Electrical Question

Downlighters in ceilings

My daughter has just bought a house with downlighters on the first and second floors. A variety of different bulbs have been fitted and this has confused and worried me as to the safety of these. My questions are as follows
In the roof space
About 10 down lighters and they are "twist & lock" type 240v 50w. Original insulation has been topped up by 200mm and goes over the lights and the transfomers. Is there a risk of overheating and fire as these types of lights disipate the heat rather than reflecting it down?
Downstairs
There are downlighters in the kitchen and therefore in the cavity between kitchen and bedrooms. These are Push fit ELV 12v Do there need to fireproofed in the floor cavity
Grateful to any advice and I will be getting a registered sparky to do the work if this is necessary!
Thanks
Peter

4 Answers

Best Answer

Peter, open back dowlighter spotlights are a major fire risk! I am amazed that the manufacturers and retailers get away with selling them.

In the 1980's and 90's halogen downlighters were all the rage and people lavishly fitted them in their kitchens, bathrooms and work areas. People peppered their ceilings with a multitude of round holes. Mainly beacuse people liked the neatness and the bright light that was cast in the rooms.

Because of the fact that the installation entailed drilling large holes all over the ceiling, and that a lot of this workl was done by DIY'ers, its common to find poor quality installations of cheap fittings with unenclosed electrical connections just pushed up and in close proximity to the open and very hot rear surface of the bulb. This is a potential fire risk and many house fires have been caused by halogen spotlights, such that many insurers now refuse to pay out where they can establish that the installation was shoddy and did not comply with the wiring and/or building regulations.

The two reasons that halogen bulbs can be a fire hazard are;

)the halogen bulb is small and of high wattage for the lumens output, which means that it generates a lot of heat in comparison to modern LED bulbs. As a direct result of the high heat radiated from the halogen bulb there is a danger of it igniting combustible material that uis in direct contact or close proximity to the bulb unless appropriate care is taken during installation.

Secondly the fire hazard is a direct result of the procedure in which these light bulbs are fitted. The halogen downlight if fitted ordinarily to a 80mm diameter hole in the plasterboard and the back of the light is actually within the floor void or roof space. As described earlier the halogen bulb does get remarkably hot and through this installation method this high heat level is now concentrated into a very small area. The impact of this is amplified because loft insulation or floor insulation is normally present which means that the amount of air circulation for cooling is very limited.

I would strongly recopmmend that you advise your duaghter to replace all the open back downlights with fully fire rated types. Also unless the downlights are "F" rated they should not be covered with any insulation whatsoever.

In the meantime, its worth removing the insulation from around the light fittings so that it can disipate its heat more effectively and also fit aluminium reflector type bulbs, so that a lot of the heat is sent downwards and not up into the ceiling void.

Please see the attcahed links for helpful information;

http://www.esc.org.uk/public/guides-and-advice/

http://www.esc.org.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/documents/public/leaflets/Downlight_Consumer-_web_ready-_July_2012.pdf

Hope this helps, please click on "like" if it does.

Answered 19th Jan 2013

Electrical Safety Services

Member since 17 Oct 2011

You should consider fitting those fittings at risk with LED bulbs, not cheap but then replacing the fittings will cost more, remove insulation from around the fittings in the roof space, and they will stay cool enough to be safe.

Answered 19th Jan 2013

chris tomlin

Member since 28 Mar 2012

remove the insulation from the lights as being covered will cause extreme heat
changing the lamps to LED would take the heat factor away
HALER H2 led lights are the best on the market and come with 7 year guarantee

Answered 3rd Feb 2013

G.W Electrics Ltd

Member since 25 Jun 2012

My best advise to you is to switch do LED lights, change them all and you get rid of the fire hazzard as most of them emit low hear compared to the rest of them/

Answered 1st Nov 2017

Innovative Home Improvements

Member since 31 Oct 2017

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