Are outdoor speakers waterproof? The answer isn’t always as straightforward as you might think; nor is the question. You’ll often hear terms like waterproof and water resistant, but what’s the difference between the two?
Fortunately, there’s an international rating system that sets a standard for electronic products and services. Once you understand this system, you’ll better understand what conditions your wireless outdoor speaker can handle.
IP ratings explained
A product’s protection rating is expressed by the letters IP, followed by two numbers. The first number is the level of protection against intrusion by solid foreign objects, including particles like sand, dirt, and dust. The second number indicates the degree of water protection. If the code features an “X” instead of either number, it hasn’t been tested in that category.
Here’s how the ratings break down:
The product has no water protection.
IPX1 – IPX4
The product will still operate if exposed to falling or spraying water drops, or splashes.
IPX5 – IPX6
The product can resist jets of low- or high-pressure water, respectively. It can be considered “water resistant.”
IPX7 – IPX8
The product is protected against temporary immersion in water and can be considered “waterproof.”
The product can withstand high-pressure and high-temperature water jets.
The Ingress Protection Rating (or IP code) is a system developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), a not-for-profit, non-governmental global membership organization. Formed in 1906, the IEC is headquartered in Geneva and currently coordinates the work of more than 20,000 experts in 172 countries.
Rigorous testing at Bose
Speakers in Bose’s portable range are thoroughly tested, with IP ratings that make it easy to select the right wireless outdoor speaker to accompany your adventures. For example, the SoundLink Flex Bluetooth® speaker has an IP67 rating, so it’s sealed against dust and is also waterproof. You can take it paddleboarding, drop it in the sand at the beach, or leave it next to the pool without worrying. If it does happen to end up in the water, it will even float until you can retrieve it.
Bose Project Engineer Rebecca Kowalczyk is part of the team that developed the SoundLink Flex. A critical part of the process was choosing the best materials, as Kowalczyk explains. “Some of the things that went into the material selections were picking things that we know are inherently rugged, so powder coating on the grille was a natural choice. We use that right now for our professional speakers that live outdoors permanently.”
Durable Bluetooth speaker
The exterior casing of the SoundLink Flex is just as durable. “Silicone is similar: It’s just a very inert material that doesn’t react to a lot of environmental impacts or get damaged very easily, and we, of course, check our choices with testing throughout the development process.”
During the design process, Bose Reliability Engineer Jon Rapp uses a custom shower tester to test one example of water ingress. “This is developed to try to simulate different customer use cases,” he says. “For example, we have hot, soapy water that runs up through the tester and recirculates to give the product some very stressful conditions in which liquid ingress might occur. The intent of the test is to push the product to its limits, so we can assess the performance margin over what we think the customers are going to do with it. The main goal of this test is to make the product fail and find failure modes, so that we can design those out.”
The limits of waterproofing
If you’re wondering, “Are outdoor speakers waterproof?”, you can use the IP rating as a precautionary guide, as it’s based on the specific tests the product goes through during manufacturing. Remember that prolonged exposure to moisture can still cause damage, no matter the rating. For example, an IPX7-rated device can be submerged in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, but if it’s left longer or sinks to a greater depth, you could still end up with water damage.
Nevertheless, all Bose outdoor speakers are built with water resistance in mind, and the new SoundLink Flex is among the most durable of all. With one of these in tow, you can enjoy worry- free listening outdoors in all seasons. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach, hiking through the rain, or hitting the ski slopes, Bose has you covered.