Which IP Rating is Needed for Marine Electronics

Marine electronics connectors
Marine electronics connectors

Harsh environments put pressure on electronics designers and engineers to ensure operational integrity and reliability. Environmental factors like extreme temperatures, high pressure, exposure to dust or liquids, and vibration have to be considered when selecting components.

One type of harsh environment where exposure and ingress must be considered in all aspects of the assembly is marine environments and systems. Depending on the functionality of the product and how it will be used, it may need to be designed to meet a specific ingress protection (IP) rating.

The IP rating system is used to categorize the resistance of an enclosure or assembly to exposure and subsequent ingress from foreign objects, such as solid debris and water, the latter of which is obviously important in marine environments. In addition to the enclosure, connectors and cable assemblies must also meet the required IP rating as these elements can provide a point for moisture ingress.

Some common connector assembly styles are available with sufficiently high IP ratings for use in marine environments, or you can opt for a custom connector that meets IP ratings.

IP Ratings for Marine Electronics

The IP ratings system uses a 2-digit code to denote a product’s resistance to ingress from solid debris (like dust) or liquids. The desired IP rating for a product depends on the exposure to solids or liquids that the product is expected to receive during operation. If you want to ensure the product will be reliable, the IP rating needs to be selected such that the product can withstand the expected worst-case exposure.

For marine electronics, this does not necessarily mean a device needs to survive submersion. IP ratings cover exposure levels ranging from infrequent splashes to complete submersion for extended periods of time. Components and assemblies with higher liquid protection ratings also tend to have a higher solid debris protection rating.

Marine electronics will have an IP rating of IP65 or higher and could best be described as weatherproofed. Highly reliable systems will have an IP rating of 66 or higher to ensure maximum protection against moderate pressure jets or low-pressure submersion for short time periods.

The table below summarizes typical IP ratings that are suitable for use in marine environments. These ratings (IP6X) are typical of weatherproofed or waterproofed assemblies and will have the maximum protection level against dust and other solid debris.


Protection Level


Protection from splashes at all angles and low-pressure water jets


Protection from high-pressure water jets


Ability to withstand submersion up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes


Ability to withstand long-term submersion

Weatherproofing vs. Waterproofing

The above ratings are the starting points for IP-rated connectors for marine systems. Products with ratings lower than IP65 could be considered weatherproofed, but they lack the level of waterproofing needed in marine environments. To ensure reliability against a broad range of exposures, it’s best to look for connectors that satisfy IP66 or IP67 requirements.

Many connectors are available that comply with IP66 to IP68 ratings, both in standard plug/receptacle form factors as well as custom or modular connector options. Two common standardized options for use in marine environments are M-series connectors (M5/M8/M12) and circular push-pull connectors. These connector products provide flexible pinout options with overmolded cable assemblies for added protection against

Corrosion Protection

In marine environments, it’s natural to pay attention to water exposure and ingress as that is an obvious danger to reliability. However, water ingress is not the only mechanism by which an assembly or connector will fail. Electronics placed in metal enclosures with metal connectors need to use materials that can resist seawater corrosion. The other possibility is to protect metal components using a galvanization process.

While a process like galvanization is possible for custom enclosures, connectors are often off-the-shelf components, and galvanization creates an added cost. However, standard connectors are available in corrosion-resistant materials like stainless steel and hard plastics.

Stainless steel is an ideal material for connectors used in marine environments. These connectors will be exposed to seawater during deployment, but they will have the required corrosion resistance to ensure reliability. Standard connectors made from stainless steels are available that will meet or exceed IP66 ratings.

Additional benefits of stainless steel connectors include their toughness and ability to withstand mechanical impacts, something which can be overlooked in a marine environment. These connectors can also be built with an overmolded cable assembly for additional protection.

Source: Norcomp: 821K Series IP67 Metal Shell Push Pull Connectors - 13mm | NorComp

Custom Rugged Connectors for Marine Electronics

Manufacturers of stainless steel connectors for use in marine electronic systems can often design a custom connector assembly that hits a required IP rating. A totally custom connector is one consideration that offers several design benefits:

  • Form factor and mounting can be customized (board or panel mount are standard)
  • Pin counts can be customized based on the required number of signals and interfaces
  • Power and signal can be consolidated into a single connector and cable assembly

If you opt for custom IP-rated connectors for rugged electronics, then it’s best to contact a manufacturer that specializes in designing and producing these connectors. An experienced vendor can provide a custom rugged connector design or ruggedize an existing design to ensure reliability in marine environments.

When you need to find standard or custom connector assemblies for marine electronics, Norcomp provides interconnect solutions that are designed for maximum reliability in harsh environments. Norcomp’s product lines are Rugged Environment Certified (REC) and are ideal for use in robotics, military, industrial equipment, and other demanding applications.

Custom connector options can be built to IP66 or IP67 ratings to ensure maximum reliability. Contact Norcomp today to learn more about our standard or custom interconnect solutions.

  Go Back