Understanding the Difference Between Dry, Damp, and Wet Rated LED Lighting

Understanding the Difference Between Dry, Damp, and Wet Rated LED Lighting

You may have noticed the terms “wet rated” or “damp rated” on some LED lighting fixtures, but do you know the difference between the two? These ratings are given by the Underwriters Laboratories when they have tested the product to determine what type of environment it is best suited for. Wet rated lighting fixtures can handle direct exposure to water, and damp rated fixtures can only handle indirect exposure to water. LED bulbs that have neither of these ratings are not totally enclosed, and therefore, are not suitable for use around water.

Why Does Wet Rating or Damp Rating Matter?

The primary reason that you should know what type of light to use is safety. LED lights run on electrical currents, and water serves as a conductor. As you are surely aware, when water meets electric currents, it could result in electrocution or fire. It is essential to have bulbs that are sealed. This will help to prevent accumulation of water inside of the electrical parts of a light fixture. This is especially important for submerged lights, like those in a pool or hot tub. Using the correct type of light fixture and bulb in wet or damp locations also ensures that you enjoy optimal longevity of the bulb. A dry rated bulb in a damp location, or a damp rated bulb in a wet location, probably won’t last very long.

What Is Defined As a Damp Location?

When we refer to “damp locations”, we are speaking of those which are protected from weather and aren’t exposed to total saturation. These areas can be subject to subtle moisture and condensation, however. Damp rated bulbs are good for indoor areas that are known for having higher humidity, such as a bathroom or kitchen. They are also great for covered outdoor environments that aren’t exposed to direct water or rain, such as awnings, patio overhangs, and below eaves of the roof. Eaves are located along the perimeter of a roof and are used to divert water away from the walls of a building. Illuminating the eaves of a house or building would require damp rated light fixtures and bulbs. Basements are commonly damp, humid, and musty. Due to the tendency of “sweating” or condensation, damp rated LED bulbs are necessary for illuminating this area.  

What Is Defined As a Wet Location?

Wet rated bulbs can be used in areas with dripping water, splashes, or flowing water that reaches electrical equipment. Light fixtures that can tolerate wet locations must be fabricated with waterproof seals in order to keep water from accumulating around electrical parts within the fixture, avoiding electrical shorts and damage. Wet rated lighting should be used for nearly all outdoor and landscape lights that have direct contact with rain or snow. Wet rated bulbs are used for submersed lighting in hot tubs, pools, and fountains. Underwater LEDs are especially popular for creating a resort-style look in pools by using colored or color changing LED lights.

Knowledge of wet and damp ratings will help you get the most value from your LED lighting. Make sure your fixtures are rated for the environments you want to install them, so you can light up any space you choose. Of course, if you’re still not sure what to look for, give us a call at 773.775.1613. We’re happy to help!

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