Outdoor spaces provide a great way to expand your home and enjoy nice weather with family and friends. You can add outdoor lighting to your patio, deck, or walkways to provide ambiance and give you added security by illuminating dark spaces.
You have many options when it comes to outdoor lighting, from path lights to outdoor wall lights and everything in between. As a rule of thumb, you should try to use outdoor bulbs whenever you can. You CAN use indoor bulbs in your outdoor spaces, although it does come with some safety concerns. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to use indoor lights in your outdoor spaces safely, so you have peace of mind that your home is protected.
Indoor vs. Outdoor Lights
Indoor and outdoor bulbs have the same purpose: to provide artificial lighting to dark spaces, but they can’t always be used interchangeably. While outdoor lights can be used both indoors and outdoors, indoor lights can’t always be used outdoors.
The main difference between indoor and outdoor lights is that outdoor lighting is designed to be water-resistant for wet spaces and impact-resistant in the case of inclement weather.
Can You Use Indoor Light Bulbs Outside?
You can use some indoor lights outside, but it depends on the type of light bulb you have. Light bulbs come with a UL rating that indicates where they can be used. These ratings are helpful in ensuring the safety of your home lighting setup.
Understanding UL Ratings
“UL” stands for Underwriters Laboratories, which is an independent organization that does safety testing to ensure that light fixtures are safe to use and won’t cause electrical issues. Light bulbs can be UL listed for dry, damp, and wet locations.
UL Listed for Dry Locations
Bulbs that are UL listed for dry locations should only be used in indoor spaces; they are not safe to use outdoors unless they are fully encased in a waterproof fixture. If your bulbs are UL listed for dry locations, you should only use them in spaces like living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, hallways, or closets.
UL Listed for Damp Locations
Bulbs that are UL listed for damp locations can be used in some outdoor spaces as long as they are fully covered and not directly exposed to water. For example, you may be able to use this type of light bulb in a ceiling fan of a covered patio. They can withstand some moisture, but aren’t suitable for very wet locations.
UL Listed for Wet Locations
Bulbs that are UL listed for wet locations can be used almost anywhere. If you have outdoor light fixtures that illuminate uncovered spaces, such as a driveway or landscaping, you should only use bulbs that are UL listed for wet locations since they’ll likely be exposed to rain at some point. Most outdoor lights are UL listed for wet locations.
Common Types of Light Bulbs
Light bulbs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types. Different bulbs produce different amounts of lumens with varying levels of energy efficiency, and only some are suitable for wet conditions.
Incandescent light bulbs are the traditional type of lighting used for indoor spaces. They use a wire filament sealed in a glass bulb that is heated by an electric current, causing it to give off light. They’re generally inexpensive but can waste electricity and lifespan compared to more efficient options like LED bulbs. Some incandescent light bulbs can be used outdoors for damp spaces, as long as they aren’t directly exposed to the elements. If you are using incandescent bulbs that are UL rated for dry locations, make sure they are fully covered and cannot be exposed to moisture.
LED light bulbs are energy-efficient lighting solutions that use Light-Emitting Diode (LED) technology. These bulbs produce more light per watt than traditional incandescent bulbs and have a much longer lifespan. LED lights are a popular light source for both outdoor and indoor lighting. There are a wide variety of outdoor-rated LED lights that are suitable for wet locations. This is a good option for tree lights, security lighting along the driveway, or other locations that will be exposed to rain. LED flood lights are often used in outdoor lighting design to cast a wide, bright beam of light over garage doors or other areas that need extra security.
Fluorescent bulbs generate ultraviolet light. Similarly to LED lights, they are highly efficient and cost less to operate than incandescent light bulbs due to their long life spans. These bright lights are generally not suitable for outdoor use because they are temperature sensitive. They may stop working if they are exposed to extremely cold weather.
How to Use Indoor Lights Outside
It’s important to have adequate light in your outdoor spaces in order to keep your home safe and illuminate outdoor spaces that you want to use at night. If you choose to use indoor lights outside, ensure they are completely covered or encased so they can’t be exposed to any moisture. If there is a chance that your light source may be exposed to moisture, make sure the bulb is UL listed for damp or wet locations.
Do not use fluorescent lights outdoors, as they may not work and could pose a safety threat.
Let Us Solve All Your Outdoor Lighting Needs!
At Premier Outdoor Lighting, we are experts in choosing the right artificial lighting sources for your outdoor spaces. We’ll help you find the right bulbs for each space and can help you design attractive and efficient lighting for your patio, driveway, or landscaping.
Stop by our showroom today to learn more about our outdoor lighting options. We can help you figure out whether or not you can use your indoor lights in your outdoor spaces.