As of 10th May 2012, new rules for the use of downlights in residential installations in New Zealand have come into effect to reduce the risk of fire when thermal installation is installed. So if you plan to renovate or build, you will only be able to use downlights that comply with the new rules and allow for thermal installation to either abut the fittings (CA 80 and CA 135), or abut and cover the fittings (IC and IC-F).

“With these new regulations, all downlights suitable for installation in a home will need to have insulation abutted to them and still not exceed 135C,” says lighting design expert Stephanie Millar. “New IC rated downlights can be installed in your home but to choose the right downlight to suit your needs you should consult with someone that understands your requirements.”

If the light fitting is IC rated it is safe to cover with insulation as per the manufacturers instructions. Remember, do not cover non-IC or CA rated fittings.

“Some things that you should be aware of when buying the new downlights is that the term ‘insulation’ is only defined in the legislation as ‘thermal, acoustic or similar’ and does not specify that the testing done to classify the downlights be repeated with all types of insulation,” explains Stephanie.

“This means that is you are planning on using any insulation other than the standard fiberglass or ‘pink batts’ it would be best to check with the downlight manufacturer first and get their approval. Also, under these new regulations, loose fill insulation is not allowed to be used unless specifically approved by the downlight manufacturer.”

If you would like further advice on the new downlight legislation visit the Lighting Plus website.

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This article featured on page 12 of Issue 003 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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