Incorrectly Installed Downlights Are A Fire Hazard
Across Australia, hundreds of homes have been damaged or even completely destroyed by fire caused by old style halogen downlights.
There are millions of the lights still in use across the country and many of them are just a disaster waiting to happen.
The problem with these lights is the heat they generate during normal operation. The lamps can burn at over 300 degrees C which is plenty hot enough to start a fire in your ceiling.
Due to the potential problems there are strict regulations for installing these lights. But as so often happens in our industry these regulations are ignored to cut costs or just because the installer doesn’t know what they are doing.
The old style downlights must be installed at the correct distance from flammable building materials such as timber joists, and they must be protected to prevent them being covered by insulation.
We have seen plenty of cases where a wooden beam or ceiling truss has been partly cut away to allow the installation of a downlight fitting, and the timber black and charred as a result of the lamp being so close.
Downlights that are covered by insulation are particularly dangerous as the lamp heat is trapped and concentrated in the one area. Insulation installers generally don’t have a good reputation for dealing correctly with halogen downlights, and once again cost cutting is probably a major factor.
The insulation installer is on a fixed price and many of the workers have no training in the correct safety procedures.
Even where metal insulation rings are installed as required, we have seem pump-in insulation and batts totally covering lights and creating a dangerous fire hazard.
Even if the lights are installed correctly they can still be the cause of a fire. Birds, mice or rats nesting in your roof space can carry in grass and paper and other flammable materials and build their nest over your lights. Rats especially like nesting near downlights due to the warmth they generate.
It is possible to purchase fire guarded downlight fittings or guards that you can retrofit to an existing light, but these days they are not the best solution.
Replacing your old halogen downlights with new LED downlights is definitely the way to go.
LED downlights are now very reasonably priced, they use up to 80% less energy, run very cool in comparison and can be installed close to flammable materials and even covered by insulation in some cases.
If you have old halogen downlights in your home, you should consider replacing these potentially dangerous fittings, or at least get them checked to make sure you’re not about to have a serious problem to have a problem.
For advice and a free quotation on replacing your old halogen downlights phone Mance Electrical Launceston on 6331 4711