Can You Use Indoor LED Flood Lights Outdoor?

With technological advancements in the lighting industry, you would expect that floodlights would be designed to work in both conditions.

Unfortunately, that is not usually the case. What are the differences between indoor and outdoor lights, why do they matter? Today I will look at the answers to that question and more.

Apart from LED lights, there are four other essential types of flood light bulbs. They are sodium vapor, halogen, incandescent, and fluorescent flood light bulbs.

They are designed with different weather tolerance levels. These variations determine whether a particular type of floodlight is meant for indoor or outdoor use.

Outdoor LED floodlights are usually designed to handle extreme weather conditions. If you use indoor flood lights outdoors, there is a high risk of moisture leaking into them, causing them to shorten the circuit.

For further explanations on why you shouldn’t use indoor flood lights outdoors. Or what precautions to take if you have to use an indoor floodlight outside. Let’s go!

What Is The Difference Between Indoor And Outdoor Flood Light?

So, what exactly are the differences between indoor and outdoor flood lights?

Well, the major difference is the UL rating. Lighting fixtures are usually tested and rated by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Floodlights with a “UL listed” tag are only suitable for dry indoor locations. These kinds of bulbs can only be used in places like bedrooms and living rooms. Generally, in these areas, they won’t be exposed to moisture.

The label “suitable for damp locations” on a floodlight bulb means it is suitable for use in damp locations.

Floodlights labeled “suitable for wet locations” are entirely suitable for outdoor use.

You would think, what is the difference between wet and wet, right?

Well, you might be wrong. Let’s have a closer look.

Damp locations are areas that are routinely subjected to moisture condensation. They could be indoor, for example, bathrooms, indoor pools, or outdoor covered patios and porches.

On the other hand, wet locations are outdoor areas directly exposed to rainfall and snow. They include garden lamp posts and outdoor wall sconces.

The main difference is that lights meant for outdoor use are sealed better than indoor use lights.

The international IP code rates bulbs based on their sealing effectiveness and level of protection from water, dust, and other impurities.

For damp locations, bulbs only need to be rated at least IP44. For outdoor use, they must be rated IP65, IP66 or IP67.

Can You Use The Indoor Flood Light Outside?

Right off the bat, I will tell you that you cannot use indoor flood lights outside.

Legally speaking, some local authorities do not even allow residents to use indoor lights outdoors. Apart from that, the risk of causing an electrical fire is significant.

Indoor lights are not built to withstand the weather outside, which is the main reason for that.

There is a huge chance of them allowing moisture to seep in. The humidity will cause a short, which can lead to a fire.

You have to read instructions on the packages to find their IP ratings for all classes of floodlights.

Unless bulb is rated IP65 at least, they can not be used outdoors, especially in direct exposure to weather.

Main Watchouts When Using Indoor Flood Bulbs Outside

I am still trying to find a reason why you would use indoor lights outside. But if you have to, at least follow the advice below.

There are a few things you can watch out for to make it less dangerous.

First of all, try to protect the bulb location, so it is not directly exposed to rain or snow.

Most indoor bulbs can handle damp conditions on a covered balcony. They will fall apart if used in completely open locations, like lampposts in the garden.

Secondly, check that the bulb is rated for the outlet’s voltage.

The bulb must be exactly rated for the outlet, not lower or higher. Putting a lower-rated bulb will destroy the bulb.

Putting a 100W bulb in a 70W outlet will cause overheating in the wiring, damaging its insulation.

What would be really annoying is if you go through all that hassle to find out that the bulb is not bright enough for the purpose.

The thing is, outdoor lighting is usually installed to scare away wildlife and potential criminals. It defeats the purpose if the bulb is just not bright enough.

You should also know that if you are not going to be using LED floodlights but plan to use fluorescent bulbs.

They might sometimes take up to 3 minutes to reach their full brightness potential. This is an obvious problem if you are going to be using it with a motion sensor. LED lights have no such issues.

Another big problem can be exposed wiring.

Use weatherproof, non-conducting accessories to mount your wiring. Apart from being general good practice, it could also help to mitigate the risk of electrical fires.

On the occasion where the outlet’s intended location is not covered, you can buy a cover for it. In-use weather-resistant covers (Amazon) are very cheap to buy.

Flammable materials around the bulb can be trouble. If the bulb catches fire, it will be easier to control the situation without any combustible material aggravating it.

Don’t forget that your outdoor wiring must be connected to a GFCI. The GFCI is a fast-acting circuit breaker that shuts off electric power in a ground-fault event within as little as 1/40 of a second.

They can also help prevent fires if a short occurs in the circuit.

Related: Can Solar Lights Be Powered By LEDs?

Final Words

In a nutshell, you should avoid using indoor LED lights outside. The risk of electric fires is just too great.

However, if you have to use them, use indoor bulbs with thick glass. Of all the types of bulbs, LED lights are the most suitable for outdoor use.

They are set in thick glass and shine quite brightly.

Aside from that, they use electricity efficiently and last significantly longer than other types of bulbs. They usually last around 20 times longer than halogen bulbs.

What experiences have you had with your outdoor lighting? Do you know any tips that I might have missed in this article?

Please, share them in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you.