The Difference Between Indoor Lighting and Outdoor Lighting Products


When getting replacements for damaged lights, you must consider the location where the light would be used – indoors or outdoors. The design and functionality of these lights differ depending on where you choose to install them, and using them interchangeably isn’t always safe. 

However, some lighting options, like LED lights, are versatile. They remain durable and functional, regardless of where you decide to use them, and are energy efficient, too. 

So, before you make that purchase, you must know which lighting options are suitable for indoor, outdoor, or both use. In this article, we’ll highlight the differences between indoor and outdoor lighting products so you have the right knowledge to make informed decisions when it’s time to get a replacement bulb.

  • Functionality and Aesthetic

The primary function of indoor lights is to add to the appeal of the room they’re installed in. While they still provide the required illumination for you to perform your daily tasks, the main focus of indoor lighting is to give your room the right ambiance and match the interior of whatever space they are installed in. Chandeliers, lamps, and pendant lights are not just light sources but also an integral part of interior and architectural design.

Outdoor lights, on the other hand, focus less on the aesthetics and more on the functionality. Most outdoor lights function as security lights to deter intruders. In some settings, they can be used to achieve a certain look or as part of the architectural design. However, their primary function is illumination. They are usually installed to provide enough visibility in dark areas.

  • Design and Durability

The design of indoor lighting products is varied. Different materials can be used to create them, as their primary function is to complete the interior design. Materials like glass, wood, and other fabrics can be used for indoor lighting fixtures. Since their primary function is added aesthetics, they usually come with controllers that help you dim the light or change the saturation to improve ambiance.

For outdoor lights, durability is the priority. These lights are out all day regardless of the weather conditions, so they are built to be more sturdy and are usually minimalistic. Aluminum, stainless steel, and other durable metal materials are used to prevent quick damage, especially during wet seasons. With outdoor lights, there aren’t usually any knobs or controllers to dim the lights either. They are installed for security and visibility, so they’re only designed to be as bright as can be.

  • UL Rating

The approved standard for checking whether a lighting product is designed for indoor or outdoor use is the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Rating. Most lighting products are tested and rated by Underwriters Laboratories; hence, their rating determines the locations in which they can be used.

Indoor lighting fixtures do not have the capacity to resist harsh weather conditions, especially moisture, so they are typically UL-listed for dry locations. However, outdoor lighting products are often UL-listed for wet or damp locations. Outdoor lights are held to a higher standard because they are typically exposed to wet or damp environments. So, they have to be water-resistant and weather-proof for your safety. Here are the UL Ratings of lighting fixtures and the approved locations for their use:

  • Dry Locations

Lighting products for dry locations have the label “UL Listed” on them. They can be used in dry areas like living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, and, in some cases, bathrooms.

  • Damp Locations

The label for lighting that can be used in these locations is “Suitable for Damp Locations”. Sometimes, it has the label “Suitable for Wet Locations”. They are typically used over showers, bathtubs, utility rooms, laundry rooms, or indoor pool areas.

  • Wet Locations

The label for lighting products that can be used in wet locations is “Suitable for Wet Locations” on these lighting fixtures. They can be used for both wet outdoor and indoor locations like an open patio, open-air decks, dining area, walkway lights, wall packs, gazebos, and signs.

  • Installation and Maintenance 

The installation and maintenance process of indoor lighting fixtures is a lot easier. However, the placement and wiring still need to be properly considered for safe installation and use. For maintenance, all you have to do is change damaged bulbs or clean the fixture with a clean and dry microfiber cloth. 

For outdoor lighting fixtures, the installation and maintenance are more complex. The fixture is sealed properly to avoid electrical hazards that may be caused by water ingress. Outdoor lighting fixtures are also adequately mounted so they can withstand heavy wind and other harsh weather conditions. The maintenance of these fixtures also needs to be frequent, as they are outdoors and get exposed to dirt and debris more often. To keep them at optimal function, you’d have to do routine checks and clean them often.


Choosing the right light for the right environment is the best way to keep all lighting fixtures functional and aesthetically pleasing. Ensure that you get high-quality lighting products from a trusted supplier to avoid future troubles.

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