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 Them In My House?

If they're being installed into 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.

They 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. More further information available here.

Can I Lay Insulation Directly Over Them or Do I Need to Order Special Ones?

Integral EvoFire
  • Some downlights cannot be covered directly with thermal insulation as can 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 EvoFire for Integral LED or EFD Pro 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.
  • Most modern integrated LED and GU10 downlights are insulation coverable as standard, we have a large selection here.

More information

Part B of the Building Regulations covers fire safety, click on the image below to read the official guidelines for domestic use here at the official Government website.

Part B Fire Safety
Part B Fire Safety

If in doubt, install fire rated downlights anyway, they might cost slightly more but are safer and provide peace of mind.