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  1. #1
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    Default Non IC light cans

    I saw somewhere a good article on making an insulation box out of 2" styrofoam to place on top of a Non-IC light can. It would stop air infiltration, but still allow 3" of air space around the light fixture. Does anyone have a web link to something like that? I've been Googling for a while, and I can't seem to find it.

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    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Non IC light cans

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    I saw somewhere a good article on making an insulation box out of 2" styrofoam to place on top of a Non-IC light can. It would stop air infiltration, but still allow 3" of air space around the light fixture. Does anyone have a web link to something like that? I've been Googling for a while, and I can't seem to find it.

    That won't work as the insulation needs to be kept 3" back from the recessed light fixture ... with the top above the light fixture left open so the heat from the recessed light can escape.

    You now have a huge hole in your insulated ceiling, and those recessed housings are also not 'air tight' type housings.

    That (making a box with drywall) was the first thing people did when those codes came into effect, but as soon as we started doing that, we realized the tops has to be open, so we started putting screen on top to keep the insulation out and still allow the heat to ventilate up, but soon realized that the screen just allowed the blown in insulation to pile up on the screen, making the net effect for ventilating out the heat from the recessed light a big fat -0-.

    The first insulated ceiling lights were TC type, with a thermo couple which would turn the lights off when they over heated, of course, though, people did not like their recessed lights turning off, then coming back on later (big Duh! here), so IC lights came out which effectively used derated wattages to reduce the heat build up in the recessed fixture to make them safe for installation in insulated ceilings.

    Then, around 1996-97 or so one recessed light manufacturer started promoting their recessed lights and that they were 'air tight type', which, of course, made all (at least most) inspectors aware of 'Oh, yeah, that's been in the energy codes since way back when they came out in 1983 (Florida Energy Code anyway), so 'non-air tight type' recessed lights were no longer allowed, which made all of the other manufacturers jump and start making 'air tight type' recessed lights real quick like.

    But, getting back to the box made of insulation ... all that will do is trap heat into the light and raise the possibility of fire to a higher level.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Non IC light cans

    That makes sense. I wonder why they published that article. I think it was within the last year, probably in This Old House. I haven't seen any air tight lights except in showers, even in our new construction. Or, are they air tight without a lens cover? I only used IC whenever I did work, which is a while ago now. They shouldn't even make Non-IC, in my opinion.

    Different note, what do you think about using fluorescent bulbs in a Non-IC can that has insulation packed around it. I can't see the fluorescent bulbs making enough heat to be an issue. Probably not code, but in reality what would happen?

    Somewhere I just read that Australia will be phasing out all incandescent lamps in the next couple of years.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Non IC light cans

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    I haven't seen any air tight lights except in showers, even in our new construction. Or, are they air tight without a lens cover?
    The recessed housing itself is 'air tight', meaning the air loss up through them from the conditioned space to the unconditioned space above them is very limited.

    They shouldn't even make Non-IC, in my opinion.
    Why?

    What about in condos with a drywall ceiling, a ceiling space (plenum or not) then a concrete slab above? No need for air tight recessed lights there.

    What about those used in the first floor of two story homes?

    What about those used in home with Icynene sprayed on the underside of the roof sheathing?

    There are many uses for non-IC recessed lights - wherever there is no insulation.

    Also, wherever there is no insulation, you don't need (in most cases) air-tight type recessed lights either.

    Different note, what do you think about using fluorescent bulbs in a Non-IC can that has insulation packed around it. I can't see the fluorescent bulbs making enough heat to be an issue. Probably not code, but in reality what would happen?
    First and foremost, those lights are rated for specific ranges of incandescent lamps, not those compact fluorescent lamps - technically, the compact fluorescent lamps are not allowed to be used in those recessed lights (that makes the use of the recessed light 'not in accordance with their listing and labeling', a code violation - technically).

    Secondly, the compact fluorescent lamps I installed in our recessed lamps specifically say not to install or use them in recessed lights with lens on them - they get too hot. That goes for the two in our hallway which have lens on them and those compact fluorescent lamps in them.

    Those lamps still do produce a lot of heat.

    While we at at it ... if you have a recessed incandescent light in a clothes closet (which is not allowed within specific locations) over the shelf area, would it now be okay to replace the incandescent lamp with one of those compact fluorescent lamps?

    No. Being as those lamps use the same screw in type base, there is nothing to prohibit the fluorescent lamp from being replaced with an incandescent lamp when the fluorescent lamp goes out.

    Somewhere I just read that Australia will be phasing out all incandescent lamps in the next couple of years.
    I've also heard and read the same thing about incandescent lamps in the US.

    GE is working on technology which will, supposedly, make incandescents obsolete, and the replacement technology will be reasonably enough priced to allow that to become a reality.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
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    Cool Re: Non IC light cans

    Non-ICs used in lower floor ceilings such as kitchens and dropped ceilings. I still don't like them because most make Budweiser cans look strong. They leak air like a sieve by design. If used legally into attic, they can contribute significantly to depressurization. Even IC rated leak unless caulked to drywall. Another problem with even IC is using higher wattage bulbs than designed.

    I assisted on the investigation of a fire once where it was caused by improper wiring in an IC can. The electrician stripped away way too much outer sheathing exposing free conductor to the box without a Romex clamp. Those knock outs leave a sharp burr. It sawed through the insulation and energized the fixture. The original was burnt to a crisp so I suggested an exemplar. We cut one out of the rest of the ceiling (much of room still intact) and sure enough all of them wired alike. Turns out the kid doing the wiring would cut away two feet of sheathing then fail to trim the free conductor to a reasonable ~8" and no clamps. Clamps take too much time, right?

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

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