'Damp' rating for bathroom lights

olychicOctober 29, 2009

I found 2 other postings about this which seem to contradict each other. Hoping for clarification and advice. Found my dream vanity bar. It's approved for damp locations. There is a matching sconce and I want to put a pair on the wall spaces between the windows; however, it is only approved for dry locations, which the website says does not include baths. The room is pretty big: 11.5 x 19 with a little less than 1/2 a walk-in closet, but it is a fairly open design. Installing Fantek dual unit: one over jetted tub, one in shower, so this room should NOT really be too damp. I will be the sole user, so the shower and tub will never be in use simultaneously. One sconce would be only a foot out from edge of tub and maybe 5 feet above it. I don't understand what could happen with a fixture used where not rated for damp. Is electrocution somehow a worry? Or will the wires simply corrode more than a damp rated one? Just what should I worry about? Is there any way to damp-proof the sconce? Or should I just use it and plan on replacing sooner than I would have to a damp rated one? Or skip it and figure someone smarter than me figured this out already, hence the damp location ratings? Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Damp rated is for ANY location that will have, at one point or another in the life of the fixture, some amount of moisture. The intent of a bathroom which contains a shower or tub is for those items to be used and thus moisture to be in the air. It does not matter if you never use them.
These fixtures are specifically manufactured for that environment. They may contain a gasket that seals all electrical components, etc.. A fixture that is not damp rated is not manufactured as such.
Yes, there is a possibility of electrocution should one install a fixture that is not damp rated in a bathroom. You cannot damp proof a fixture yourself, only the manufacturer with the help of Underwriters Laboratory(lots of money!!) can do this. However once you tamper with the fixture it automatically voids the warranty.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 12:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you!! You clarified the issue; I just didn't know if it could be dangerous or if it was simply a situation that would shorten the life of the fixture by being exposed to damp. I'll keep searching for dream fixtures that are rated for use in my space.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 4:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is no requirement for light fixtures in a bathroom to be rated "damp" or "wet" rated.Only if the fixture is installed near the tub or in a shower stall is there a requirement for "damp" rating.
The vast majority of wall mounted decorative fixtures on the market today by all the top manufacturers do not carry "damp" ratings.
"Wet location rating is only required when the fixture may receive direct water spray, such as on the wall of a shower or in a car wash area.
Ceiling mounted shower lights need only carry a "damp"
location label.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh my gosh normclc; now I am thoroughly confused again. Especially because the vanity light I want is rated for "damp location". I would assume a vanity light bar would never be located too near a shower or tub since there is usually a countertop of some length on either side of the light. If a vanity light is not required to be "damp" rated, when the bathroom sink is 3 to 4 feet below it, would a sconce that is 4 feet above the top of the water level in a tub without a shower also not need to be "damp" rated? The great reason for my confusion is the matching sconce to the vanity light I want to use is "dry" rated according to one website selling them. It would be used on an 8" piece of wall between windows in the bath. It would be about 4 feet above the fill level of the tub, but only 1 foot outside the tub surround. There is NO WAY water could splash on it. I see you are with a lighting fixture company. Would you sell these fixtures for a bathroom as I described? Here is a link to the vanity light I'll post another with the sconce info. Also, I've looked at lots of websites and only this one actually shows a rating for either product. Thanks for trying to help me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cyan 5 light bar

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 11:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the dry rated sconce I want to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Matching Cyan sconce rated dry location

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 11:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I realize that there is confusion in this area.
Most of the time, for the situation that you describe , with the fixture above the tub,electrical codes would require a ground fault interrupter(GIF)circuit breaker for protection.
The only place we see "damp location" rated products in the bathroom is for installation in the shower area.
Check the "web" for definition of "wet" or "damp" ratings.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 10:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, I had looked at the linked info from UL as well as the UL webpage. It just looks like if it isn't rated for damp locations it shouldn't be in a bathroom because of condensation. I appreciate your help in educating me.

