IC vs. Non-IC Rated Downlights
Whether you’re remodeling your current home or building a new one, your recessed lights generate heat, and that heat needs to go somewhere. If you don’t want to set your ceiling on fire, it’s important to know when you can use non-IC rated downlights and when you need IC rated fixtures. So what is the difference?
When to Use Non-IC Rated Fixtures
Non-IC rated fixtures require at least 3 inches of space between the metal of the can and the ceiling insulation. Non-IC rated downlights are often used in remodels and ceilings without insulation, such as unfinished attics, unless you’re feeling ambitious and want to rip out your ceiling. These units have a single can design that requires an air pocket to dissipate heat. They are less expensive than IC rated fixtures and can be used with higher Watt bulbs.
If you want to install non-IC rated fixtures in an insulated ceiling, you can use an airtight cover to keep the insulation from touching the can. This allows you to insulate around the cover to help prevent condensation build-up, mold growth, and minimize drafts. You can find these covers premade or make your own using rigid foam insulation and sealing it using insulation foam. Just remember to keep at least 3 inches of space between the metal housing and any other materials.
When to Use IC Rated Fixtures
IC rated fixtures can be used in either insulated or uninsulated ceilings, but are almost always used in new construction rather than remodels. Thanks to a double can or “can within a can” design, only the outer can comes in contact with the insulation and remains cool enough to prevent combustion. This way the insulation in the ceiling can rest directly against the metal without becoming a fire hazard.
When to Retrofit Rather than Replace
If you want to save energy without the frustration of a home improvement project, you can update your recessed lighting to LED without replacing the entire fixture. Installing LED downlight retrofits can be as simple as screwing in a light. Like other LED lights, LED downlights help reduce heat and energy usage and have longer lifespans than their incandescent and halogen counterparts. For a detailed installation walkthrough, watch to video below. Just don’t forget to cut the power first.