Fire Rated Downlights
What Are Fire Rated Downlights?
Fire rated downlights help to prevent the spread of fire and minimise the risk of structural damage/collapse.
When a recessed downlight is installed, a hole is cut into the ceiling. This hole reduces the ceiling’s natural ability to act as a barrier. Fire rated downlights are used to restore the natural fire integrity of a ceiling.
In the event of a fire, the intumescent material in a fire rated downlight melts or swells up and seals off the hole. This prevents the fire from spreading through the hole and onto adjoining floors, but more importantly protects the building’s structure.
The structure of most houses is made from wooden ceiling joists, once the ceiling joists are on fire they will inevitably collapse. This could cause the entire building to collapse before anyone has had time to extinguish the fire (fire service) or escape to safety.
Do I Need To Install Fire Rated Downlights In My House?
- If the downlights in question are being installed in houses containing wooden ceiling joists then they should be fire rated. If the ceiling or structure is made from concrete then they may not need to be fire rated. If in doubt, install fire rated downlights anyway, they cost slightly more but are safer and provide peace of mind.
- Fire rated downlights also provide added protection such as acoustic protection and moisture resistance. Non fire rated downlights are a gateway that will allow sound, air, moisture and fire to pass through unchallenged.
- The ESC (Electrical Safety Council) recommends fire rated downlights for all domestic installations. CLICK HERE for further information.
Can I Lay Insulation Directly Over Fire Rated Downlights?
- No, most downlights cannot be covered directly with thermal insulation as this will create a potential fire hazard. Cutting around the insulation used to be an acceptable practice but this is not energy efficient and goes against Part L of the Building Regulations. Continuous thermal insulation should be laid over a ceiling space to prevent heat from escaping.
- To deal with this conundrum in existing downlight installations you need to fit additional loft caps or insulation support boxes.
- Alternatively the new Sola Universal downlights from Aurora are fire rated and insulation coverable, meaning you can lay the insulation directly over them without the need for any additional items.
- Part B of the Building Regulations covers fire safety, click on the image below to read the official guidelines for domestic use:
- The Electrical Safetey Council recommends the use of fire rated downlights in almost all domestic installations, see below: