REVIEWED Fire-rated downlights

When should you use fire-rated downlights, and when you should, what one do you select from the dozens on the market? We bench test and rate the latest products from the major brands. Report by Lux technical editor Alan Tulla.

 

Report by Lux technical editor Alan Tulla

Did you know that different fire test standards can apply to downlights?

I didn’t, and what should have been just a single line mentioning the applicable standard turned into quite a lengthy investigation. 

One simple way of fire-proofing any recessed luminaire is to fit a fire hood or tent over the top of it. You can buy hoods in various sizes for 30 minute, 60 minute and 90 minute fire ratings. They need to be fitted carefully though. You also need to check that, when fitted with a fire hood, the luminaire will not overheat in normal operation. You should be doing this anyway since many installations using recessed luminaires also have thermal insulation above in the void or there can be restricted ventilation. 

However, this article is about recessed downlights where they form an intrinsic part of the fire resistance of the ceiling. There is a huge market for these products. Maybe the two commonest areas are: fitted to the ceiling of the top storey (e.g. beneath the loft or roof space) and kitchen areas on the ground floor where there is a false ceiling. 

Before fitting fire-rated downlights, you should always what resistance (30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes) is required. The people most likely to know are the architect or building services engineer. If the ceiling is of a non-standard construction, check what fire test standard is applicable. 

The Lighting Industry Association recommends that luminaires conform to BS 476-21. It also recommends conformance to BS EN ISO 140-3:1995 and 140-6:1998 which concerns the acoustic performance of the internal or separating floor. 

The other relevant fire-test standard is EN 1365. This is a much more recent standard than BS 476. In fact, the test method and time/temperature curve is identical to BS 476 but there is a difference in how the thermocouple is used. 

In a way, the term 'fire-rated downlight' is slightly misleading since the condition of the luminaire during and after the test is irrelevant. The intention of both test standards is to determine whether installing the luminaires compromises the integrity of the floor and ceiling construction. 

Fire testing is, quite justifiably, expensive. Always ask to see a copy of the fire test certificate for the particular luminaire you are using. 

Please remember that this article is a brief explanation of how the Fire Regulations (Part B) apply. The fire resistance of buildings is a specialist area of expertise and we recommend that you should always ask for advice from a competent person.

Aurora m10CX

Aurora has a huge range of fire rated downlights. One of the main features of its M Series is that it doesn't have an external driver. Instead, there is an integrated circuit on board. This also removes the need for the electrolytic capacitor, which is usually considered to be the weakest component in an LED downlight. 

The CX downlight has variable colour temperature from 2700K – 6400K and this can be altered remotely from a wall switch making it ideal for hospitality, retail, commercial and residential  applications . 

It’s good to see that it is also tested to BS EN ISO 140-3:1995 and 140-6:1998 Acoustics.

Fire test standard supplied: BS EN 1365-2

 

Contact Aurora >>>

Collingwood H2 Pro 550

This is a comprehensively designed downlight. As well as being fire rated and mains dimmable, it is also IP65 so you can use it in bathrooms. The most recent version requires a depth of just 56mm above the ceiling. 

Collingwood also claims (backed by independent lab testing) that flicker is less than 1 per cent. It has also been tested under the LIA Verified scheme. 

There is also a choice of 11 bezels (six round, five square). A useful feature is that they can be fitted once the downlight is in place. This allows for finishing touches to the ceiling to be made without masking the light. 

One extra, useful touch is that the 20-page leaflet has a large comparison chart showing all the options and combinations available.  

Fire test standard supplied: BS EN 1365-2. Also LIA Verified scheme approved downlight. 

 

Contact Collingwood >>>

Integral LED Fire rated downlight

This is a simple, compact and attractive downlight. Integral LED is a very technically competent company. It has its own labs in the UK and every product is fully tested. We have reviewed some of its other products and they consistently perform very well. 

This unit is IP65 and solidly constructed with a cast aluminium heat sink. The chip-on-board LED is set up higher in the downlight than many of its competitors thus reducing any chance of glare. It also has a loop-in, loop-out driver making it easier to install.

