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EN 511 Explained

Monday, 12 February 2018

Low air temperatures, wind and wet conditions can have a debilitating effect on your body when not properly prepared with a set of high-quality cold weather gloves. In order to find just the right pair, you need to be familiar with how winter work gloves are tested and rated.

Since you've ended up here, you're probably wondering what exactly the marking EN 511 is and how on earth it's related to you finding warm, cosy, frost-resistant winter gloves. We know how confusing this kind of terminology can be, so our attempt at explaining thermal work gloves will hopefully help you learn all you need to know about EN 511 in a way that will save you some time.

What Exactly is EN 511?

European Glove Standard EN 511 specifies the requirements and test methods for gloves which protect against convective and conductive cold up to -50°C, as well as water permeability. Gloves that will protect you and warm you even in the chilliest conditions can easily be recognised by bearing this symbol:

EN 511 Symbol

More often than not, the sign will be accompanied with three numbers that show how well your glove did in a particular test. With convective and contact cold tests, the higher the number the better the performance, while water penetration is only marked with either 0 or 1, where 0 signifies the glove failed the test and 1 means the test was successful.

Test Levels
Convective Cold 0 - 4
Contact Cold 0 - 4
Water Penetration Test 0 or 1

When either of these numbers is replaced with an X or N/A, this doesn't mean the glove has failed the test, but that it's never been tested for that particular hazard. If a glove fails or is not tested for water permeability, this doesn't affect its ability to protect from cold in any way.

Contact Cold Test

The contact cold test is the easier of the two, as it only involves the glove materials being placed between metal plates, which are at different temperatures. The measured temperature drop across the test specimen is then used to calculate its thermal resistance.

Performance Level Thermal Insulation (R) in m2°C/W
1 0.025  R < 0.050
2 0.050  R < 0.100
3 0.100  R < 0.150
4 0.150  R

Convective Cold Test

The convective cold test is slightly more complex. During this test the glove is placed on an electrically heated mannequin hand that measures the amount of power required to maintain 30°C and 35°C in a controlled environmental chamber.

The chamber is cooled down to 20°C below that of the heated hand and constant air flow is applied. The assessment is based on determining the electrical power required to maintain a constant temperature gradient between the surface of the heated hand and the atmosphere in the environmental chamber.

The more electrical power that is required, the lower the thermal insulation value of the glove. See the table below for a more detailed explanation of determining the convective cold levels.

Performance Level Thermal Insulation (TR) in m2°C/W
1 0.10  ITR < 0.15
2 0.15  ITR < 0.22
3 0.22  ITR < 0.30
4 0.30  ITR

Water Penetration Test

Unlike the two tests above, the water penetration test is a simple pass/fail test. To determine water permeability, the glove is submerged in water for 5 minutes. If the glove retains its impermeability, then it passes with a Level 1 rating, while the gloves that fail receive a Level 0 rating. 

Test Your Knowledge of EN 551

Check your understanding of EN 511 Standard with this quick test. Let's look at these Ejendals Tegera 10 Thermal Work Mittens.

Ejendals Tegera 10 Thermal Work Mittens

EN 511 Rating: 22X

Property Resistance Level
Convective Cold Resistance Level 2
Contact Cold Resistance Level 2
Water Permeability N/A

This is an example of what you will usually come across here on WorkGloves.co.uk in regards to the EN 511 European Standard. What it means is that these Work Mittens have passed the tests for both contact and convective cold with Level 2, while they weren't tested for water permeability, making them medium resistant to contact and convective cold, but not waterproof.

Hopefully this short explanation of EN 511 Standard can help you with finding the right cold-resistant, warm or winter work gloves. On WorkGloves.co.uk we stock a broad range of EN 511 Work Gloves, so make sure you check them out.