How can I determine whether a recessed light fixture is rated for use outdoors? I understand local codes will have a say, but I'm looking for a general purpose answer.

I have a covered, wrap-around porch on my house that I would like to install recessed lighting in. I would assume this is considered a wet location. The wiring is already there as there are two outdoor ceiling fans, so I'm mostly concerned with understanding what sort of specs are required of the actual fixture.

For example: I see this sort of fixture which is labeled as "in damp locations" but does not explicitly call out outdoors/exterior. Conversely I see this fixture which is marked for exterior use, but there is no specific rating that I see.

I guess a related question is whether or not I'm just looking in the wrong place and need to go to a specialty store for this sort of thing?

Edit: This is one side of the porch.

Back of porch


A damp location is defined in the National Electric Code (NEC) as an outdoor location protected from driving rain. The underside of outdoor porches, breezeways, and the like are typically considered damp locations. Wet locations are those unprotected from driving rain, splashing or sprayed water, such as car-wash rooms.

It sounds like you are referring to a damp location.

Also, by outdoor porch, I do not mean a little, postage-stamp sized awning over a landing-sized stoop, as is sometimes seen in low-cost tract housing. The rule is common sense: can driving or blown rain reach the location? If so, then wet; if not, but outdoors, then damp.

The first fixture you link is fine, as it specifies "damp". The second one probably is, as it us described as for indoor or outdoor. If you physically looked at it, it probably have the words "for damp location" embossed on the frame. If not, as a licensed electrician, I would hesitate using it. The code stated that these words are required. If it doesn't say damp or wet, then it's dry only. Also, "for wet" is acceptable for damp locations.

  • 1
    I've added a picture for reference. I don't think it qualifies as little.
    – Steve
    Feb 16 '17 at 18:47

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