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  1. #1
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    Question Bulb to ceiling clearance

    What is the recommend clearance between ceiling and an open bulb incandescent light fixture. I thought that it was at least 12 inches. This fixture is located in the bathroom and is less than 2 inches from ceiling.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    It's not the ceiling, it is what is below the bulb! Fixture needs to be 12" away from the shelf or storage area for an incandescent and 6" for a fluorescent. Recessed can lights can be 6". The fixture protects (it should)the ceiling, what's the concern is an item being pushed up against the bulb. Most common are closet shelves that are near the fixture. Folks tend to pile closet shelves up to the ceiling with extra bedding, towels, etc.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  3. #3
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    This fixture is located in the bathroom and is less than 2 inches from ceiling.
    Advise them (your client) that the ceiling will get 'scorched' from the lamp's heat.

    Unless there is anything in the installation instructions which came with the light fixture, there is no minimum. I guess you could go to a Big Box store and look at the installation instructions in a similar type of light fixture to see what they state (that would be what I would do), then use that as a 'general guideline' for reference purposes.

    Think about your surface mounted ceiling lights with the lamps positioned horizontally, such as bedroom and hall fixtures, there is probably less than 2" clearance between the lamp and the ceiling, more like 1" or less would be my guess (never measured one).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Definitely comes down to the installation instructions. Not a code issue since it is not in a clothes closet.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    Not a code issue since it is not in a clothes closet.
    The distance from the lamp to the ceiling is not even a code issue in a clothes closet.

    The fact that it is in the clothes closet at all would be the issue.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    It could be a code issue if it is in a clothes closet depending on what type of fixture it is.


  7. #7
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Quote Originally Posted by Trent Tarter View Post
    What is the recommend clearance between ceiling and an open bulb incandescent light fixture.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    It could be a code issue if it is in a clothes closet depending on what type of fixture it is.
    Except that, as the question was asked (see above), incandescent light fixtures are not allowed where the lamp is not completely enclosed. Thus no distance to/from the ceiling to the lamp is addressed by code.

    That fact that the incandescent fixture is in the closet at all is the code issue in that it must be the type with a fully enclosed lamp.

    This has been taken to mean, by many jurisdictions, that no incandescent fixture is allowed in clothes closets as the part of the light fixture which completely encloses the lamp may be removed and the lamp still operate, thereby defeating the intent of the code *not to have an exposed incandescent lamp*. Now, if, when the "globe" (for an example) were to be removed or broken and an integral switch shut the lamp off, then that would fulfill the intent of the code. In the meantime, many jurisdictions simply do not allow incandescent luminaires in clothes closets.

    Which, of course, might be what you are saying, only saying it differently?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  8. #8
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    interesting idea.. lights go on the ceiling so how would you say they can't go near the ceiling..


  9. #9
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    In order to provide clearance for shelves, clothes rods, or whatever, some have been known to mount ceiling fixtures on the wall. Happens alot.


  10. #10
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Zborowski View Post
    In order to provide clearance for shelves, clothes rods, or whatever, some have been known to mount ceiling fixtures on the wall. Happens alot.
    And what defines a "ceiling fixture"?

    Some are listed for "ceiling mounting" only, many others are listed for "ceiling or wall mounting", and some are listed for "wall mounting" only.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Exclamation Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Closet Light Clearances

    incandescent fixtures... bulbs required to be fully enclosed
    surface incandescent fixtures minimum 12 inches from storage
    surface fluorescent minimum 6 inches from storage

    surface fixtures on wall only (ok) over the door
    recessed fixtures (wall or ceiling) minimum 6 inches from storage

    Charles @ PreVue Property Inspections, Santa Fe, NM
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  12. #12
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    its a open bulb on a wall.......... not in a closet ...


  13. #13
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Jerry, I'm talking about the cheapo fixtures with a wimpy glass globe held by three equally spaced thumb screws, not a sconce.


  14. #14
    Jerry Peck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Zborowski View Post
    Jerry, I'm talking about the cheapo fixtures with a wimpy glass globe held by three equally spaced thumb screws, not a sconce.
    So am I, which is why I said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Now, if, when the "globe" (for an example)
    Which also leads to why I said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    And what defines a "ceiling fixture"?

    Some are listed for "ceiling mounting" only, many others are listed for "ceiling or wall mounting", and some are listed for "wall mounting" only.
    Many fixtures are listed for wall or ceiling mounting. Sometimes it is in the installation instructions too as "base up to horizontal" when referencing the lamp.

    "Base up to horizontal" means the base of the lamp is allowed to be installed vertically up, to horizontally, or at any angle in between.

    "Base down to horizontal" means the base of the lamp is allowed to be installed vertically down, to horizontally, or at any angle in between.

    Many fixtures with plastic sockets are "base down to horizontal" as that allows the heat from the lamp to *not* gravitate vertically upward and burn the socket up. When installed "base down", the heat will rise from the lamp, rising *away from* the socket. Same for any angle between base down to base horizontal.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bulb to ceiling clearance

    I only install gaslite open flame fixtures in clothes closets anymore because they give off a softer glow.


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