Lighting Dry-Damp-Wet UL Ratings

UL Ratings...What It All Means

Light Fixture Ratings for Dry, Damp, and Wet Locations

There are distinct differences between Dry, Damp or Wet ratings. Most light fixture and ceiling fan designs sold in the United States have been tested and rated by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent product safety certification organization. Some have also been tested by Intertek and have an ETL Listed mark.

It is not uncommon to become a little confused about UL ratings, particularly when selecting or specifying for a project. The following are some basic guidelines regarding UL ratings for lighting.

Dry Rated (UL listed for Dry Locations):
A dry location is an indoor area that is not normally subject to dampness. It may include a location subject to temporary dampness provided ventilation is adequate to prevent any accumulation of moisture such as in a bathroom.

A typical dry location can include kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, foyers and hallways. A typical dry rated light fixture would be a wall sconce with an open top.

Damp Rated (UL listed for Damp Locations)
Light fixtures and fans indicated "Suitable for Damp Locations" or "Suitable for Wet Locations" can be installed and utilized in a damp location. A damp location is typically an exterior or in some cases an interior location which is periodically subject to condensation or moisture. Damp rated light fixtures may have most of the wiring encased within the metal components of the fixture design but with a portion of the wiring exposed. An example of this would be a chain hung pendant with the wiring running through the chain links into the canopy and electrical box. Or in the case of a wall mount fixture, there may be a small portion of the wiring that is exposed from the hanger to the actual lantern.

A typical damp location can include bathrooms, indoor pool areas, utility rooms, or covered porch or patio.

Many of our customers select to install damp rated light fixtures in exterior locations covered by a very large overhang.
However, the height of the light fixture installation location is very important in this instance. The very bottom of the light fixture should be at or above a 45 degree angle drawn from the edge of the overhang (see diagram below). The light fixture should be fully protected from water, particularly from storms.

Wet Rated (UL listed for Wet Locations)
Light fixtures and fans indicated as "Suitable for Wet Locations" should be installed and used in a wet location (indoors or outdoors). A wet location can be an indoor or exterior location in which water or other liquids may drip, splash or flow onto the electrical components of the lighting or fan. Wet rated light fixtures will typically have all wiring encased within the metal components of the fixture design.

A typical wet location can include open decks, stairwells, patios, uncovered porches, exterior walls, gazebos, pergolas, and walkways. Common light fixtures for a wet location are column mount fixtures, post mount fixtures, bollards, wall mount fixtures, deck fixtures, and line voltage landscape lighting.