A guide to everything you need to know about lighting safety ratings.
In lighting, we often hear confusing terms like “UL Listed” and “UL Rated” thrown around. But what do the terms actually mean? And what do we really need to know when shopping for light fixtures and ceiling fans? Here, we will explain the differences between these various ratings so you can understand what they mean and know exactly what to look for when shopping.
What does UL stand for, and what does it mean?
UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, which is an independent product safety certification organization. UL extensively tests products to ensure they meet safety requirements.
In regards to lighting, UL Ratings help us determine if a fixture or ceiling fan is safe for use outdoors, or in bathrooms. . These ratings determine if a fixture can be used in dry, damp or wet locations. If you are unsure about what differentiates a dry, damp or wet location, below is breakdown of each.
If you see “UL Listed” in the details of an item, that means it is suitable for dry locations. A dry location is any indoor space that is protected from dampness. Kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, hallways, foyers, offices and more. Additionally, parts of the bathroom that are away from moisture may be considered dry locations.
Fixtures and fans that can be used in damp locations will specifically be marked as suitable for damp or wet locations. These locations include indoor and outdoor spaces that are vulnerable to condensation, but not direct contact with water. These spaces include the area above bathtubs and sinks, utility rooms, covered patios and porches. It’s important to note that fixtures rated for damp locations should only be installed in outdoor spaces that are fully protected and not directly exposed to water, precipitation and other elements.
Light fixtures and fans that can be safely used in wet locations will specifically be marked as suitable for wet locations. Wet locations include both interior and exterior areas that are directly subject to water and elements. This includes drips and splashes on or against the electrical equipment. Wet locations include exterior walls, landscape lighting, uncovered porches, decks and more. Indoor wet locations include showers. When shopping for recessed lights for the shower, look for items that specifically labeled as shower trims, like this one from WAC Lighting. These will be rated for wet locations and often use a tempered glass lens. To learn more about outdoor lighting and exterior fixtures, visit our post about landscape lighting tips and ideas here.
UL Listed items that are wet location rated are not necessarily permitted to be submersed in water. For items that are submersible, look for documentation, usually in the way of an IP rating which specifically allows for underwater use and/or submersion to a specific depth.