LED rope lights are very popular these days thanks to their amazing versatility. They can be used in a wide variety of lighting projects due to their flexibility to create various designs. They also keep the running costs low due to their lower power consumption. But, can they withstand the various elements outside?
Can rope lights get wet and are they submersible? Yes, rope lights can be used in wet locations but they won’t work if you submerge them completely underwater if they aren’t specifically designed to do so. Their ability to handle water will depend on their IP rating.
There are different types of submersible rope lights out there today with each one having a certain amount of resistance against water. They all come with a designated IP rating, which you can check to see how much water they can withstand.
There is a difference after all between being able to use lights in wet locations and having them work while completely submerged in water. Let’s take a look at the difference.
Can Rope Lights Get Wet and Are They Submersible?
There are two instances in which you can judge the water-resistance of a product. One is how it fares in a wet location and the other is when the product is submerged in water. A wet location is defined as a place where there is enough water to partially or fully submerge the item.
Any light fixture that is used in garages, barns, and other places where it can come in contact with water will be considered to be in a wet location. These products usually come with a wet location rating that explains how much water contact it can handle.
A lot of light fixtures today are designed to be able to handle rain and water drips but only a few can be fully submerged in water. To know if the light can be used underwater, you need to look at its IP rating.
The IP rating can help you to understand two things. The first one is how much resistance it has against solid elements such as dust and the other pertains to water resistance. There are three main IP ratings used to determine this and they are IP68, IP67, and IP65.
- IP68 – This means that the item in question can be fully submerged in water up to 13 feet and still work.
- IP67 – This means that the product can be submerged in water but only up to 3 feet. It can also only be used underwater for less than 30 minutes at a time.
- IP65 – This rating displays that the product can handle water jets from every angle.
So, lights that come with an IP65 rating are ideal for outdoor use where they may be exposed to rain and water drips whereas ones with an IP68 rating can work underwater.
Products with a rating of IP67 are not used commonly unless it is for a specific purpose as they have only temporary resistance to water. It is important to note that most rope lights are water-resistant and not fully waterproof. So, even if you see the term “waterproof” in the product description, it might get damaged when submerged in water.
Always check for the IP rating before you buy one. Most of them can work in wet locations though so you can buy the ones that say waterproof if you plan to use them outside on the pathway, on your roof, or for landscape lighting.
How Rope Lights are Designed
To understand more about how a rope light can be waterproof, it is important to know how it works. With this basic knowledge, you will be able to understand when and when not to use rope lights.
A rope light consists of a series of LEDs placed one after the other along with a set of inner wires. These lights also use a sectional construction so that when some sections stop working, the other parts will function based on the extent of the damage.
Rope lights can also be cut between sections at the cut points marked on them. Cut them at the marked section, otherwise, they will get damaged.
LED rope lights come with an inline rectifier integrated into the power cord and a power connector that attaches the cord to the light. At the other end, they have an end cap which helps to protect the inside from dust and debris.
You must secure the end cap before turning on the light. Due to their design style, water can easily damage the lights if they don’t have any water resistance.
So, always look for rope lights with an IP65 rating if you want to use them outside or an IP68 rating if the lights will be submerged in water within a maximum depth of 13 feet.
How to Efficiently Protect Your Rope Light Against Water?
Rope lights that come with an IP65 rating can be used for outdoor decorative lighting but only if they aren’t cut. Similar to water-resistant tape light, cutting the rope eliminates the protection against water. However, in the case of rope lights, you can always seal them with shrink tubes and silicone glue to protect them from water.
But it’s not just the lights themselves that you need to be concerned about when using them outdoors. You also have to ensure that your extension cord, end caps, and connections are protected properly as well. One way to do that is to use a waterproof PVC silicone sealant.
Here is how you can do it:
- Take a small amount of the sealant and put it on the inside of the connector.
- Slide the light in place and put some sealant along the outside rim This will help to seal the connection.
- Make sure the end caps are properly secured by using the sealant on them as well.
- Prevent the metal pins in the light from being corroded by using dielectric grease on them before you put them in the rope light.
Doing the above for rope lights that have good water resistance will drastically reduce any risk of the lights being damaged over time.
If you need rope lights that can be submerged in water, always look for ones that come with an IP68 rating. They will be more expensive than the other two types, but they will also be safer and provide you with a greater value over a long time.
Rope lights come with many different features and amazing versatility but not all of them can withstand water. Some of them can handle water in small amounts whereas others can be fully submerged in water.
By checking their IP rating, you will know how much water it can handle. Also, keep an eye on customer reviews online to know if the product you have is as effective as the manufacturers claim it to be.