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Thread: Are my recessed lights IC (insulation contact) rated?

  1. #1

    Default Are my recessed lights IC (insulation contact) rated?

    Hi All

    I was replacing a bulb the other day and felt a lot of cold air come from the recessed light can. I went in the attic and noticed that the insulation is placed a few inches a way from the cans. I'm guessing they are not IC rated, but is there a way I can find out? The house was built in 1988. And if they are not IC rated, how can I insulate then without having to replace them? I have a bunch.

    Thanks for any help and advice.

    Beary

  2. #2
    Architect Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    Look at the nameplate. It should say who made it, when, where, what the maximum wattage is, and stipulations on operation and installation (such as if insulation can contact it). It is usually is located on the inside of the can where the lamp sits. You may have to remove the trim ring to see it well enough to read.

    If it isn't IC rated then you can build a box over it (with clearances recommended by manuf.) to seal it and then place insulation over it. These boxes usually have to be at least 24" on each side... Do what the manuf. says when building boxes.
    Spaceman Spiff aka Mike

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    It might almost be more energy efficient and similar costs to replace them with sealed IC units vs building boxes. A good portion of the cost of the things is in the trim which you can reuse. The IC units I have are air sealed as well, so if your rough hole through the ceiling is properly sized and or sealed, I get no air infiltration through mine.

    IC contact rated units are (often) more boxy, while the standard ones are barely a single layer, usually with vents.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the advice guys. I went to Lowes at lunch and found that I can't tell the difference between IC and none IC cans. I like the idea of replacing just the cans, so I'm thinking in that direction if my lights are not IC rated. We have a lot of recessed lights, so this could be a long task. It seems silly that they haven't come up with some kind of cheap cover for these things, I'm sure there are a lot of them out there. Some kind of thick fireproof fabric would work I think. Maybe that is a market I can tap into to make my millions. Well thousands anyway.

    Thanks again for the help.

    Beary

  5. #5

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    I'm not a pro at this subject but it seems to me that there is such an item to put around boxes and cans for blown insulation. Check out / research techniques for blown insulation...they might give you some tips... and keep you from inventing something that probably has already been invented.....sorry if I burst your bubble.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Randyj
    I'm not a pro at this subject but it seems to me that there is such an item to put around boxes and cans for blown insulation. Check out / research techniques for blown insulation...they might give you some tips... and keep you from inventing something that probably has already been invented.....sorry if I burst your bubble.
    No bubble bursting here, I just want an easy and fairly inexpensive way to keep cold air from coming through the cans. Thanks for the help.

    Beary

  7. #7
    Architect Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    The two parts that make up an IC can are:
    1) the can won't overheat with rated wattage lamps and thermal off and on.
    2) insulation won't catch on fire from excess heat.

    If you are up to replacing the cans, go for it. Then you don't have to worry about either of the items listed above...

    Now... IC rated doesn't mean air-tight. Even though you may have insulation all over your new IC cans there can still be air flowing around them.
    Spaceman Spiff aka Mike

  8. #8
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    On the inside of the can should be a label. Halo cans will have the letters IC after the model # eg H1IC. Since you have access in the attic, you would be well served to replace with ICAT ( AT being air tight ).

    One of the features of an IC can will be a temp. limit switch, usuall a little rectangular box, which will cause the lights to go on and off peridically if you put too high a wattage bulb in.

  9. #9
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
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    Default airtight is key to insulation

    hi
    i want to suggest something here, and it may appear to be --warning-- glib flip impertinent irreverent and allround badass mischiefmaking. Still, there is a good principle at work that is scientifically proven.

    Any way you can seal all the air is a good solution, provided you also take into consideration how the heat may build up in the space you have sealed. So, sealing around and behind your light fixture is a GOOD thing, and not prohibited, and not a bad thing. The consequences are that you will have light-bulb-warmed air being held in a bubble, a three quarters closed container, and in summer you may actually want the opposite, i.e. to let heated air escape in tot hte attic and not stay in the light fixture.

    Back to square one: if create an airtight "container" around the fixture, and use a material that isn't going to degrade under the effect of the heated air that will be contained in the container you create, and if you are not creating a space so small that it makes the light bulb act as a stove - which would raise temperature too high for the wires themselves not to degrade -- then you have done the right thing.

    I am not there on site in your house, I don't know what your attic looks like, etc etc. So you will act without relying on me for anything specific.

    In any attic that I have been in, I would consider using any large glass or metal container, placed over the light fixture, and then sealed at the bottom edge too. Then I would have made a container holding the warm air in, that the light bulb creates. No more exchange of hot and cold air, summer or winter. Then, to insulate this new airtight container in the attic, I would put something around it, something that does not let air move, so it has to be a kind of foam to start with as the first layer. I would also cover any fiberglass insulation in any attic with plastic sheeting or old plastic bags, to hinder air exchange, since fiberglass open on one side lets air move in and out of it, and that prevents it from being effective.

