I am in Montgomery County, Maryland and I had a contractor tell me it's against code to put a recessed light in my shower. The shower is 3' X 3' X 7'1" (3 foot by 3 foot and the height is 7 feet 1 inch).

Here are my questions:

  1. Can I put a recessed light with shower trim in that shower? (Everything I see says I can)

  2. Do I need a special high pressure light as it's under 8 feet tall? (And If so, what do I buy?)

  3. Any other code related questions that I should be aware of?

I researched it and put the light in and this contractor (who does this for a living) tells me an inspector would reject it, which I don't believe as recessed lights in showers are everywhere these days.

  • 1
    It is not hard to find inspectors who do not understand the electrical code as well as what local requirements may or may not be added. If the first inspector "fails" your installation, reschedule and hope for a different inspector.
    – wallyk
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 19:47

4 Answers 4


National Electrical Code is pretty clear on this, at least as of the 2014 version. It says that if the fixture is above the tub or shower, and within 8 ft. vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower threshold, the fixture must be rated for damp locations. If the fixture may be subject to shower spray, it has to be rated for wet locations.

If it were me, I'd install a fixture rated for wet locations, just to be on the safe side.

National Electrical Code 2014

Chapter 4 Equipment for General Use

Article 410 Luminaires, Lampholders, and Lamps

II. Luminaire Locations

410.10 Luminaires in Specific Locations.

(D) Bathtub and Shower Areas. No parts of cord-connected luminaires, chain-, cable-, or cord-suspended luminaires, lighting track, pendants, or ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans shall be located within a zone measured 900 mm (3 ft) horizontally and 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold. This zone is all encompassing and includes the space directly over the tub or shower stall. Luminaires located within the actual outside dimension of the bathtub or shower to a height of 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower threshold shall be marked for damp locations, or marked for wet locations where subject to shower spray.

NOTE: This code seems to go back as far as the 2008 version of NEC. So as long as your jurisdiction has adopted at least NEC 2008, you should be fine.

You should have no trouble finding fixtures; and/or trim, that is rated for wet locations. In almost all cases, the fixture or trim will be sealed to prevent water intrusion. A quick search through Home Depot's inventory, turned up this item for example.

6 in. White Recessed Lighting Reflector Shower Trim with Frosted Glass Lens

I'm sure you'll find them in all different styles, colors, and from many different manufacturers.


You should use a light rated for wet areas. Often times when you see an item that is CSA certified, it is for wet locations. See the following link for a great little light for new construction or remodel. It has great ratings also.



A more modern solution here involves can-less LED fixtures.

  1. No can and no energy loss.
  2. Rated for insulation contact in virtually all cases
  3. Often wet location rated
  • Thank you for that... Wow are those slick..They would be great for dark closets (and aren't they all?). if anyone is interested: 1000bulbs.com/product/209035/…
    – Dan B
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 19:04

I strongly advise double protection for any light fixture, fan or switch installed over or within 3' of a bathtub or shower, e.g., provide GFI protection as well. Remember code is only a minimum safety standard which manufacturers and builders substantially influence with a desire to keep costs down. Invariably, you want much better safety protection for yourself and family.

Be sure to also follow the section of NEC 410 that says "luminaires...shall be installed so that water cannot enter or accumulate in wiring compartments, lampholders or other electrical parts."

  • 1
    I merged your other answer into this one -- generally best to put things together in the same answer unless they're two clearly "either or" alternative solutions to the same problem :) Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 4:15
  • 1
    Also, the section of NEC 410 you're after is 410.10(A), by the way Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 4:17

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