While searching for lighting for your application, you may have noticed that some fixtures are labeled “rated for wet environments” while others are “rated for damp environments”. Is there a difference? Yes. They are not the same and it’s important to know what it is.

The topic of this article will help you to choose the appropriate commercial lighting or industrial lighting for your facility or application based on these ratings. For example, an outdoor shoebox mounted on a light pole should be rated for wet environments. A warehouse light should be rated for damp locations if the area is humid or condensation is present.

To simplify a bit, these ratings account for varying moisture exposure levels. Also, they tell you how well lighting products can withstand these conditions.

However, to completely understand what wet location vs damp location means, we need to dive a little deeper.

So, if you are a facility manager, you may know how important it is to select your lighting carefully.

damp and wet rated lighting

Wet-rated LED Lights

The main reason people use wet-rated and damp-rated lighting fixtures is to add a level of safety.

Also, it can be problematic and even dangerous when lights are exposed to water or moisture.

Exposure to different levels of moisture may cause a light fixture to stop working. Even worse, it can become  dangerous – as water and electricity do not mix well.

LEDs need an electrical current to create light. Unfortunately, water serves as a conductor. When water makes a connection to electricity, it can cause electrocution or fires.

That’s the reason it is essential to prevent moisture from accumulating inside a lighting fixture and keep it away from all electrical connections.

When you use properly rated light fixtures in wet environments, it also ensures the light will last as long as it was designed to.


Wet Rated Leds

Damp-rated lights installed in wet environments may not function for very long. And the same thing applies to dry-rated lights in a damp environment.

Using the proper lighting rating system for its environment ensures the lights work safely and for as long as they are designed to function.

Being educated about dry, damp, and wet ratings allows you to get the most in your light purchase. These ratings indicate where particular fixtures can be safely installed.

As a result, picking the right fixture will ensure moisture will not affect the light or cause a safety issue. 

Dry Locations

Areas that are not normally subject to dampness are called dry locations. These locations may include areas subjected to brief dampness.

For example, a building that is under construction is subjected to dampness. It should provide adequate ventilation to preventing the collection of moisture.

Damp Locations

Damp locations are defined as an interior or exterior location that is periodically or normally subject to moisture condensation on, in, or next to, electrical equipment.

These locations even include partially protected regions.

Wet Locations

Wet locations are defined as areas in which liquids such as water can splash, flow on, or drip against electrical equipment.

Wet location luminaires need to be constructed in a way that prevents water accumulation on internal electrical components.

Damp Location Rated LED Lighting

Damp ratings refer to moist areas with no direct water exposure.

When lights are marked as appropriate for damp environments, they can be put up in locations like cold rooms, parking garages, or changing rooms at gymnasiums.

You can employ outdoor damp-rated LED lighting options for outdoor canopy lighting that is not exposed to wind or rain.

Also, you can use them in locations of buildings that have overhangs that do not permit water to trickle through. Otherwise, you should opt for wet-rated lighting solutions.

So, what’s a damp location exactly? It is a partially protected location where a product may sweat, or condensation might form periodically. Regions that are musty and humid are considered damp locations.

Wet Location Rated Lighting

Wet ratings refer to areas where the wet-rated outdoor light fixtures may encounter rain, dripping water, or some other liquid that could splash or flow against or on your LED lighting fixture or LED lamp.

When lights come in direct contact with snow or rain outdoors, people need wet-rated LED lighting will be required there.

Wall packs, flood lights, shoeboxes, and stadium lights must be wet location rated due to their constant exposure to the elements. In many cases, a wet-location light fixture has an IP rating. So, a fixture that is rated IP65 to IP68 is considered to be a wet location-rated light.

When a lighting option is marked as appropriate for a wet location, it can be used in both indoor and outdoor locations.

Wet & Damp Location LED Lighting

When your facility needs lighting that is designed specially to withstand exposure to moisture, then you already know why you need LEDs.

However, what you may not know is the kind of moisture-proof LED lighting you may need.

If your lights are exposed directly to moisture or underwater for a longer time, you will need to purchase wet-rated LED lighting solutions.

However, if you worry more about occasional splashes or high humidity levels, then you need damp location LED lighting.


Oil Rig Lighting

It’s important to note that there are two independent testing companies in North America that certify fixtures as wet or damp-rated: Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL). These certifications assure the safety of all types of consumer and commercial products. If the fixtures have passed the testing from either one of these companies, you will see their labels on the packaging and on the product itself.

Hopefully, you now feel confident in making the right decision for your particular lighting requirements.

If you are still not sure about the lighting solutions you’ll need, don’t hesitate to contact our lighting engineers.

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About the Author

Cory Peterson is Director of Sales & Marketing at LED Lighting Supply where he focuses on improving customer experience and revenue operations. Cory writes about commercial & industrial lighting, along with topics important to contractors and facility managers. In his free time, Cory enjoys traveling, snorkeling, exercise and cooking.

See more posts by Cory Peterson