Over the past five years there have been a significant number of fires related to Halogen down-lights. Halogen down-lights create a lot of heat and if they are not correctly insulated, installed and maintained they can be the cause of a house fire. Halogen lights generate extremely high temperatures, that can reach up to a scorching 380ºC.
“Did you know that you might have a very real fire risk in your home? This everyday item can potentially be more dangerous than an unattended pot on a stove. The worrying part is that you can’t even see it happening.” – eLighting
Why are Halogen down-lights so dangerous?
Halogens can reach scorching temperatures of up to 380°C. This is an incredibly high temperature, especially when you consider that the heat is confined to your roof cavity. These Halogens can get so hot, that they can cause loose insulation to catch on fire. Therefore, your insulation (such as your Pink Batts) cannot be installed over a Halogen down-light fitting. Gaps must be left in the roofing insulation around the light fittings for safety reasons. While safety is obviously important, having these ‘gaps’ in your insulation defeats the purpose of the insulation itself. With patchy insulation, you’ll automatically be losing heat and energy through these gaps. This results in higher energy usage and higher running costs for your home. Aside from this energy loss, the most worrying part is that you probably don’t have only ‘one’ Halogen down-light in your home. Most homes that we retrofit have up to 40 Halogens, each posing their own individual fire risk.
“You’d expect to smell a fire in your home, or be alerted by one of your smoke detectors, but smoke detectors can’t detect smoke in your roof cavity.” – eLighting.
What if we have the required insulation gaps?
Even if the insulation is installed correctly in the first place, drafts can cause loose fibres to blow onto the light fittings. That was the case in an Auckland home in 2011. The owners of the smoking home were not even aware that their house was about to burst into flames.
The fire chief estimated that the roof insulation had been smouldering for 24 hours after a draft had blown fibres onto a Halogen down-light fitting. The smouldering had spread across 25 square metres of the insulation and burnt through 3 wooden beams. It was lucky that the neighbours had noticed the smoke as the outcome could have been a lot worse.
What can you do about it?
If you are concerned about your Halogen lights, then there is something you can do about it. We recommend that you retrofit your lighting from Halogen down-lights to LED lights instead. LEDs produce the same amount of light as a Halogen bulb, yet they operate at much cooler temperatures. LEDs can reach 40ºC compared to an out-dated Halogen down-light. So therefore, LEDs are almost 90% cooler than the older incandescent counterparts – Halogens.
- always use a licensed electrical contractor to replace your Halogen down-lights and ensure that the new LED replacements meet the current New Zealand Standards.
- never install Halogen down-lights near structural timber members such as; roof, ceiling or floor beams.
- ensure the Halogen lights and transformers are not covered by ceiling insulation such as; pulped paper, rock wool, fibreglass batts or polyester batts. The heat from these Halogen lights can cause the insulation to smoulder or ignite.
- when having renovations or work done to the home, ensure the existing ceiling insulation does not come in contact with the Halogen down-lights.
vermin often like to nest within roof and floor cavities. As the halogen lights and ceiling insulation provide heat for nesting, regularly check for damage caused by vermin activity that could potentially cause a fire.
- replace ALL Halogens with cooler, more cost-efficient LEDs.
Want to change your Halogens to LEDs?
Contact Richard Mason on 027 502 6674 or firstname.lastname@example.org