LED Vapor Tight Strip Light

Vapor Tight vs. Watertight LED Light Fixtures

When you’re trying to choose the best LED lighting for a factory or other commercial property, the differences between watertight and vapor-tight lights need to be carefully considered. On the surface, the two may appear very similar, but we thought it would be useful to do a comparative overview to help you make the best choice. The difference may surprise you.


Grab your hot drink of choice and keep that water vapor well away from your keyboard as we dive into everything you need to know about vapor-tight vs. watertight LED light fixtures.


What are Watertight LED Lights?

Light fixtures need to be waterproof when installing them in areas like warehouses or any outside facilities. LED lights that are advertised as being watertight have been designed explicitly with resistance to water in mind.


For this reason, watertight LED lights are especially suitable for any outdoor environment, whether you’re in rainy Seattle or easy-breezy Los Angeles.


It is important to note that just because the LEd light fixture is watertight doesn’t mean you’re inhibited in design and materials. Watertight LED light fixtures can be any shape you can imagine and come in various sizes and materials, including:


  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Glass


The choice is yours and probably determined by the particular environment you need the LED light to withstand.


Example: This LITELUME floodlight is a medium-sized, high-performance LED solution specially designed for use outside. The high performance doesn’t mean you have to miss out on rugged, die-cast aluminum housing.


What are Vapor Tight LED Lights?


Vapor tight LED light fixtures are sometimes also referred to as wet location fixtures. They are specifically created with harsh weather conditions in mind. Perfect for illuminating areas both inside and outside that can be affected by water, humidity, and dust. Your garage is a good example!


Most vapor-tight LED lights have an outer shell made of either polyurethane or fiberglass. In turn, this outer layer is lined with a complete metal fixture for extra protection.


Key Differences Between Vapor Tight and Watertight LED Lights


  • Watertight light fixtures are designed to handle water, while vapor-tight lights can merely prevent dirt and vapor from getting into the fixture.


  • Do you want to know a little secret of the trade? Frequently these types of LED lighting are virtually the same but marketed differently. The best way to tell whether or not a light fixture is suitable for a wet environment is to ignore the marketing language and look at the IP rating.


Ingress Protection Explained


When looking for a watertight or vapor-tight LED light, you need to look at the IP (Ingress Protection) rating. An IP rating gives you two essential bits of information about the functionality of the lights:


  • how much the enclosure protects people from any moving parts inside
  • how protected the equipment is from foreign bodies, including dust
  • the protection level from moisture such as drips, sprays, and full-on submersion


The IP rating is made up of two digits and the first refers to intrusion protection, and the second refers to moisture protection.


  • Intrusion Protection: rated from 0(sometimes marked by an X), meaning no special protection, to 6, meaning dust-tight.


  • Moisture Protection: rated from 0 (sometimes marked by an X), meaning no protection from moisture to 9, meaning protection from high-pressure, high-temperature jet sprays and spray cleaning.


Real-World Example: LITELUME’s Floodlight is IP65 rated. From what we’ve just learned, this means it is dust-tight (6) and protected against low-pressure jets from any angle (5). That makes these floodlights perfect for parking lots, auto dealerships, billboards, and general outdoor lighting.


Areas to That Need Water Resistant LEDs


Whichever name you want to give your watertight LED light fixture of choice, you need them in the following places:


  • Garages: whether you use a garage to park cars or do workshop work, you need it to withstand dust and moisture.


  • Spas: these hallowed halls of relaxation have water splattering everywhere, and clients and spa workers alike need to be kept safe.


  • Car Washes: take everything we said about the garage and multiply it by 100. There are jet streams and hot soapy water every which way.


  • Parking Lots: exposed to the elements and need some illumination to ensure safety from the elements. Keep yourself from getting sued in case Mrs. Richardson taxes a tumble on your dark parking lot late at night in February.


  • Refrigerators: constantly exposed to cold air as well as high humidity. Any freezer and refrigerator LED lights need to be unaffected by water and moisture. Naturally, this is also the case for big, industrial walk-in freezers.


  • Pools: those beautiful lights when you dive underwater are a sight to behold, but they have to be safe when they’re surrounded by water and splashing kids.


Tldr; Vapor Tight and Watertight LEDs


Many places on the world wide web will tell you that there are many differences between the two, but the fact is that these two terms are often used interchangeably to make decision-making easier for consumers. Unfortunately, that often leads to even more confusion. When deciding which energy-saving LED lights to use in wet or humid environments: always check that IP rating!




Thankfully, you’re not alone in making decisions about the LED needs of your business or home.


If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team. They are happy to help with any confusion or to help plan out your lighting needs. LITELUME are the experts in lighting, so you don’t have to be.


We have been an American-based manufacturing expert for commercial and industrial LED lighting fixtures for over 25 years. Couple that level of experience with our competitive 10-year warranty, and you get a partner in lighting for life.


Check out our diverse product portfolio and explore some of the newest technology on the market.


Curious why electricians and general contractors prefer LED light fixtures over other forms of lighting? We’ve got just the article for you here.






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