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Wet Location vs Underwater Lighting

Wet Location vs Underwater Lighting

Lighting projects can be confusing at times, especially when it comes to what is safe to use outdoors and what isn’t. The general misconception is that if it’s rated for wet locations then it can be used in pools. While there are plenty of fixtures that can be used around your pool, total submersion in the pool (or any water for that matter) is a different story entirely. In this post, we will take a look at what lights or fixtures can be used underwater and which ratings you need.

Wet Location vs IP Rating


Wet location means that a bulb or fixture can be used in an area where water will come into contact with it.  Fixtures that are wet rated can be used in garages, barns, porches, and other areas. Read about other places you might not know require a wet location in this article. While these fixtures are designed to handle rain and water drips, they are not sealed enough to be used in water. For water submersion, you will need to look for products that have specific IP ratings.

Unlike wet location ratings, IP ratings provide more levels of distinction. Composed of two numbers, IP ratings tell you how much protection a fixture has against solid objects and water entry. The first number covers objects like fingers and dust, while the second covers water. For applications in or near water, there are three ratings that you need to look for:

  • IP68 is for full, permanent submersion in water up to 13 feet.

  • IP67 is for temporary submersion in up to 3 feet of water for no longer than 30 minutes.

  • IP65 protects against water jets at any angle.

For any lighting project that will be permanently installed in water, it is highly recommended that you use products with an IP68 rating for your safety. It is not recommend using IP67 rated products since they are only for temporary submersion. IP65 ratings will be most commonly used for general outdoor applications such as area lights used in parking lots.

What Kinds of Fixtures Have These Ratings and Where Can I Use Them?


Products that are fully waterproof include underwater lights and waterproof tape light. For example, our waterproof tape light has an IP68 rating that allows it to be used on decks and patios, or in pools and fountains. In order to maintain its rating, waterproof tape light should not be cut. It is designed with a hermetic seal to prevent water or moisture from seeping into the circuitry. Cutting the tape light will void that protection. You also need to make sure that any connector cables you use are waterproof as well.

Lighting Tip: Many small LED drivers that you could use with waterproof tape light are unlikely to be rated above IP65. If your tape light is part of a large lighting landscape, contain your driver in weatherproof casing or use larger, outdoor-rated LED drivers; they should always have weatherproof casing.


Fixtures with IP65 ratings are numerous. A familiar one that you may have in your garage or workshop is a vapor tight fixture. Recognizable by their latches, vapor tight fixtures can also be used in parking garages, spa rooms, stairwells, and car washes. Flood light fixtures are available in different ratings depending on the application locations. Wet location rated flood lights can be used for mounting directly to wall, and those with IP65 ratings can be used as part of landscape lighting.

Landscape lighting such as pathway lights and bullets will have a wet location rating. LED security light fixtures will also have a wet location rating since they are designed for mounting to wall or under eaves. Rope light is also listed for use in wet locations as long as it is uncut. Like waterproof tape light, the rating is voided once its cut. However, rope light can be resealed with shrink tubes and silicone glue to protect connections against water. Rope light can be used outdoors to light walkways, flower beds, decks, and patios.

Unsure what rating your fixture has? Speak with one of our knowledgeable lighting experts at 1-800-624-4488 or leave us a comment below. Follow our Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest pages to find more great lighting tips.

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