For special applications, corrosion resistant light fixtures can be a safer choice.
Why Corrosion Resistant Light Fixtures?
In areas where there is high humidity, excess moisture or acidic conditions, the metal parts inside light fixtures can begin to oxidize, reducing the life of the fixture and creating a safety hazard.
Specialty fixtures made to address these problems are designed with two main features that are somewhat different from standard fixtures. They are typically made of more moisture resistant materials, like polycarbonate or glass that takes the place of some of what would typically be metal parts in standard fixtures, like metal housings, clips and screws. The finishes are often different too, using baked on glazes, specialty paints and other non-corrosive materials. Corrosion resistant light fixtures will also usually have gaskets, or plastic sealing rings, around the exterior sections of the housing, both at the light and cord ends, designed to keep moisture out. They usually include non-corrosive hardware as part of the assembly too. If you're not sure, ask before you buy.
The nice thing about these features is that they make light fixtures safer, but they can also make them more expensive. You can find corrosion resistant fixtures for most applications and for use with fluorescent, incandescent and other types of bulbs. The technology is also designed for heavy duty use, like in commercial kitchens where fixtures are constantly exposed to steam and spray.
Check the Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) independent lab listing for the light you have in mind to determine if it is rugged enough for your needs.
- UL Wet Designation - A "UL Wet" designation means that the fixture is rated for water falling on or getting into the light fixture itself. These fixtures are typically used for outdoor applications or for indoor areas, like greenhouses, where droplets of water regularly come in contact with the light assembly. If your deck or patio has a protective overhang, you probably don't need this type of fixture.
- A "UL Damp" Designation - Designed for electrical fixtures that are installed in moist areas but have a protective covering, a UL Damp designation light fixture should be installed in outdoor areas that have roof protection or protective hoods. These are most appropriate for porches, covered decks, patios and outdoor security lighting. In certain circumstances, they may also be appropriate for indoor areas that experience a lot of humidity, like a lanai with lots of plants, near an indoor water feature, or in a laundry room that has poor ventilation.
Because electricity is nothing to fool around with, make sure to ask a lighting professional if you have a question about whether or not you should be installing a wet or damp rated light fixture. Typically they are necessary for bathrooms, but if you have young children who splash water around when they're in the kitchen, or have a part time bakery business in your home and do a lot of heavy duty scullery work, you may fit into a grey area where a specialty fixture could be the safest choice for. If you would like additional functionality for your lighting needs, wet and damp rated ceiling fans are available too.