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A Guide to Fire Rated Downlights

Ansell Lighting's Technical Manager answers commonly asked questions regarding testing and compliance of fire rated downlights.

What are fire rated downlights?

A fire rated downlight re-establishes the fire barrier provided by the ceiling after the hole is cut. Once the hole is cut this is an area of weakness and so a product needs to be used that retains the fire rating of the ceiling. When a hole is cut into a ceiling to accommodate the downlight, this in turn creates a fire hazard as it compromises the fire barrier of the ceiling allowing an area of weakness for the fire to move through.

Regulations ensure that downlights used in ceilings minimise the risk of fires spreading from one floor to another of a building and fire rated downlights help to slow down the spread of a fire if one was to occur. Within Ansell’s fire rated downlights, an intumescent pad is used which swells as temperatures rise within a room, this then in turn blocks the fire and help slows the spread.

This is the first in a series of articles where our Technical Manager answers some of the commonly asked questions regarding testing and compliance of fire rated downlights.

Fire Rated Downlight Testing and Compliance

1. Who carries out Ansell’s fire rated downlight testing? Is this done by a third party?

Yes, this is carried out by a UKAS accredited fire house. For the testing of Ansell’s downlights, we used Warrington Fire.

2. How can a contractor be certain a downlight is compliant with fire regulations?

From a contractor perspective it is difficult to see if a downlight is compliant just by looking at it. What has happened in the past is the NHBC (National Housebuilding Council) has sent a surveyor out to site, who will ask for certification of the downlight. If the surveyor receives this information and they deem it isn’t sufficient, they will speak to the manufacturer for further evidence to show compliance. The contractor should install a fixture that they trust, they should ask the manufacturer for evidence of compliance to prove they have a full scale test report to show compliance. And it is important to check the information within the test report to ensure the ceiling construction, materials, test method and loading are all above board.

There are some key points to consider when looking at fire testing specification and test reports when considering purchasing fire rated downlights, we have noted a few below:

  • Joist Type – is it Solid Timber, I Joist, Metal Web, note the manufacturer if possible.
  • Web material and width (IJoist and Metal Web) to compare and assess with full scale test data.
  • Dimensions of the joist, this must be comparable and no larger to the specification on site
  • Plasterboard – 15mm on 30 minutes and Type F Fireline 15mm plasterboard x 2 on 60 and 90 mins.
  • Joist spacings – 600mm for 30min – 600mm for 60min – 450mm for 90min
  • Ceiling Loading – Construction needs to be tested with 1.5 kN/m2 on 30 and 60 mins with 2.0kN/m2 on 90 mins
  • Overrun of test minimum 10% for example 33mins on a 30 min test
  • Number of luminaires in the ceiling – comparable to ‘real life’ scenarios in our case we use 9 in a 3M x 4M ceiling space
  • Minimum 22m Tongue and Groove chipboard to be used for floorboards

3. Are all of Ansell’s products tested to BS EN 1365?

Yes, all our product testing is done to this standard.

4. BS EN 1365 is a six part series. What part does Ansell use? As it is a British Standard rather than harmonized standard, how does this impact downlights manufactured outside of the UK?

We use part 2 of the BS EN 1365 (BS EN1365-2 Fire resistance tests for loadbearing elements – Part 2: Floors and Roofs). Any fire rated downlight manufactured in the UK or anywhere around the world still need to comply to BS EN1365-2 regardless.

5. Why do manufactures still make non fire rated lights?

Looking at Europe, there are still many countries who do not use fire rated lights, so there is still a market for these. Non-fire rated lights are still used around the country for example in commercial properties applications for instance in a grid ceiling which has no floor above and also within applications with concrete floors / ceilings.

6. What size plasterboard were your lights tested on?

Our lights were tested on 15 mm plasterboard with no plaster finish, which is what is required according to the testing procedure. The regulations for new build houses currently are very different from what it was say 30 years ago. Looking at the installation of a fire rated downlight in a house built long before the current regulations, the construction of the ceiling needs to be correct at the time of the construction installation. If a ceiling was installed 40 years ago and was correct at the time of installation, this is what matters when looking at the compliance.

7. Is fire safety affected if a halogen bulb is replaced by LED or the other way around if wattage if followed?

If this is just around the lamp that is fitted in to a GU10 lamp holder, so Ansell’s Edge GU10 downlight is fire rated and if you were to put any type of lamp into it, the lamp does not offer any type of fire barrier. It is always the intumescent material inside of the can which expands and therefore provides the barrier required to maintain the integrity of the ceiling as a fire barrier.

8. Can retro fitting a fire hood negate the need to swap out downlighters and do you make one?

Ansell do supply fire hoods but to get the right fitting of fire hood, would work out at a similar cost as installing non fire rated downlights and a hood, not taking into account the additional labour to install the fire hood.

9. How long is the warranty on Ansell Fire Rated Downlights?

Our products have five-year warranty and we will replace faulty products within that time period. It may be that we will develop the product, or it may be superseded by a better product, so if you require a replacement, we will offer you a replacement of the better, newer version of the product. If your product is out of warranty, we will always support you in finding a replacement version of this product. We have purposely kept a cut out as consistent as possible when re-developing a fire rated downlight so the newer version should easily replace any prior fire rated products.

Browse our range of fire rated products today and please get in touch if there’s anything we can help with.

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