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Thread: IC-rated recessed lights OK with blown-in insulation?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    IC-rated recessed lights OK with blown-in insulation?

    I am hoping for some assistance in settling a debate among a few of my colleagues.

    Some insist that it is not safe to have IC-rated recessed housings touching blown-in insulation (the fluffy stuff), and prefer to have foam board boxes built around the recessed lights. Others, including me, believe that as long as the fixtures are IC-rated and the insulation is loose fill, air-permeable, it is safe to have the recessed housing in direct contact with the blown-in insulation.

    Do any of you know if any instances where an IC-rated recessed housing in direct contact with blown-in insulation has caused fire hazards?

    Any opinions on this topic would be welcome.

    Many thanks,
    Cornish, NH

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Philly Suburbs
    This depends on the manufacturer. I forget which one, and the wording was a bit more legal, but the CHEAP housing was IC rated yet only touching in spots were permissible, not completely covering. On the flip side, I know that Juno and Lightolier specifically state that their IC housings can be completely covered, nearly verbatim. I don't not know of any fires, and unless the housing/thermal limiter was tampered with (or they were extremely early recessed lights that lacked the thermal protection), I would almost find it hard to believe that a fire was started.

    I also have letters, somewhere, from manufactures that prohibit spray foam contact. When I needed that letter...that was a fun one. (I hate spray foam from electrical trade standpoint)
    Last edited by svh19044; 02-14-12 at 07:14 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Thank you! Very helpful comments.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    From the UL white book 2011:

    Incandescent Recessed Luminaires (IEZX)
    This category covers luminaires intended for installation in recessed
    cavities in walls, ceilings and similar locations in accordance with Article
    410, Parts XI and XII of ANSI/NFPA 70, ‘‘National Electrical Code’’
    Recessed-type luminaires suitable for optional use with infrared heating
    lamps are marked and rated for 250 W reflector-type lamps. Recessed
    units suitable only for use with one or more infrared heating lamps are
    covered under Air Heaters, Room, Fixed and Location-dedicated (KKWS).
    TYPE IC LUMINAIRE — Luminaires marked ‘‘TYPE IC’’ may be
    installed such that insulation and other combustible materials are in contact
    with, and over the top of, the luminaire. Type IC luminaires are provided
    with thermal protection to deactivate the lamp should the luminaire
    be mislamped.
    which does not exceed temperatures greater than 90°C on outside surfaces
    even when covered with insulation and mislamped or overlapped is identified
    by being marked ‘‘INHERENTLY PROTECTED.’’

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Chapel Hill, NC
    I have never had a problem with insulation around a recess can marked IC except for one job where the HO bought a brand of low voltage lights I had never used. They had dense pack insulation around the cans- blown in cellulose packed extremely tight. We had to lower the wattage of the bulbs to keep them from tripping the TP.
    They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy
    She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
    I can't help it if I'm lucky

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    NE Nebraska
    Fiberglass insulation does not burn - until temperature is really high.

    Other types of insulation often have flame retardant properties but will burn at some point.

    IC rated cans usually have heat limiting thermostat installed.

    Mechanical devices do fail sometimes.

    If insulated too well - like the foamed in situation, where is the heat going to go? The light is creating heat as long as it is on.

    I offer no opinion just stating some facts.

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