As we approach the time where the evenings are drawing in, many of us start to pay more attention to the lighting in our homes.
Downlights are a popular and attractive way to brighten up your home. However, poorly installed downlights are also the cause of a substantial number of fires in homes every year.
Also known as “recessed luminaries”, "spotlights" or Recessed Lighting" they are essentially light fixtures installed in hollow openings, usually ceilings. By installing them into these recesses, the light looks as if it is part of the ceiling instead of hanging down as a separate entity.
When a hole is cut into a ceiling to mount a recessed downlight, a potential fire hazard is created. This is why it is recommended that you always use a registered electrician to install any downlights.
So, can you get different types of downlights?
Yes you can.
Downlights operate at mains voltage (230 Volts) or are powered by a transformer at extra-low voltage (12 Volts).
Extra-low voltage (ELV) downlights are often described as "low voltage" or “safety extra low voltage” (SELV).
You can also get downlights that are “Fire Rated”. These have built-in fire protection that completely seals the aperture in the event of fire in the room below to prevent the spread of fire and smoke into other areas.
It is recommended to use “Fire Rated” downlights in any installation in a ceiling, along with those fitted with aluminium reflector lamps to make sure any fire and excessive heat is kept out of any gaps.
How do I replace a lamp once installed?
It is very important that you keep hold of the manufacturer’s instructions and refer to them whenever a lamp needs replacing.
Ensure you check the packaging and the downlighter itself for details of the replacement lamps needed, and make sure you don’t exceed the maximum wattage.
You must always make sure the electricity is turned off before attempting to replace a lamp.
If the lamp holder is damaged in any way, DO NOT attempt to fit the lamp, and instead seek advice from a registered electrician.
Certain lamps (e.g. cool beam or dichroic) can only be used in specific types of lamp holders. If in doubt, use only aluminium reflector lamps.
How do I check my downlights are safe?
If you just want to check your existing downlights, here are some things you can do:
- Look for visible marking on the downlights which show you the lamp wattage and type
- Inspect the downlights and their surrounding areas for any signs of overheating e.g. discolouration or scorching
- Make sure there is enough space around any downlights installed in floor or ceiling cavities
- Ensure they are not covered by or in contact with any combustible materials e.g. loft insulation
- Make sure they are not near furniture, curtains or any other combustible material
- Make sure you haven’t fitted ‘cool beam’ (dichroic) lamps in lamp holders designed for use with aluminium reflector lamps. If you have, then replace them with the correct type.
As always, when handling or dealing with electrical installations, safety is paramount and it is always advisable to speak to a professional.
For any help and advice with installing or maintaining your downlights, please give us a call and we’d be happy to help.