As well as fire resistance, it is also tested for sound insulation and air tightness BS EN 13141. 

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-21 and 140-6:1998 Acoustics and others. 

 

Contact Integral >>>

JCC FG LED

The FG LED series is available in three outputs from 380 lm to 850 lm. Colour temperature can be either 3000K or 4000K. The most powerful is the IP65 FG LED 10. This has a 60 degree beam as standard. This wider angle makes it suitable for kitchens where you want more general lighting. 

The downlight is constructed as a perforated steel can with the finned heat sink inside. The driver is attached to the top of the can thus giving extra height to the downlight. This creates a much larger air pocket and JCC say that this means you can lay insulation directly over the fitting. 

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-21

 

Contact JCC >>>

Lumanor

This is a plain, budget-range cast aluminium IP65 downlight. It is only available in 10W and 2700K or 4500K. Five interchangeable bezels are available.  The driver is remote and fitted with a short inter-connecting lead.
The fire test certificate supplied contained the barest minimum of information. 

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-21

 

Contact Lumanor >>> 

Lumaxled Firemax

A simple, well made, cast aluminium IP65 downlight. It is a 9W unit and available in 2,700K, 3,000K, 4,000K and 5,000K. CRI is claimed to be >85.  The driver is remote and fitted with a “fast connection” type lead. It comes with a comprehensive data sheet.

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-21. 

 

Contact Lumaxled >>>

Nexus Luceco Atom

This is taller than most other downlights at 110mm. This is partly due to the bracket over the top which keeps any insulation clear of the heat sink and cable exit.  It is rated at 5.2W and available in 2700K and 4000K versions. There is a 38 degree beam and the downlight is rated at IP65. Three bezels are available. 

It has integrated circuitry so no separate driver is required. 

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-21

 

Contact Nexus >>>

PAL All-In-One

This comes packaged with four bezels so there is no need to decide which you want before you buy.  Another unusual feature is that driver has a slider switch so you can change the colour temperature from 3000K to 4000K or 6000K. Of course, you have to do this before inserting it in the ceiling but it does mean that you could change the colour temperature in the future. The beam is 40 degrees.

One bonus of this product is that it is LIA Lab verified. 

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-21

 

Contact PAL >>>

LED Group Robus Triumph Activate

The 8W Triumph Activate downlight has an integrated driver thus eliminating the electrolytic capacitor. It has a decent lens and reflector system giving a clean 38 degree beam. A 60-degree version is also available. 

The general construction and wiring is very solid. It’s sometimes the little things that count, such as the firmly fixed plastic-coated spring clips that don’t fall out and the solid Swift cable connectors. These, together with the comprehensive installation instructions, data sheets and sales literature, give one a feeling of confidence. 

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-20 and BS 476-21

 

Contact LED Group >>>

Scolmore Inceptor Max LED4500

There is a whole range of different products under the Scolmore group banner. Click wiring accessories may be the most well-known brand.  Lighting products are branded Ovia. 
In essence, this is an IP65, 8W with a 35 degree beam available in 2700K and 4000K with three bezel finishes. The company also makes a tiltable version. 

A feature that sets this unit apart is that the driver is attached to the downlight body by a flexible strap. In the standard position, the driver is directly above the downlight and requires a recessed depth of 95mm. Unclipping the driver and flipping it over means that a depth of only 61mm is needed. You then need about 250mm (in any single direction) to accommodate the driver and Click Flow connector. 

Fire test standard supplied: BS 476-21 

 

Contact Scomore >>>

UK Led Lighting Nico

This is a simple, budget-range, cast aluminium, 7W or 9W, IP65 downlight. It is available in 2700K, 3000K, 4000K and 5000K. Six interchangeable bezels are available. Beam width is 36 or 55 degrees. The driver is remote and fitted with a short interconnecting lead. It is just 63mm high but, like all other downlights, you need to follow the installation instructions carefully to ensure it doesn’t overheat. 

Comprehensive fire test data was supplied for this unit.

Test standard supplied: BS 476-21

 

Contact UK Led Lighting  >>>

Contact Nexus Industries Ltd  >>>

 

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