Purchasing lights for your home or business does not have to be a complicated task, but it does require a little education. Have you ever noticed the UL Rating on a bulb and thought, “What does this even mean?” UL Ratings or Underwriters Laboratories Ratings, actually play a major role in how consumers should choose their light sources. The ratings help distinguish if your lamp can be used in dry, damp or wet locations. This is pretty vital information, as you wouldn’t want to make the mistake of placing a dry-rated lamp in a wet location. Here is a breakdown of UL Ratings and the best applications for various forms of lighting.
Underwriters Laboratories is an international organization dedicated to the safety certification of different businesses and services including consumer and workplace, life and health, environment, commercial and industrial and life and health. The company works independently in establishing regulations and standards for different products, from food and beverage to wireless communication. Though not all lamps are UL certified, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. sets standards for compliance and performance testing within the lighting industry.
UL Listed for Dry Locations
A “UL Listed” lamp that doesn’t specify a location is typically a lamp certified to be used indoors for dry locations. Usually, this information is identified on the box or container your lamp is purchased in. Under UL Listing it may read “yes” or “no.” Most often a simple “yes” means that the lamp is listed for dry locations. “No” means the lamp has not been tested by Underwriters Laboratories.
UL Listed lamps should not be exposed to overly wet locations, or a location that is often damp; however exposure to brief or temporary dampness does not pose a threat to the lamps. According to an article from Underwriters Laboratories Inc. entitled Lamps in the Damp, “Ventilation is often used to prevent an accumulation of moisture at the luminaire, but the proper amount of ventilation is critical in extracting the moisture from the area.” Knowing this, you may want to use a luminaire rated for dry locations in your kitchen or pantry. Other dry locations in your home include the dining room, living room, bedroom, office, hallway and foyer. It should also be noted that there are some luminaries rated for both dry and damp locations.
UL Listed for Damp Locations
Remember, using a dry location lamp in a consistently wet or damp area can damage the lamp. Lamps UL Listed for damp locations are labeled on the packaging as Suitable for Damp Locations. Areas that these lamps can be used are places which are regularly muggy or humid, or where water is prevalent such as a stove or in a bathroom. These lamps can be used indoors or outdoors. For instance, you could use a damp lamp inside a sauna or steam room because these areas are moist and the lights are not submerged in water. Damp location lamps could also be used in the bathroom near bathtubs and showers. It is recommended that when using these lamps you use water safe fixtures. The fixtures help protect the bulb from over exposure to water. As stated earlier lamps labeled Suitable for Damp Locations can be used outside. Appropriate areas include verandas, patios, and covered porches. Remember when using these lamps that they should not be in contact with direct water.
UL Listed for Wet Locations
Lamps UL Listed for Wet locations are labeled “Suitable for Wet Locations.” These particular types of lamps may be subject to saturation by water or other types of liquids. Wet location lamps have been tested for their durability when exposed to an intense amount of wetness. These lamps can come in direct contact with liquids that splash, drip, or even flow onto the light. Wet location lamps can be used indoors or out. They can also be used in place of damp location lamps. Some areas you may find these lamps are enclosed showers, open air decks, gazebos and outdoor walls. If you are using a wet location lamp outdoors, you may want to consider using an outdoor wall sconce or lighting fixture with it to help your light last longer.