Waterproof electric scooters and IP54 rating explained

There is an increasing demand for waterproof electric scooters suitable for use in wet conditions. Currently most electric scooters recommend against use in the wet, or suggest only limited exposure. IP54 is the most common rating for an electric scooter but what does this actually mean? This is a grey area we hope to make a little clearer.

We have a separate post looking at the best waterproof electric scooters for 2021.

Waterproof electric scooters can even be be used in the heavy rain

Electric scooter IP ratings explained

Most (but not all) electric scooters have Ingress Protection ratings (IP rating). This is a standard system for rating the level of protection provided by electrical enclosure / construction, against the ingress of solids or liquids. It provides guidance for safe use conditions and environments.

IP ratings take the format “IP”, followed by two numbers The most common for electric scooters is IP54. The first number indicates protection against solid objects and is on a scale of 1-6. The second number indicates protection against liquids and is on a scale of 1 – 9. The higher the number the better.

The IP rating will indicate whether electronics in the scooter are protected under different conditions of exposure to water. The IP rating provides an objective measure of water protection that can be communicated in product specification. Regardless of IP rating, manufacturers will still provide their own guidance to what degree the scooter can or should be used in the wet.

This means two scooters models, with the same IP rating, may have different advice from the manufacture about use in the wet conditions

There are several reasons for this. Firstly, because the testing procedure does not perfectly replicate real world use in the wet. Therefore it is possible a manufacturer is aware of a vulnerability to water that is not picked up in the test. More likely, manufacturers may just wish to guard themselves against warranty claims from water damaged products. By recommending you do not use it in the we, they shift the risk on to the user.

The specific meaning of IP ratings is summarised below. For more specific information about exact test conditions check out wikipedia page on ingress protection ratings.

FIRST number after IP = Protection from SOLIDS 

0 – No protection
1 – Protected against objects greater than 50mm diameter
2 – Protected against objects greater than 12.5mm diameter, such as a finger
3 – Protected against objects greater than 2.5mm
4 – Protected against objects greater than 1.0mm such as wire
5 – Ingress of dust is not totally prevented but dust does not enter in harmful quantities to interfere with the correct operation or impair safety
6 – No ingress of dust permitted

SECOND number after IP = Protection from LIQUIDS

0 – No protection
1 – Protected against light falling drops of water (object upright)
2 – Protected against drops falling at 15° in 4 fixed positions
3 – Low pressure spray – similar to shower head – at up to 60° from vertical for ten minutes
4 – Low pressure spray from any angle for 10 minutes – commonly referred to as splash proof
5 – Medium pressure jet – 6.3mm diameter, similar to garden hose – from any angle for 3 minutes
6 – High pressure jet, 12.5mm diameter – from any angle for 3 minutes
7 – Temporary immersion in water (1 metre for 30 minutes)
8 – Protected against the effects of continuous immersion in water
9 – Steam clean, high pressure, high temp jet wash

Interpretation of IP ratings – what do they mean in the real world?

We will focus on ingress protection against liquids (more specifically water) because ingress protection against solids is less of an issue for the majority of electric scooters, which have sufficient protection against solids ingress.

The most common IP rating for electric scooters is IP54 which states it can withstand “Low pressure spray from any angle for 10 minutes”. This is clearly open to interpretation along with all the other IP ratings. In order to avoid having to deal with scooters damaged by wet conditions, manufacturers tend towards cautiousness in their advice. Sometimes they are simply not sure themselves how it will stand up to regular use in the wet.

The table below is a pragmatic interpretation of what IP ratings for electric scooters. However, it is important to add that your scooter warranty will vary. It is your responsibility to check what is covered by your scooter warranty and make a judgement on the risk you are prepared to take. Also, take note of IPX7 rated water resistance – it may not be as good as it sounds!

IP RattingWhat is the IP Test Requirement?Typical Manufacture Advice At Listed IP ratingOur Comments / Interpretation
No IP ratingTest not conductedAvoid use in wetAvoid use in wet unless manufacturer advise otherwise. Exposure (not use) in light rain unlikely to cause issues but generally try to avoid it
IP54 / IPX4Low pressure spray from any angle for 10 minutes – commonly referred to as splash proofAvoid use in wet. Some will give more detail and indicate occasional use in wet / splash proof.Occasional use in light rain is unlikely to cause any issues, but you should not plan on using it in the wet regularly. You may choose to push the boundaries on exposure but this is risky.
IP55 / IPX5Medium pressure jet – 6.3mm diameter, similar to garden hose – from any angle for 3 minutesAdvice from different manufacturers varies widely for this IP rating. Varies from “safe to use in most wet conditions” through to “do not ride in rain or get wet to” to “ride in wet but avoid deep puddles”In general you can be confident that the scooter is unlikely to be damaged from riding it in wet conditions. However, be aware this is not a guarantee against water damage. You still need to check warranty cover.
IP56 / IPX6High pressure jet, 12.5mm diameter – from any angle for 3 minutesCurrently very few electric scooters have an IP rating this high. It may well be a strong “feature” or selling point. Most will manufacturers will probably advise that the scooter is weather proof / safe to ride in the rain. Worth checking manufacture advice but generally there should be very low risk of water damage to electronics from riding in wet conditions with this rating.
IP57 / IPX7Temporary immersion in water (1 metre for 30 minutes)This rating is very rare on electric scooters. Emove Cruiser recently got an IP67 rating. However, interestingly their advice is still against use in very heavy rain. Below are some possible reasons.There are so few examples of IP67 rated electric scooter that we recommend you look at the specific manufacture advice and warranty cover for the individual product

