Fire-rated downlights for new homes market
By Tom Miller, Senior Lighting Designer for Aurora Lighting
Some of the gloom is starting to lift from the new homes market and there are clear signs of new opportunities, and challenges, for the lighting industry. The National House Building Council reports new home registrations rose by 55% in the first half of 2010 compared with the previous year and market research company MBD has projected that private housing output will return to stronger growth from 2011 with an annual growth of between 6-10% for 2011-2014.
Meeting the building regulations challenge
Even with these tentative signs of recovery electrical installers looking at long-term stability and faced with tough building regulations are looking for fittings that provide both performance and value for money.
Fire barriers, sound barriers and the conservation of fuel and power all have to be considered when lighting fittings are specified. When it comes to lighting, consumers still favour recessed downlights. With many installations now requiring the use of fire hoods or fire rated downlights the need to keep insulation from the back of the fittings is often overlooked in the original specification stage of a project. This can often lead to the added expense and time of fitting insulation guards to provide breathing space around the fittings to avoid damaging the lighting fittings.
Cutting into a fire barrier
When recessed downlights are installed in ceilings, holes have to be cut through the fire barrier. This impacts on the integrity of the ceiling, the void above and the floor above that. Fire-rated downlights are designed to help meet the requirements set out in Part B of the building regulations by ensuring that the ceiling remains an effective barrier to the spread of flame. Ceilings with apertures for recessed downlights can also require compliance with Parts C and E of the building regulations which relate to the transmission of air, moisture and sound. Many fire rated downlights also meet these requirements.
Uninterrupted insulation – a new solution
The requirement for uninterrupted insulation has presented a challenge for some time. Part L of the building regulations is now policed far more rigorously, meaning that an installer can no longer simply cut away insulation around recessed fittings. If the downlight is covered with layers of insulation the resulting build-up of heat will greatly reduce the lamp life and can cause issues with the lighting fitting itself.
Aurora’s fire-rated SOLA IC range of downlights can tackle all of the complications that installers now face. The SOLA IC range uses an integrated intumescent material to seal the downlight in the event of fire. The sealed fittings will also maintain the integrity of standard sound barriers, aid in passing air leakage tests and IP65 rated versions can be used in bathroom or outdoor applications.
The real breakthrough is the addition of an innovative integrated heat sink designed specifically for this generation of fire rated downlights. This allows the downlights to be installed directly into two layers of thermal insulation, which removes the need for additional insulation guards. This ensures that the heat generated by the lamp does not damage the fitting or its surroundings even with two layers of glass or rock mineral wool insulation (standard loft insulation) laid directly on top of the downlight.
This range, therefore, provides a number of significant benefits. Firstly, the low energy versions can meet the requirements of Parts L1 of the Building Regulations and its amendments from 1 October 2010. With there being no requirement for expensive insulation guards the cost of materials for an installation can be significantly reduced as well as the knowledge that one range of products will meet all of your requirements.
Faster fitting without compromising compliance
Full insulation coverage helps with noise reduction – the downlights have been tested to acoustic standards BS EN ISO 140-3 1995 and BS EN ISO 140-6 1998 and therefore meet the requirements for Building Regulation Part E.
From an installer’s point of view, SOLA IC downlights can be installed from below the ceiling without the need to remove or modify any insulation. This is ideal for electricians who want to be sure they have not compromised any of the relevant building regulations and, in a competitive market, need to do the job in the most efficient way.
With energy efficient light sources in high demand the SOLA IC range also provides compact fluorescent and LED light sources to accompany traditional halogen models.