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My IP67 antenna has water in it, why?

Posted by Michael Crudele on

Recently, a customer complained that an IP67 panel antenna (in this case for RFID) that he purchased at our website had taken on water, he asked if this is acceptable. Well, I do have an issue with an IP67 antenna taking on water, technically it should not happen, but... 


The way IP67 is defined is that IP stands for “ingress protection” and the first digit denotes solid particle protection (dust) and the “6” rating means that the ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it won’t enter in sufficient quantities to interfere with the operation of the antenna. 


The second digit “7”  is for liquid ingress protection (water) and a 7 rating should allow the antenna to be immersed in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes without taking on enough water to affect performance.


The antenna in question is clearly not meeting the IP67 rating.  However, these ratings are tested in a controlled environment and done just one time.  Which means that when temperatures fluctuate and materials expand and contract, and devices (in this case antennas) are in the field for years, or even just days, the rating can be lost. 


The reality is that I’ve not seen ANY antenna that truly lives up to the IP67 rating when it must face direct and often prolonged exposure to rain on the backplane, which was the case here. 


My suggestion in these cases is to purchase antennas with "weep holes" or "drop holes" or to simply drill the holes (at least two) yourself in the plastic antenna radome on the side that faces the ground.  The water is going to get in anyway, but these holes will allow it to drain out and dry quickly.  This is what is typically done in RFID tolling applications when the RFID antennas are placed with the backplane facing the sky (think EZ Pass, Sun Pass, Toll Pass, etc.)


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