Fire-rated downlights – safety first!
Author: Glenn Harper
Published: January 22, 2014
Fire-rated downlights are designed to preserve the integrity of a ceiling in the event of a fire. They have a metal can at the rear containing intumescent materials, which expand under extreme heat to form a seal within the light housing. This stops flames taking hold of vulnerable ceiling cut-outs and delays a floor collapse, providing crucial evacuation time for upstairs occupants.
Of uppermost concern when buying fire-rated downlights is compliance with Part B Fire Safety Regulations (England and Wales). Tables A1 and A2 in Approved Document B (volumes 1 and 2) provide easy reference to specific requirements, available online.
Aside from Part B requirements, recessed downlights should comply with Part C (air flow), Part E (acoustics), Part L (energy efficiency), and Part P (domestic electrical safety) Building Regulations. All of Lyco’s downlights fully comply or aid compliance with these regulations.
To comply with Part B Building Regulations, recessed ceiling lights are often tested for their level of fire protection, and may be fire rated for 30, 60, 90, or even 120 minutes.
Most 2 or 3-storey houses have a minimum 30 minute fire-rated ceiling requirement, whilst a higher four-storey house typically has a 60-minute rating. A taller residential building whose top floor stands between 18m and 30m high will require 90-minute ceiling protection, whilst anything above that needs 120 minutes.
These same figures are broadly applicable to commercial or industrial buildings, with some concession given for ceilings fitted with sprinklers. Non-fire-rated downlights can be installed into domestic ceilings below a roof void. Otherwise they must be used with an intumescent fire hood, and can easily end up costing more than fire-rated fittings with this extra expense.
For affordability, Lyco sell a range of Robus fixed downlights using a standard halogen GU10 bulb. Available in White or Satin Chrome finishes, these fire-rated downlights offer an economical means of improving fire safety in any building. Halogen GU10 bulbs are notable for dissipating much of their heat through the front of the lamp, using an aluminium reflector design.
Halogen downlights for bathrooms
One of the great advantages of halogen technology is its sheer quality of light, which is only hinted at by a default maximum CRI 100 score. Halogen light is well-suited to bathrooms, where its warm hue is flattering to skin tones, and excellent colour rendering helps in tasks such as make-up application.
With an IP65 rating, the halogen-lit Eon Directional Downlight can be positioned in zones 1, 2, and ‘outside zones’ of a bathroom. It is completely protected against dust and jets of water, despite an adjustable light head. This fitting is fire-rated at 90 minutes, and available in White, Polished Chrome and Satin Chrome finishes.
The LED advantage
In commercial or retail environments, the LED downlight is fast becoming king. It uses up to 90% less energy than halogen lighting, and with a phenomenal lifespan (the Fireguard range offers up to 75,000 hours) it also saves substantially in maintenance costs. This is especially significant in difficult-to-reach recessed lights.
One of the very best manufacturers of fire-rated LED downlights is JCC, with its diverse Fireguard LED3 and LED7 ranges. These fittings are mostly waterproof, hugely energy-efficient and come in both dimmable and non-dimmable options. They use 3 or 6-LED arrays with equivalent outputs to 35W or 50W halogen downlights, respectively. A choice of cool or warm colour temperatures is another LED advantage over filament lights.
The JCC Fireguard LED3 models have a particularly modest depth, making them ideal for shallow ceiling voids. At the high end of the scale, one of the primary advantages of a Fireguard LED6 model is its amazing 75,000 hour lifespan. The quality of all Fireguard products is backed by a generous manufacturer’s guarantee.
Fire-Rated Downlights - which should I choose?
Buy halogen for its superb quality of light and up-front affordability. Choose LED for its incredible energy-efficiency and longevity. If you’re buying fire-rated downlights, Lyco has a solution to precisely meet your needs. Why not take a look at our full range of fire-rated downlights today?
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