.