I may be installing some canned recessed lights in a attic room ceiling.
This room will be used as a storage area for all my hunting clothes, gear,
etc.. The room is 12 x 12 with a 8' ceiling. Two of the walls are 12/12
sloped to the floor and the ceiling is approx. 32" x 12'. This room will be
unheated other than leaving the door open. It is entirely insulated. The
ceiling will be insulated with r-38 13" thick batts which is thicker than
the height of canned light fixtures. The fixtures I have looked at ( Juno,
Halo ) say that their IC fixtures are safe for insulation contact but I am
in doubt whether it would be advisable to place insulation on top of the
fixture to completely encapsulate the fixtures with insulation. Are these
fixtures normally completely covered over with insulation or do you cut a
hole in the insulation so that the top is open to the air with insulation
touching only the side of the fixture? I asked at the box stores and got
different answers. Thanks in advance for any advice.
While helping out my daughter with a remodel of her house -- it's around 40
years old -- there were some recessed fixtures in her ceilings, in the
basement finished room, and in the halls. In the halls, I spray painted the
inside of the fixture with a high gloss white enamel, and put in the spiral
fluorescent lamps. They are a lot cooler operating, and the white enamel
paint reflects the light better. I did the same with the old Kirlin square
recessed fixtures in the basement room. I painted the inside of the
fixture, and the reflector also. The fixture is much brighter now, and runs
a lot cooler with the spiral fluorescent lamp. There would be little chance
of a fire hazard with this combination.
Not sure - but I installed Juno IC cans in my attic. I cut the
insulation around them and did not insulate on top of them. They have a
thermal safety switch on top and it just didn't seen like a good idea to
Yes, IC fixtures are rated to be completely covered in insulation.
UL writes the standards on that issue and the makers have to meet
those. Thats what the makers will tell you if you ask them. It is why
many IC fixtures have lower wattage requirements than the non-IC types.
FWIW: Incandescent fixtures will be far cheaper for a rarely used
storage area. If you are in there one hour a week, you might spend as
much as $1/year on power.
Richard Reid, LC
Architectural Lighting Design
The higher rated conductors used to wire the fixture are there because there
required by Underwriters Laboratories during testing. The largest lamp
permitted (as marked on the fixture) is there not only to protect the
fixture from failing, but to also protect the adjacent construction. The
maximum requirement is to limit the adjacent construction to 90 deg C or
less. Over-lamping can cause adjacent materials to deteriate and combust
when exposed to high temperatures for a long time. Even gypsum board will
dehydrate, crack and even crumble if exposed to high heat over a long period
of time (just like during a fire.)
The higher rating of NM-B cable (90 deg C) is only on the insulation for the
conductors; NOT the outer jacket (still rated at 60 deg C.) It was increased
to protect wiring from the higher temerpatures its exposed to in attics, in
bundling and when entering light fixtures (esp the last on due to people
over-lamping their fixtures.)
Your inspector is not only wrong, he's downright dangerous for giving such
In all honestly, many local inspectors get their jobs because they helped
someone with their political campaign; not because they are able to pass
the tests. Here in Indiana they had a push on to force all local inspectors
to pass the NCPCCI tests (now known as the ICC exams). The state gave up
because so few could actually pass! And, sadly, this is not an isolated
Your electrical inspector doesn't know what he's talking about. Heed the
labels and warnings, their there for a reason, and in this case, fire
prevention. Thousands of home fires have been traced to overlamping lighting
fixtures, over-fusing and generally ignoring the ode and product warnings.
We had 100 watt bulbs in our can lights, and they'd go dark after a little
while. This was a first floor ceiling, not insulated. When they'd cool
down, they'd light up again. The space was unfinished at the time, so we
didn't really realize what was going on, and had bigger problems with our
contractor to deal with. We asked the inspector and he said that to use a
100 watt bulb we'd need cans rated for insulation, since they are capable of
handling the extra heat the insulation holds in.
I installed IC canned lights and completely covered them
over with insulation. The lights kept on going on and off
and I found that they have an thermal sensor which shuts
the bulb off if the housing reaches a particular temperature.
The first thing I worried about was that the insulation was
causing the lights to overheat but when I looked into it I
found that the canned lights are speced to operate with
specific bulbs and also specific trim. Now that I have the
right combinations they work just fine.
Type IC fixtures can be completely covered over with insulation without any
danger of fire.
As you found out, the reason your particular fixtures were going on and off
is probably because you over-lamped them. Type IC Luminaries (lighting
fixtures) are provided with thermo-protection to deactivate the lamp should
the fixture be over-lamped.
Further on the on/off cycle:
ALL recessed fixtures have the same thermostat device.
If the fixture is "accidently" covered in insulation or is installed
in too small an area (3" clear all around for non-IC) then the thermal
protector will cause the same slow flickering.
Also the TP devices are known to fail. Same result!
I did go to Halo and Juno websites to try and contact them. There was no
phone number, only a form to contact them. I sent my question and contact
info into them but have not received any response to date. I was thinking of
the possible future use of this area and that is one reason I was thinking
of recessed lights. I will also be installing more of them in the rest of
the attic and was planning on purchasing in the multi packs which would give
me a couple of extra lights. The attic will be used as a hobby area but
could be used as living space in the future.
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