Here is a link that might be useful: UL info for Damp locations

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 2:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For areas using the NEC, the code lets the fixture manufacturer specify the need for GFCI with their fixture. Typically only fans and fan/lights require GFCIs in the installation instructions for shower areas.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 4:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, dim4fun. That helps with some of my confusion about all this.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 6:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Track lights, pull chain devices, cord-attached suspended lights, pendant fixtures, and paddle fans cannot be placed in a zone 8 ft above a tub rim or shower curb and 3 ft horizontally beyond the tub/shower. This does not apply to recessed or surface-mounted fixtures, switches, or receptacles although any required ground fault protection should have already been provided by your electrician.

Fixtures allowed in the bathtub/shower zone must be listed for "damp locations" and if they are going to be subject to shower spray, they must be listed for "wet locations".

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 6:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Standard switches, receptacles, and fixtures are not allowed within the wet area of a shower or tub.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 6:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you so much macy. That is EXACTLY the info I needed. It is still confusing that a manufacturer would rate a vanity bar for damp location (I assumed that meant simply for a bath) and have a matching sconce rated for a dry location. I gave up trying to get an answer to why and if they were okay to use and picked some that are both damp rated. (even though now your info makes it look like I could have used my dream fixtures). I appreciate you taking the time to answer.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 12:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

So much information! If the fixture is not going into a wet area and is properly installed on a GFI circuit, you can use any fixture you want at a vanity. Vanity fixtures are not subject to excessive moisture unless you have a vanity in a sauna.......Some manufacturers choose to ask for a damp rating on their vanity lights as a selling feature. Showers & saunas require Wet rated fixtures. You should have no issues with a dry rated fixture in a normal vainty area.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2009 at 9:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

More confusion. Dim4fun says gfi is only required in shower for light and/or fan. Do all bath fixtures require gfi as it seems ginger light is saying? Omigosh, I am just going to use candles. :-]

Maybe this isn't as confusing as it appears- perhaps I am not reading posts correctly, but it seems like everyone is contradicting each other. In a bathroom, where water is not going to touch a fixture, as in the vanity area or a sconce on a wall not close to a shower, is any fixture regardless of rating okay to use??? Are ratings totally voluntary as it seems gingerlight is saying? Is dampness from normal shower activity, i.e. steam or condensation, not a problem for fixtures rated for use in dry area? I really have considered looking just at outdoor fixtures, so I know they can be used near the tub (where there is no shower and the closest to the water they will be is 4 ft above water line and 1.5 ft away from edge of tub (4 ft below). Or can I use a dry rated fixture there? Anyone?


Your "dense" rated sister!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2009 at 7:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is the most simple answer I can give based on NEC 410.11(D)

The bathtub/shower area is considered a damp location within a box measuring 8' above the tub/shower rim and 3' to the side. If the water spray can hit the fixture it must be wet location listed. Normally a fixture in a typically sized shower is going to called wet location by inspectors. GFCI protection is not required unless the fixture manufacturer's installation instructions call for it as is the case with every fan or fan/light I've ever seen. Your local "authority having jurisdiction" over these matters may have their own interpretation and can modify the code as they see fit.

Your fixture is inside the damp zone. You must read the instructions from the manufacture to know if it needs GFCI. If in doubt it is best to exceed safety rules as the code is the minimum and is not intended to be a design guide.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 12:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dim4fun, that is so simple and easy for me to understand -finally! I switched out the sconce nearest the tub for a pendant, hoping it will meet code. I am assuming my electrician will install GFCI if needed there. I agree, I'd rather pay a little more and exceed code in order to be totally safe. Again, thanks for persisting with me. I hope it helps other confused homeowners.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 10:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Call the manufacturer of your light fixture. I called mine and sadly for me was told: "If the light is rated dry, Do Not install it in a bathroom with a tub/shower--too much moisture."

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 6:37PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Pendant light shades
Hi! New to the forum- don't know what took me so many...
Legacy Debut Kitchen Cabinet -designer construction
Hi, Does anyone have any feedback on this cabinet...
Lisa Smith
Retrofitting off-sized recessed lighting with LEDs-Help?
We are renovating our just-purchased apartment and...
Need help identifying chandelier
Hello, I recently saw a chandelier that I really liked,...
Transitional design lighting
Should light fixtures "match" in transitional...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™