ESC advice for Downlighter Safety(1): types of downlighters and tips for installing new downlighters

Downlighters are one of the most modern and attractive ways to brighten up your home, but choosing the wrong downlighter, incorrectly installing it, or fitting the wrong lamp can pose a serious fire risk. The guide below – available online via ESC via Product Testing / Screening – gives advice on how to prevent your downlighters from becoming a fire hazard(whether Fixed Ceiling Downlights or Adjustable Ceiling Downlights). Download the following guide as a pdf via, Downlighter Safety leaflet, or read the first part below and the second part – ESC advice for Downlighter Safety(2): reflector types and checking your existing downlighters.

ESC Advice for Downlighter Safety

The ceiling downlighters (ceiling recessed lights, whether adjustable downlights, fixed downlights, or Fire Rated Downlights) operate at mains voltage (230 Volts) or are powered via a transformer at extra-low voltage (12 Volts). Extra-low voltage (ELV) downlighters are often described as “low voltage” on product packaging. Downlighters may also be described as ‘Fire rated’. This means they have in-built fire protection that completely seals the downlighter in the event of fire in the room below, to prevent the spread of fire and smoke into other areas.

For all downlighters installed into a ceiling, the Electrical Safety Council recommends the use of ‘fire rated’ downlighters fitted with ‘aluminium’ reflector lamps (see ‘Different lamp types’) to ensure fire and excessive heat are kept out of cavities. Also, where a downlighter is likely to be covered with thermal insulation in the cavity, it’s important to choose a downlighter that will operate safely under these conditions.

Are You Thinking of Installing New Downlighters?

The Electrical Safety Council recommends that you use a registered electrician to install your downlighters and that you keep the manufacturer’s instructions in a safe place for future reference, such as when you need to replace a lamp.

When fitting replacement lamps it is good to pay attention to:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions;
  • Check the packaging and the downlighter for details of correct replacement lamps and do not exceed the maximum allowed wattage;
  • Always switch off the electricity before changing a lamp;
  • Don’t fit a dichroic (cool beam) reflector lamp unless the downlighter is specifically designed for use with that type of lamp. If in doubt, fit only aluminium reflector lamps (see ‘Reflector types’ in the next article);
  • If the lampholder is damaged, scorched or corroded, do not fit the lamp, and seek advice from a registered electrician.

Read the second part of this article via, ESC advice for Downlighter Safety(2): reflector types and checking your existing downlighters or download the Downlighter Safety Guide as pdf.


  1. Hi there,
    I am thinking on installing down lighters in my bathroom, I already have a ceiling there but am going to lower the ceiling how far do I have to lower my suspended ceiling to make it safe and have plenty of breathing space for lamps. Also if I fit fire rated lights in the tin does that make it safer from getting too hot…hope you can help me with this query many thanks …P. Wilson

    1. Apologies for our late response, but these questions need to be addressed to an electrician, preferrably the one who will do the work. We can offer some advice, but on electrical specific issues like these, an electrician’s advice is the best.

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