    Where I live the climate is so cold that airtightness is the big thing to design and build in, and almost nobody has leaky light cans letting air escape. Just for info, i'll add that your entire warm conditioned house air is seeping through the gaps, not just the air that the bulb heats. The pressure of lighter air forces warmed air up and out. The fact that you felt cold air coming in, was just dumb luck on that day:: the flow was reversed at that leak at that moment in time. There are plenty of other small leaks (windows, other fixtures, vents) so the flow can be reversed anywhere.

    You can get roof valleys (9"x9") or flashing (aluminum or galvanized steel) and make a box/tube with a top, or you might find 6",7",8" ventilation pipe, and make the tube with that. If an old glass pickle jar, or a couple old Folger's or Maxwell House coffee tins do the trick, don't tell anyone. Let it be our secret.

    If you buy the UL tested fixtures, you'll be spending an extra $30 or so per fixture, and this will have transferred funds to the capital structure of the firm to compensate for many things including development (thought process) and formal contractual insurance coverage, and it may give you peace of mind to buy an official product, but you may not gain much real-life insurance coverage.

    If you use compact fluorescent bulbs you won't generate sufficient heat to have to worry about heat buildup, after you seal to stop airflow.

    david

  10. #10
    In the Trades brownizs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beary
    Hi All

    I was replacing a bulb the other day and felt a lot of cold air come from the recessed light can. I went in the attic and noticed that the insulation is placed a few inches a way from the cans. I'm guessing they are not IC rated, but is there a way I can find out? The house was built in 1988. And if they are not IC rated, how can I insulate then without having to replace them? I have a bunch.

    Thanks for any help and advice.

    Beary
    IC cans are a can inside of a can. There is an airspace between the cans, and clearly on the label, it will state IC after the model number. You can tell by just looking at the two types that they are different.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member MarkTLS's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Easy Solution to making our Recessed Housing Air-Tight for about $5

    A number of manufacturers make a "Air Tight" Trim for your recessed housing. This trim has a gasket to make sure it seals close to the ceiling as well as a tight cone ending in hole where your socket will attach, again with another gasket. This will make your older recessed housing air tight. These "Air Tight" trims come in all kinds of finishes and styles. Hope this helps in some small way.
    Thank you.
    Mark Scott,
    Lead Designer for Total Recessed Lighting.
    www.TotalRecessedLighting.com

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    you do realize this thread is from 2007? Good plug for your business there Mark...

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member MarkTLS's Avatar
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    Default Recessed Lighting comments from 2007, updated on 8-9-2011

    Chad, thanks for the comment. Yes, I did know that the original post was from 2007. I have found that all the information out there on most sites are very dated. I have been working with recessed lighting for 18 years and I see the same problems and questions over and over come to our customer service department. I can only guess the reason for this, is there just is not much up-to-date information on recessed lighting, and all the new products and industry changes out there. If there was, we would not get the same questions over and over. (there does seem to be a lot of mis-information if you know what I mean)

    I purposely put my full name and company in my posts because I believe in full transparency when someone in the industry is posting on this forum.

    Hopefully I will have the chance to work with you on one of your projects.

    Sincerely,
    Mark Scott
    Lead Lighting Designer
    Total Lighting Supply

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member Chad Schloss's Avatar
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    I just bought about 15 or so can lights after doing a little research on placement, design, etc. I am currently remodeling a repo house. I have yet to install the lights, but I had some concerns and issues when I was learning what I wanted to buy. I ended up going with Halo 6" cans, some remodel and some new install ones because I have a section of ceiling completely torn out in that area. The only thing that I had a complaint with is that no one tells you anywhere that I found that if you buy the air tite cans you don't need air tite trim. this should be stated somewhere. I would assume that the two go together. Another thing I still don't know yet is I had to buy 3 new construction 6" cans, but i had to get shorter ones. they are 5.5" tall i think for a 2x6 framing. the normal ones are taller and fit into a 2x8 bay. are the lights that are going to go in the shorter cans going to project out or do i need to buy shorter lamps? where do you set the wingnut on the inside of the cans, as in where is it best to make the light sit at? I still have to pick out trim, I should ask you some questions on that too.

  15. #15
    DIY Junior Member MarkTLS's Avatar
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    Default Recessed Air Tight (AT) housings and trims and shallow housings

    Chad,
    Great post, shows the problems people have selecting the proper housing for a specific project. I guess one of the problems with recessed lighting is the 1000's of variables. They make a recessed housing for most any application and installation problem. As to the Air-Tight, they make both housings for new projects that are both IC and AT approved as well as air tight trims for when the housing already exists and you want to stop the air from escaping into the attic. You are correct, they do not tell you this anywhere, including the web site of the company I work for. (I am going to ask about this). As to the wing-nut adjustment in the housing, there is no set position as there are so many lamps (bulbs) that could be used. You will just have to experiment a little. If you are using a Par30 bulb for your project, they do offer both a short neck and a long neck bulb. Make sure however that your trim is set up for a par 30 bulb. Or call me and I am always willing to help out. 505-717-7142

    Mark Scott
    Lead Lighting Designer
    www.TotalLightingSupply.com

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