If you’ve ever changed your lighting to include downlights in the past you might have been asked this age-old question “Are you looking to fit fire-rated downlights or the non-fire-rated variety?” It’s probably fair to say that to the average homeowner this question be pretty meaningless, except for the fact that the term ‘fire-rated’ suggests that this type of lighting is safer. While this is true the difference between the two in terms of safety is stark. So what exactly are fire-rated downlights and why should they be used? Let’s take a look…
First of all, what are fire-rated downlights?
In essence fire-rated downlighting has the ability to seal off the hole in a ceiling made when the downlights are fitted. It does this by means of a built-in intumescent pad which quickly expands to fill the gap when certain core temperatures are reached. But why is this important? Without this sealed protection, any fire that starts in the floor above will quickly find any holes or slight gaps and will intensify as it seeks out a direct route into the floor below. You could say that it’s akin to opening a door onto a raging fire and watching as the new release of oxygen causes the flames to intensify and spread rapidly inwards. Effectively fitting a fire-rated downlight won’t prevent a fire, but what it can do is to prevent that fire from dangerously spreading, buying you and your family precious time.
So where should you install fire-rated downlights?
If you happen to live in a two-storey building that has an upstairs and downstairs, or in an apartment block then it’s highly recommended that if you are looking to install downlighting, you opt for the fire-rated variety. Alternatively, if you live in a bungalow, villa, or one-storey house where everything is on one level, then the risk is obviously not so great. However, why take the risk? If a fire does break out, anything that is going to give you more time to make good your escape is a bonus.
What about if you already have non-fire-rated downlighting fitted?
A tradesperson can convert them to fire-rated by fitting a loft cap or fire hood. However on some occasions, it might be more cost-effective to replace them with the fire-rated variety, plus it gives the property owner total peace of mind.
Do all fire-rated downlights offer the same protection?
In a word…No! Fire-rated downlights offer protection ranging from 30 minutes right up to 120 minutes. This is calculated to be the time the fire-proofing can delay the spread of a fire. If for example downlights were installed into a ceiling on the ground floor of a house then normally 30-60 minutes will suffice. Conversely, if the ceiling was in multiple apartment blocks, then 90 or 120 minutes might be the preferred rating of choice.
If you’d like to find out any further information on fire-rated downlights or would like a skilled professional to fit them for you, then contact Static Electrics.
As fully licensed electricians, we have the expertise to handle any electrical problem or project and provide cost-effective lighting solutions. Contact us today on 1300 206 004 for a free, no-obligation, competitive quote.