Flying A Drone In The Rain: A Guide To IP Ratings

  • A guide to IP Ratings and how they relate to flying a drone;
  • See our IP Ratings table, and learn what each digit in an IP code represents, and what an X or an M means in an IP Rating;
  • IP Ratings will be part of the syllabus for the A2 Certificate of Competency, as part of European legislation due to start in the UK in the summer;
  • Several DJI aircraft have IP Ratings, including the M200 Series.

Understanding IP Ratings and how this affects your drone’s tolerance to the elements will be included in the syllabus for the A2 Certificate of Competency (C of C), as part of new legislation coming out this summer.

The A2 C of C will come into effect in July 2020 – under new European drone regulation which will be introduced in the UK and will replace the current PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations). For full details of the upcoming regulations and the C of C, click here.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will reveal more details about the new rules in due course, but topics on the C of C training syllabus – to be delivered by Recognised Assessment Entities such as Heliguy – are set to include items such as basic principles of flight, congested area operations, avoiding collision, battery safety and IP Ratings – with specific mention of the IP43 Rating.

With this in mind, Heliguy Insider takes a look at IP Ratings, what they mean, and how they impact flying a drone.

IP Ratings – A Guide

What Is An IP Rating?

IP ratings – known as Ingress Protection or International Protection ratings – are defined to the international standard of EN 60529 (British BS EN 60529:1992).

An IP Rating consists of the letters IP followed by two digits and an optional letter. It classifies the degrees of protection provided against the intrusion of solid objects (including body parts like hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures.

The aim of an IP Rating is to provide users with more detailed information than vague marketing terms, such as waterproof.

IP Rating Table

The IP Rating table below shows what each digit in a standard IP code means. This will give you a picture of how tolerant your device or item is to specific environments and conditions.

What Do The Two Digits Represent?

The first digit (such as IP65) indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts (electrical conductors, moving parts etc) and the ingress of solid foreign objects. The first digit will be a number between 0-6.

The second digit (such as IP65) defines the protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against various forms of moisture (drips, sprays, submersion etc). The second digit in an IP rating will be a number between 0-9.

What Does The Additional ‘M’ Stand For In An IP Rating?

In some cases, an additional letter may be at the end of an IP rating, e.g. IP67M. This is done to indicate either certified resistance to specific materials/hazards, such as oil or high voltages, or a particular scenario in which the IP testing was conducted (for example in moving water).

What Does The ‘X’ Mean In An IP Rating?

In certain cases, an IP rating might be given as IPX7, IP5X, or similar.

Ratings that feature an ‘X’ somewhere in the code simply denote that a numerical rating has only been provided for one of the two main ingress types (foreign body or moisture), but not for the other.

So, IPX7 indicates a moisture resistance rating of 7, but no assigned rating against foreign body ingress.

Alternatively, IP5X will mean the product has been coded 5 against foreign body intrusion, but no certified level of moisture resistance is stated.

IP Ratings And Drones

So, what does this all mean when you are operating a drone?

Firstly, checking the IP Rating on your drone is a good way to identify the weather tolerance of your aircraft.

A sleek design and high IP rating ensure that your motors and fully enclosed components are protected against dust and rain.

An IP rating is especially important if you’re looking to fly your drone in rain, near construction sites, or in any situation where weather conditions might change quickly and bring upon adverse conditions.

For instance, the drones in the M200 Series and M200 Series V2 (M200, M210, M210 RTK) have an IP43 Rating.

So, this means:

  • Protection is provided against access to hazardous parts (e.g., electrical conductors, moving parts) and the ingress of solid foreign objects down to 1mm in diameter.
  • Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.

Ensure that when you’re operating your Matrice drone, you do not exceed the limits stated above.

Please note that although the IP43 protection will allow you to operate in some conditions, it’s not a complete waterproofing.

Essentially, it means that you can fly the M200 Series in light rain.

Hints and Tips For Flying Your M200 Series Drone In The Rain

  • Do not fly when the amount of rainfall exceeds 10mm/day;
  • Do not fold the frame arms in the rain;
  • The angle of inclination of the aircraft body and the ground should not exceed ±30° when flying the aircraft on rainy days;
  • Make sure the battery ports, battery compartment ports, battery surfaces, and battery compartment surfaces are dry before inserting the batteries;
  • Make sure the battery ports and battery surfaces are free from any liquid before charging the batteries;
  • Before packing the aircraft into the carrying case, ensure that it is free from any liquid by wiping it carefully;

It is important to remember that the aircraft does not achieve an IP43 protection rating in the following circumstances:

  • If you fold the frame arms;
  • If you turn the aircraft upside down;
  • You use the batteries other than the TB55/TB50;
  • The cover for the ports and buttons on the rear of the aircraft are not attached correctly;
  • The weatherproofing top shell plug is not firmly attached to the top shell;
  • The microSD card slot cover is not firmly attached;
  • The aircraft is broken due to various reasons, such as broken aircraft shell, failure of the waterproof adhesive etc.

Meanwhile, the recently-released agricultural drone, the DJI Agras T16, is water-resistant and has a high tolerance to dust ingress – making it ideal for this type of work.

The aircraft has a protection rating of IP54 (protected against dust, limited ingress permitted; protected against water splashed from all directions), while the protection rating of the aerial-electronics system, spray control system and propulsion electronic stability control system is up to IP67.

Other DJI aircraft, such as the Mavic and the Phantom series, do not have an IP Rating. It is therefore advised not to fly them in the rain.

To talk about any of the drones mentioned in this article, or to see how Heliguy can support your drone needs, give us a call or send us an email.

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