Tag Archives: LED

Building Regulations Part B and Fire Rated Downlights (Updated 31.08.17

Mark Walshe, Technical and Quality
Manager, LED Group and Lighting Association
Ireland Technical Committee member.

When you consider the regular pattern of recessed luminaires that is likely to greet you when you cast your eyes up to the ceiling in many new homes, the concept of a fire barrier may lose much of its integrity. How many perforations does it take for a ceiling to lose its fire rating? Facetiousness aside, non-fire-rated downlights will not provide the same level of fire protection as the ceiling in the event of a fire.

Fire-stopping of any openings in a fire barrier is a serious health and safety concern, as outlined in the Building Regulations 2017 Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety Volume 2 Dwelling Houses, updated earlier this year. Section 3.7 and particularly Section 3.7.5 in Volume 2 deals directly with the requirements of fires in dwelling houses.

Although you won’t find downlights mentioned explicitly in the document, it is clearly spelt out that any openings in a fire barrier element must be fire-stopped to ensure that fire resistance is not impaired. This would imply that there is a requirement for recessed lighting to have integral fire protection, or for non-fire-rated recessed lighting to be installed in conjunction with a suitable fire-hood.

Technical Guidance Document B – Fire Safety Volume 1 Non-Dwelling Houses is currently under review and expected for release in 2018 so, for now, the 2006 version of Technical Guidance Document B remains applicable. This document again sets out the requirement for all openings in a fire barrier to be fire-stopped.

However, there is a caveat in the case of timber-frame apartment blocks. These may use a compartment floor where the ceiling is effectively a sacrificial layer and does not constitute a fire barrier. There was a time when LED fittings with integral fire protection were simply not conducive to this application due to high cost, low performance and poor reliability linked to over-heating, but that day is well and truly over. A good quality LED FRD (fire rated downlight) such  as the ROBUS Triumph would be an ideal choice in this instance as it, and similar high-quality products, tick all the relevant boxes. Features of the ROBUS Triumph include:

— Rated for 30/60/90 minute fire rated ceiling/floor constructions=> fire safe;

— It is eligible for the SEAI Triple E ACA Scheme => energy and cost incentives;

— It meets the acoustic testing requirements of the Building Regulations => insulates noise;

— It meets the air tightness test requirements of the Building Regulations => minimises air leaks;

— It has a quick-fix connector and insulation spacer guard => ease of install;

— It has a 5-year warranty => reliability and peace of mind.

Fire testing of LED FRDs to the relevant standard (BS476 Part 21) is an expensive business as it involves constructing suitable ceiling box samples (complete with fittings) to be tested in a furnace at up to 1000°C for 30/60/90 minutes duration. Then there is the specialist work of analysing the test results with consideration of load bearing in order to make a judgement on the overall fire rating of the fitting.

Proof of meeting these requirements should be requested as part of any fire safety certification or risk assessment. Generally, for new builds and refurbishments with material changes, the only situations where FRDs need not be considered as essential in the case of recessed lighting installations are in bungalows or in the roof ceiling of multi-storey dwellings.

It is the responsibility of the Assigned Certifier to ensure that a building meets the requirements of the Building Control Regulations as set out in the Building Control Act, 1990 by means of the signed Certification of Compliance on Completion. The most straightforward means to achieve this is to follow the appropriate Technical Guidance Documents, as otherwise, alternative evidence must be provided to prove that the regulations are met.

In addition, for non-dwellings the Building Control Authority must issue a Fire Safety Certificate. All stakeholders in the installation of recessed light fittings, from installers through to building control authorities, would do well to take note of the requirements as set out in Part B in relation to installation of recessed lighting.

If your home had a hole in the roof, you wouldn’t think twice about plugging it to prevent a leak. Shouldn’t the same consideration be paid to the holes in our ceilings in the event of fire?

LAI prepares for International Year of Light

“Light plays a central role in all aspects of human activity and industries based on light are major economic drivers”, says Gay Byrne, newly-elected Chairman of the LAI. “They create jobs, and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture, health and tourism. Light is also important to the appreciation of art, and optical technologies are essential in understanding and preserving cultural heritage.”

