What is a Wet Location Rating in Lighting?
As a business owner, you will definitely want to optimize your investment in your lighting infrastructure. This means that the lights you choose not only need to exactly suit your business needs but should also last long and be cost-efficient. The operational efficiency and longevity of a light bulb depends on a host of factors; it is not always a wise idea to buy the most expensive one in the market.
For instance, the longevity of light bulbs depends to a large extent on where they have been installed. Certain operational conditions are harsh on specific types of light bulbs. This is especially true of humid areas and locations where the lighting fixtures are exposed to a lot of water. That is why, as a business owner who wants to optimize his infrastructural resources, you should buy light bulbs that have been specially manufactured for wet locations.
Before learning about the various types of lighting devices that are suitable for installation in wet locations, you should know more about the features of such areas. This knowledge will help you determine which areas in your business premises will need to be fitted with these specially-manufactured bulbs.
What are Wet Locations?
A wet location may be a spot inside your business premises or may be a region outdoors. This is a spot where the installed lighting devices are continuously exposed to water or any other liquid. The liquid may splash, drip, or flow on the lighting devices and damage the electrical components of the fixture. The typical wet locations within a facility include the exterior walls of the building, stairwells, uncovered garages, driveways and walkways, and uncovered porches. The lighting fixtures in these areas are exposed to the elements, like rain, hail, sleet, and snow.
There may also be wet locations in certain manufacturing and production areas where a lot of steam may be generated. Certain areas of the washroom inside the business premises may also be designated as wet locations. The lighting fixtures in these areas should be manufactured as per accepted safety and operational regulations so that the electrical components remain protected from water. Continuous exposure to water not only lessens the lifespan and operational efficiency of light bulbs but may also turn the lighting device into a potential fire hazard.
Lighting Devices for Wet Locations
In the United States, the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) tests and rates light bulbs to facilitate their correct and safe usage. The UL rates lighting devices for their usage in wet locations. Usually the wires in a wet rated lighting device are encased within its metal parts to protect them from water and humidity and reduce the danger of fires. These bulbs are so built as to prevent the accumulation of water on its live parts, conductors, and electrical components that have not been designed to withstand humidity and moisture.
However, before choosing a lighting device for a wet location, you will need to know about the various lighting “zones” and the “IP” (Ingress Protection) ratings of lighting devices.
Classification of Wet Locations into Zones
Lighting areas have been classified into zones to help business owners easily understand the differences between wet zones within their commercial property and determine what kind of lighting fixtures they would need for specific areas. For ease of understanding, these “zones” have been explained in the context of a typical bathroom.
Zone 0 refers to areas like inside the bath or the shower where a lighting device is exposed to the maximum amount of water. Low voltage and immersion-proof light bulbs should be installed in these areas.
Zone 1 refers to areas like just above the bath up to about 2.25 meters from the floor. These areas tend to remain wet a long time after an individual has used the space. Besides, lighting devices in these areas may be exposed to occasional splashes of water.
Zone 2 refers to areas at a distance of about 0.6 meters from the bath and at a height of about 2.25 meters from the floor. The area around the wash basin and more specifically, within a perimeter of 60cm is also considered to lie within Zone 2.
IP Ratings of Lighting Devices
IP ratings of light bulbs refer to an international classification system used to rate lighting devices based on how well its various electrical components are protected from exposure to foreign elements (like dust, fingers, and tools) and moisture. Your choice of an IP-rated bulb depends on the particular zone within your property’s location where you want to install the particular lighting device. IP65, IP66, and IP67 light bulbs are designed to be used in wet locations.
The first digit of the IP number indicates the amount of protection that the electrical components of the device have against intrusion from solid foreign particles, like dust. The IP65, IP66, and IP67 light bulbs are protected from dust, as indicated by the number 6 in their codes.
The second digit in the IP number indicates the amount of protection that the electrical components of the lighting device have against moisture. IP65 bulbs are protected from water that may have been sprayed from a device with a nozzle. IP66 bulbs are protected from powerful jets or heavy seas of water. Lighting devices that will be installed in zone 1 should be rated IP65. IP67 bulbs are immersion-proof and should be installed in zone 0 areas.
The above-mentioned pieces of information will help you buy the right lighting device for the wet locations that these lights will be exposed to and thus optimize your investment.