Is IPX6 actually be better than IPX7 for electric scooters?

IPX7 means that it has been tested for water ingress when the product is submerged. BUT, this is a very different test condition to “lower” ratings which all involve jets or sprays of water. To achieve IPX6, the device must have passed all the previous tests (IPX5, IPX4 etc). However, this changes at IPX7. A product with an IPX7 rating does not have to have achieved an IPX6 rating. This is not widely know and is much more significant for electric scooters than some other products.

Take a mobile phone. Most people fear water damage from submersion (dropping in the bath, down the toilet, in a swimming pool etc). There are not many circumstances that phones will be exposed to pressurized spray. In this case an IPX7 rating is actually more valuable, because of the real world risk scenarios. Electric scooters on the other hand, are very likely to have to repel pressurised spray if they are used in the rain, but are unlikely to be submerged in a swimming pool or dropped down your toilet!

Therefore if an electric scooter has an IPX7 rating, it is worth understanding if it also has IPX6. This actually needs to be listed as a separate rating. If it has an IPX7 rating, pay close attention to the wording of the warranty and user manual.

Can I ride my IP54 electric scooter in the wet?

A scooter rated IP54 can withstand “Low pressure spray at any angle for 10 minutes” which is not exactly a waterproof. What this means for an electric scooter in real world wet conditions is open to interpretation. Water damage does not seem to be a particularly common for most electric scooters rated IP54, suggesting occasional use in slightly wet conditions should not be an issue. But each individual scooter will respond slightly differently under real world conditions, even with the same IP rating. Therefore use of an IP54 rated electric scooter in the wet, (particularly for extended periods), is a risk to electrical components. Whether you are prepared to take that risk is a judgement call.

Which electric scooters are truly waterproof or higher than IP54?

There is increasing demand for waterproof electric scooters that can be guaranteed to withstand wet conditions. However, there are currently a limited number of scooters on the market which can truly be considered waterproof. The Pure Air and Pure Air Pro are recent examples of electric scooters with a higher level of water resistance, with an IP rating of IP65. Their high level of water resistance is a key selling point in the UK and across Europe. We will keep an eye on the market and compile a list of electric scooters with high IP ratings in the near future.

What if my electric scooter doesn’t have an IP rating?

If your electric scooter doesn’t have an IP rating this is because it either hasn’t been tested OR it has been tested and it performed badly, so the manufacturer does not publish the IP rating. It is also worth adding that some manufacturers may advise against the use of their electric scooters in the wet, regardless of IP rating, for safety reasons. For example, very fast and/or powerful electric scooters may simply be seen as too dangerous for use in wet conditions, The chances of fatality from a fall above 30 mph is significantly higher than a lower end scooter going 15 or 20 mph. Travelling at higher speeds in wet conditions could be regarded as prohibitively dangerous and manufacturers do not want their products to be associated with irresponsible use or fatalities!

If your scooter or one you are considering buying does not have an IP rating then we recommend contacting the manufacturer (or supplier) to ask for their recommendation on usage in wet conditions. Most user manuals will have guidance on this, but you may find that you can get more detail from the actual manufacturer. For example, the manual may say never to use in the wet, but suppliers / manufactures may be able to give you a much better idea of the risk, particularly if the product has been on the market a long time.

Can I improve the water resistance of my electric scooter?

Yes -whether your electric scooter has an IP rating or not, it is possible to improve its water resistance. But like any modifications, this needs to be done “at your own risk” and be aware that it may invalidate your warranty. Assuming you are prepared to accept this, there are a number of things that can be done. This varies between electric scooter models and some electric scooters may be easier to make waterproof than others. For example, if there are specific parts of the scooter design that are known to be susceptible to water ingress, it is possible that there is a simple fix. Many of the approaches to improving water resistance involve using various sealants. We will add further information about modifications that can be made to specific models later.

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