A comprehensive international report published by McKinsey & Co in 2011 predicts that the total global lighting market will have revenues somewhere in the region of €111 billion by 2020. As the years progress,an ever-increasing percentage will be new, technology-driven, energy-efficient lighting. Indeed, a recent report emanating from the US says that the global market for energy efficient lighting alone will be €23 billion in 2015.

According to Gay, it is important to understand the underlying factors influencing this market surge, especially in relation to the emphasis on energy efficient lighting. For a start, world population growth (currently at seven billion), along with increased urbanisation, is fuelling this massive demand for lighting and lighting products. This growth pattern is strongest in commercial lighting, but the pace of residential lighting growth is catching up.

At the same time, climate change and resource scarcity are of increasing concern with Governments around the world – including Ireland – responding with greater regulation, especially in relation to energy usage. Given that lighting accounts for something like 20% of all energy consumed, it is not surprising that it has come under the microscope.

”For the most part”, says Gay, “established lighting manufacturers, along with some new market entrants, have responded magnificently to this challenge. They have invested massive funds in research with the most significant development being that of LED technology. According to some industry commentators LEDs have the potential to reduce global lighting-related energy consumption from the 20% already mentioned to as low as 4%, and that is apart from all the other benefits associated with LED technology. ”

However, as with all new emerging technologies – and particularly ones that represents a quantum leap forward over traditional technologies – there is the danger of misrepresentation and abuse. In this respect LED has proved to be no exception.

To begin with, some of the claims made for LEDs by irresponsible market players in respect of performance, longevity and life-cycle costs were quite blatantly untrue. They created a false impression and unreal level of expectation within the marketplace. The relatively low investment entry level – coupled with the lack of industry standardisation and regulatory controls – compounded this problem. The result was a proliferation of cheap, lowperforming LEDs that complied with no standards.

“While this has undoubtedly caused confusion in the marketplace”, agrees Gay, “responsible LED manufacturers worldwide have responded accordingly. They have commenced a drive to educate both professionals and consumers alike as to the real benefits and features associated with LEDs.”

One of the primary LAI objectives is to do exactly that in Ireland. Standardisation, product quality, regulatory compliance, education and training are the strands by which LAI aims to achieve that goal. All parties in the supply chain – from manufacturers through to the consultant specifier, the wholesaler and the installing contractor – need to fully understand not just LED technology, but all the emerging lighting-related technologies, including controls and communication protocols.

In conclusion, Gay says: “We are already in the process of establishing close working relationships with Ireland’s standards authorities, leading training providers, and those responsible for standards compliance and implementation. In addition, we will shortly commence a major communication drive conveying a generic message relating to lighting aimed at all involved in the sector.”

As the foregoing illustrates, the emergence of the LAI is a welcome and timely development. This is especially so in Ireland where the drive towards energy efficiency and sustainability, coupled with a market upturn fuelled by replacement and retrofit, will drive increased sales going forward.

LEDs – lively debate at Engineers Ireland

Main speakers Iain McCrea, President-Elect SLL and Mike Simpson, Past-President of CIBSE, SLL & ILP pictured with Derek Mowlds, Chairman CIBSE and Stephen Donohue, DIT.

The recent lecture titled, LEDs: a universal panacea to achieving good lighting with energy efficiency? proved extremely successful with over 80 people in attendance at Engineers Ireland in Dublin 4.

This lighting CPD event was jointly organised by CIBSE Ireland, Society of Light and Lighting (SLL), Engineers Ireland, Institute of Lighting Professionals and the Institute of Engineering and Technology.

The two principal speakers – Iain McCrae and Mike Simpson – delivered enlightening papers regarding the appropriate applications and potential benefits/pitfalls of LED technology in lighting.

Thereafter, a stimulating debate evolved with Iain, Mike and members of the audience exchanging interesting, and sometimes contentious, views.

Greg Hanna, Engineers Ireland with Kevin Kelly, SLL Vice-President; Paddy Craven, Institute of Lighting Professionals; and Dermot Dungan, Engineers Ireland.