Do I need damp rated lights for my bathroom? – Flip The Switch

If you’ve ever looked into lighting options for your home, you may have noticed that each fixture has a rating for wet, damp or dry situations. These distinctions indicate the conditions the fixtures are designed for. Most indoor lights are rated for dry locations, but bathrooms present unique conditions. You may have wondered if all bathroom lights need damp ratings. If so, here’s what you need to know.

What are Damp-Rated Lights?

Damp-rated lights are designed to withstand moist environments, specifically those where condensation may build up in and around the fixture. Damp-rated lights can go both outdoors and indoors. They withstand moisture but not direct contact with the elements. You’ll see them in protected outdoor environments such as roofed porches, decks, sheds and basements.


Dry and Wet Rated Lights are Different

Dry-rated lights don’t protect against condensation and should not come into contact with water. However, these fixtures do withstand brief exposure to moisture with proper ventilation. Wet-rated lights are fine with direct exposure to the elements and water because they’re completely sealed to prevent moisture from entering their wiring compartments. These fixtures are usually more than you need for indoor installations.

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Do I Need Damp-Rated Lights in the Bathroom?

While damp-rated lights are recommended in some parts of your bathroom, they’re not necessary for dry spots. Vents extract moisture from the air, so condensation doesn’t build up quickly around every fixture. For example, you can install LED bathroom lights above a hand sink, even though many are rated for dry locations. While these fixtures illuminate a wet portion of the room, they’re not exposed to splashes of water or high levels of condensation. Dry-rated lights typically handle low levels of moisture in bathrooms nicely because ventilation prevents the accumulation of too much condensation.

In short, unless you’re wiring fixtures in close proximity to your shower, you can use dry-rated lights for most bathroom locations.

What to Consider When Installing Damp Rated Lighting

There are some areas where wet and damp-rated lights should be used in the bathroom, such as inside the envelope of the shower, where they may come in direct contact with water or moisture. In these situations, look for fixtures with the label, “Suitable for Wet Locations” or “Suitable for Damp Locations.” For example, many homes have recessed lighting fixtures above or in the shower — it doesn’t get much wetter than the inside of a shower, so these should be wet-rated lighting.

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Bathroom Lighting Ideas for Your Home

Because you’re not limited to damp-rated lights in the bathroom, you have plenty of options to choose from. Whether you hang crystal bathroom lights in dry locations or wet-rated recessed lighting inside the shower, these units can illuminate every corner of the room. Many of these fixtures have frosted shades or bulbs to diffuse light and prevent glare. Consider vertical bathroom lights beside your mirrors and add accessories to match every fixture.

You don’t always need damp-rated lights in your bathroom. Most spots in these rooms experience only mild levels of moisture, and ventilation prevents condensation. Browse through our bathroom lighting collections to find the dry, damp and wet fixtures you need to DIY.