fire rated lights and downlights; the technology

Many of us have heard of the fire rated lights for ceilings, and we may have a lot of questions about them; below we have tried to answer some of them(including the standards that speak about them). Also, read about the key components of the fire rated ceiling lights, or the way they work if tested through fire.

Why do we need Fire Protection lights/downlights? The building regulations require that recessed fixtures must be installed in the buildings so that the fire resistance of the ceiling would not be compromised, helping thus to control the spreading fire.

Do the fire rated lights/downlights protect only agains the spreading of the fire? Well, the fire rated downlights protect against the spreading of the fire and not only: these downlights are constructed in such a way that they are resistant to moisture, resistant to the passage of sound, and they stop the air leakage.

What is the fire resistance, and how do you test a light to see how fire resistant it is? The fire resistance is an ability of a surface to withstand a fire; it is measured in minutes. A certain surface/item/object/downlight is proven through destructive fire testing and assessment.

Where exactly do we need to use the fire protection products? The building regulations clearly state that any residential dwelling with the top floor height of up to 18m above the ground should have ceilings resistant to fire to up to 60 minutes. The residential building that have a top floor up to 30m should have ceilings resistant to fire for up to 90 minutes. This means that the downlights/recessed lights fixed on the ceiling have to be fire-rated.

What current standards are there today in this area, and what do they relate to? The current standard in UK is the British Standard BS 476: part 20 series; also, the European Standards (BS ENs) – these 2 exist for different types of building elements from floors to walls and ceilings. Other related building and electrical regulations state:

Building regulations Document B – “Fire Safety”:
Every joint, imperfection of fit or opening to allow services to pass through should be adequately protected by sealing or fire stoping so that the fire resistance of the element is not impaired.

Building regulations Document E – “Resistance to the passage of sound”, January 2005 revision:
Floors and ceilings provide adequate resistance to airborne and impact sound.

Building regulations Document C – “Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture”:
To avoid excessive moisture transfer to roof voids, penetrations should be filled and sealed; this is particularly important in areas of high humidity, i.e bathrooms and kitchens.

Building regulations Document L – “Conservation of fuel and power”:
Reasonable provision shall be made for the conservation of fuel and power in buildings by limiting heat losses through the fabric of the building.

The I.E.E. wiring regulations – BS7671, Regulation 527-02:
The openings remaining after the passage of wiring systems(including downlights) in ceilings, walls, etc. are required to be sealed according to the degree of fire resistance required of the ceiling, wall, etc.

How does the fire rated technology work in the case of the downlights? The fire rated downlights contain a intumescent material(a carbon polymer matrix which, when it is subjected to heat – like the heat generated by a fire – will soften and release gases that are trapped within it; this causes the intumescent material to expand and maintain the integrity of the fire barrier) that has special properties in the case of a fire.

Fire rated downlights – key components and explanations:

  1. New terminal block –  it allows loop-in, loop-out wiring with twin and earth cable;
  2. Superior ventilation – for optimum lamp and downlight operating temperature;
  3. Integrated intumescent material – seals the downlights;
  4. High spiring height – for installation in ceiling materials up to 35mm;
  5. Lamps – Dichoic or aluminium reflector lamps may be used; designed for continuous usage;
  6. Silicon – seals to prevent air leakage into cold spaces;
  7. Steel body – acts as a supplementary fire and noise barrier;
  8. Recessed spring mountings – for maximum cut-out clearance.

Fire testing – 90 minute fire tested downlights

Stage 1 – The fire starts (the recessed light, fire downlight, is properly installed in the ceiling);

Stage 2 – The intumescent material starts to expand and bridge the downlight can, as the fire goes on.

Stage 3 – The intumescent material completely bridges the downlight can, maintaining the ceiling’s fire integrity. Thus, the fire is not allowed to go through the ceiling to the next floor/level.

You can check out our online offer of downlights/ceiling lights or wall lights and fire rated lights(from Aurora), and then buy online via our secure website. Also, read more about the Fire Hood and the protection it offers(including the technology behind it).


  1. does anyone know when, under building regulations, it became a requirement to maintain the integrity of fire rating of ceilings when installing down lights?

    1. Because under Regs domestic floors need 1/2 hr FR. The plasterboard is essential to the FR and if it is significantly punctured then the FR is reduced.

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