Wet Location Weather Ratings for Outdoor LED Lighting

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Finding LED lighting fixtures suitable for outdoor wet locations

Your landscape, garden or patio LED lighting project is an investment of your money and time that is well-worth protecting. By choosing quality lighting fixtures that are rigorously tested and certified to hold up against the weather, you can protect yourself and prevent future maintenance and replacement headaches.

But there are many untested lighting products made from inferior materials that will deteriorate quickly. Within months fixtures are rusting, waterlogged and need replacing. 

So how can you be sure the outdoor lighting fixtures are waterproof and safe for installing outdoors in your landscape or garden?

Below we’ve listed the most common certifications (listings). When the lighting fixtures you want comply with certain testing standards, they will be listed as certified. So you can sit back and enjoy your installation without the problems.

outdoor led lighting fixtures etl ul wet location listings

Outdoor LED Lighting Fixtures Made in the USA

In the U.S., the government agency called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certifies a company to be a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). NRTLs are independent testing laboratories that test the performance of manufactured products to set of published industry recognised standards. 

North American Standards

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, or NEMA, is an industry trade association that helps develops strict standards to which independent testing laboratories check outdoor lighting fixtures against. NEMA does not directly certify lighting fixtures to be outdoor rated.

The Canadian Electricity Association is the equivalent of NEMA in Canada.

So, in essence, the government certifies the laboratories (NRTLs) that test to standards NEMA helps set.

NRTLs certify products with UL and ETL listings (when they pass the performance tests).

Look for Certified Wet Location Products from these Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs): 

UL – Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

ETL – Edison (Electrical) Testing Laboratories (Intertek)

C-ETL – Edison Testing Laboratories (conforms to Canadian standards)

CSA – Canadian Standards Association (conforms to UL standards)

These independent labs test for other strict electrical standards too, so it is important to have a UL or ETL listing as a mark of general safety and quality.

Outdoor Locations: What Ratings to Look For in Lighting Fixtures

There is a USA National Electrical Code (NEC) that defines ‘Dry Locations’, ‘Damp Locations’ and ‘Wet Locations’ to help you determine what fixture is appropriate for where.

UL or ETL Wet Location Ratings

For outdoor landscape and patio use, invest in fixtures that have a UL or ETL 'Wet Listed' or ‘Wet Location' rating. Fixtures that are UL or ETL wet-listed are designed to endure wet outdoor conditions and inhibit water on live parts or other electrical components for a safe and long lasting installation.

Here is an example:

SPJ Lighting fixture (manufactured in the USA)

UL Wet Listed 

This light is ok to hang where it will come into direct contact with water. Outdoors in the rain is fine.

A UL or ETL ‘Damp Location Rating’ may be appropriate for a fixture in a partially protected location such as under canopies or a roofed porch where it is sheltered from weather and not subject to soaking but to moderate degrees of moisture.

International Standards

European-made/designed fixtures and many US made fixtures are tested for Ingress Protection, or or an IP rating. This rating tells you how a fixture performs against the elements in an outdoor location. 

The International Electrotechnical Commission, or IEC, provides the standards for IP ratings.

IP Rating

The IP rating has 2 numbers, the first rates for protection against solid foreign objects (dust for example). The second rates for protection against liquid, essentially water.

For outdoor use, the first number should ideally be a 5 or 6. Five (5) in the first slot means they are protected against dust (with some ingress but no harmful deposits). A six (6) means they are completely sealed tight against dust.

The second number should be between 5 through 8. A 5 rating can withstand low-pressure jets from any direction (limited ingress permitted). An 8 rating is protected against long periods of immersion in water under pressure (think shallow pool or pond).

Smart & Green lights have an 8 rating for the second number as they are waterproof and can float in ponds/pools.

Here is an example:

Smart & Green fixture
The 6 means it is protected against dust (sealed completely). The 8 means it is submersible, so definitely ok for outdoor use. Great for outstanding pool parties!
Materials, whether it’s brass, aluminum, copper or other also play a big role in how your lighting will hold up in the elements.

The SPJ fixtures on are all UL ETL and IP wet-rated outdoor LED lighting fixtures. SHOP SPJ WET LISTED FIXTURES that will last.

Want the FREE full guide to quickly designing and choosing the right outdoor LED lighting system for your landscape? Download the entire FREE Step by Step "guerrilla" Guide. 

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