Why the IC-Rating of your downlight matters

Emerald Planet Downlight Kit

The IC-rating (Insulation Contact) of a downlight refers to whether or not it can come in direct contact with ceiling insulation. But how are lighting and insulation related and why should you care? This post addresses these questions.

Many modern homes and offices use downlights for their versatility, and sleek stylish look. Incandescent and halogen bulbs in regular sockets protrude down from the ceiling, and the heat emitting component is not in contact with anything. Downlights however are set into the ceiling structure. This creates a potential fire hazard for insulated ceilings, as halogen downlight ‘bulbs’ emit a lot of heat. This is because the insulation can trap this heat, causing the it to melt or ignite combustible material nearby.

An obvious solution is to separate the downlight housing and the insulation. This however is not ideal as it reduces the effectiveness of your insulation. This will also mean higher energy costs to keep your home cool in summer and warm in winter. IC-rated downlights fix this problem, as you can install them in an insulated ceiling without creating a fire hazard. These can be “abutted” or directly covered by insulation. IC-rated downlights are also compliant with the the Australian/New Zealand Standard on Recessed Luminaires (AS/NZS 60598.2.20:2018)

IC-Rated LED-Integrated Downlights

IC Rating of Downlights
IC-Rating of downlights

Look for the IC-Rating label on the product or the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Please note, not all IC-4 Rated downlights are safe to be covered with insulation

IC-rating in downlights refers to ‘Insulation Contact’ and is accompanied with an image imprinted on the fixture and the installation instructions. As mentioned in our previous post on LED lights, they emit far less heat than their incandescent and halogen counterparts. It is also important to note that non-LED downlight kits pose an actual fire risk if covered with insulation, while appropriately IC-rated LED-integrated downlights, even if completely wrapped in insulation, won’t cause a fire – they just may not last as long. The integration of LED and the driver (transformer) into one unit therefore re-invented recessed lights, making them more energy efficient, without compromising your ceiling insulation.

Check label and installation instructions

ICA90 rated LED downlight kit with finsIt is important to always check the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Not all LED downlights are safe to be covered with insulation. The pictured downlight is an ICA90 rated LED downlight kit.  It features heat dissipating fins and a separate transformer. It is therefore not safe to be covered or “abutted” with insulation. 

YESS use IC-4 rated Emerald Planet LED-Integrated Downlights that are safe to be covered by non-flammable insulation. When compared with their non IC-rated equivalents, these downlights are safer and simpler to use, and do not compromise your ceiling insulation. When choosing your downlights, make sure to check the IC rating in the manufacturer’s installation instructions and any mandatory clearances noted.

YESS offer eligible REES and VEU customers high performance Emerald Planet Downlight sets for $30 each.

Updated on 21 February, 2020

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