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Wet-Rated vs. Damp-Rated Light Fixtures

White house with a factory pendant light on the front porch above a wooden door with a round glass window.

In this guest post, Portland-based editor, Jade Chan, shares her findings on the difference between wet and damp-rated light fixtures. 


Sunshine, warmer weather, longer days, cool evenings— ’tis the season to enjoy the outdoors, which also means it’s time to think about how to light the space you want to relax in after the sun goes down.

Today’s lighting options come with many decisions: fixture finish, shade style, size, dimmable or not, hardwired or corded...the list goes on (and on and on). But when it comes to outdoor lighting, the most important feature to consider is whether a fixture is safe and suitable for your space. If you've ever wondered what the difference is between a damp-rated and wet-rated light fixture, this post is for you. Here, we break down the two ratings and share our suggestions for when to use which lighting type. 


Damp vs. Wet Location Light Fixtures

At first glance, the definitions of damp and wet seem clear, but it can become surprisingly easy to get confused by damp and wet ratings for light fixtures. When it has to do with lighting, understanding the difference between the two is important for the life of your fixture and for general safety. In the lighting world, the definitions look like this:

Damp-rated fixtures are built for use in outdoor locations protected from harsh weather, such as a covered porch, balcony, or patio; also for use in interior locations with moderate degrees of moisture, such as basements, barns, well-ventilated bathrooms (not directly exposed to the shower) and cold storage warehouses.

Wet-rated fixtures are designed to withstand direct exposure to outdoor elements like rain or snow.  


To simplify, use damp-rated lights in covered locations protected from rain and snow and wet-rated lights in areas directly exposed to water or precipitation.



Choosing Outdoor Lighting

With outdoor lighting, climate types should also be taken into consideration. For instance, outdoor lighting in a coastal climate will likely face wear and tear in a shorter time frame than lighting in an area with a more moderate climate. Schoolhouse lights are corrosion resistant, but no metal fixture is completely protected from salt-air environments. Routine cleaning with mild soap and water may help prolong the life of your fixture no matter where it’s located, but this is especially true for lighting in coastal or extra humid environments.

Selecting Bathroom Light Fixtures

Damp-rated lighting isn’t only for use as a porch light, balcony sconce, or patio fixture. It’s also suitable in bathrooms, laundry rooms, cold-storage rooms—any interior space subject to humidity or condensation of moisture that can affect a light fixture’s electrical components.


Schoolhouse offers a wide range of damp-rated products as well as several wet-rated ones, and all outdoor lighting can be found here. You can also find ratings in the Specifications dropdown on the product page. Damp-rated products will include a note “Suitable for Damp Locations: Yes,” or “Suitable for covered outdoor use,”; wet-rated products will note “Location rating: Wet.”

If you’re still unsure which type of lighting and which rating is best for your space, please consult your electrician. Whether the answer is wet or damp-rated, today’s lighting technologies offer an array of options, making it possible for you to get both style and safety—indoors and out.


Shop Outdoor Lighting


Written by Jade Chan

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