While installing lights in a home, there are several things to consider. They generate heat and can be a fire hazard if not installed properly.

IC vs non IC recessed lighting is the most important consideration while installing lighting fixtures. Let’s dive into it.

IC vs non IC recessed lighting

What Does IC Mean for Recessed Lighting?

If you don’t prefer to have light fixtures hanging out of the ceiling, you can install recessed lighting. Recessed lighting needs a different kind of light fixture because the bulbs generate heat when they are turned on.

To ensure that the light bulb does not become a fire hazard when used in recessed lighting, you need to check if it is IC rated.

IC means insulated contact. As the name suggests, IC rated light fixtures can be installed safely in spots where they will be in contact with insulated surfaces. They are designed to prevent fires in these situations.

What does IC mean for recessed lighting

IC vs Non IC Recessed Lighting

Learning to differentiate between IC rated and non IC rated lighting fixtures is extremely important because it tells you which kind of fixtures are appropriate for recessed lighting. The wrong kind of light fixtures can be a safety hazard.

Here’s the difference between IC rated and non IC rated fixtures so that you can be sure that your home has the right kind of light fixture:

IC Rated Light Fixture

The ceiling is already insulated, you need an IC (insulated contact) rated light fixture. It is believed that these fixtures will not be a safety hazard when they come in contact with combustible elements or insulated surfaces.

There are regulations that state that all light fixtures installed in insulated ceilings should be IC rated. IC rated light fixtures are supposed to make homes and other buildings safer.

IC rated basically means that the fixture will not be affected by the heat produced by the light bulb when it is on. This lowers the chances of a fire inside the home.

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Double cans are most common in IC rated light fixtures. They have two metal cans installed one over the other. The outermost can stays in contact with the insulated surface and does not heat up enough to start a fire.

You also need IC rated light fixtures in soundproofed rooms or basements, as the soundproofing elements are installed in the joists overhead.

Non IC Rated Light Fixture

If the lighting fixture is installed in a non-insulated ceiling or surface, you can use a non-IC rated light fixture. They have only one can as opposed to the double can structure in IC rated light fixtures.

They can get heated up and the heat inside the cavity eventually dissipates on its own with time.

There are some circumstances where a non-IC rated light fixture can be installed in an insulated ceiling.

For example, when the recessed part does not have any contact with the air outside, which is always colder. If it does come in contact with the air outside, it will create condensation because the cold air will flow into the living space.

In this case, it is possible to use bulbs with a higher wattage as the cavity where the light fixture is placed has more space and lets the heat dissipate freely.

How to Tell If Recessed Lighting Is IC Rated

How to tell if recessed lighting is IC rated

It is important to be able to tell if a lighting fixture in your home is IC rated or not, as it is an essential part of ensuring that your home is safe. Here’s how to check if the recessed lighting in your home is IC rated:

The simplest and easiest way is to go up to the attic and take a look at the fixture from the other side. The label will clearly tell you if it is IC rated.

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If this is not a viable option, find a ladder or stool and get close to the light. Remove the outer part and the bulb. You should now be able to see the can that holds the bulb. If there are any kinds of openings like holes or slits in it, it is clear that it is not IC rated.

Look for the sticker with the details of the fixture in the can. It should clearly mention if the fixture is IC rated.


Are All Recessed Lights IC Rated?

All recessed lights are not IC rated. You need to check to see if they are IC rated if you want to ensure that there are no fire hazards in your home.

You can easily check this from the other end by going into your attic or by removing the outer trims and light bulb and looking for the label inside the fixture.

Ideally, a light fixture in recessed lighting should be IC rated. If you discover that the fixtures in your house are not IC rated, you need to replace them and get suitable IC rated ones to ensure that your house is safe from fires.

Are all recessed lights IC rated

Can You Put Insulation over IC Rated Recessed Lights?

IC rated light fixtures are specifically designed to withstand the heat produced by insulated surfaces. They have 2 cans to help contain and dissipate the heat and prevent combustion.

Thus, you can put insulation over IC rated recessed lights as they are built to withstand being in contact with insulating materials.

However, you should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines before putting insulation over your IC rated recessed lights to make sure you are not creating any safety hazards.

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Are IC Rated Recessed Lights Airtight?

IC rated does not automatically mean that the lights are airtight as well. Airtight IC rated lights are specified as IC-AT rated, so is the label or sticker that says IC-AT, the lights are airtight.

An easy way to check is to go up to the attic with the light turned on. If light spills into the attic, the fixture is not airtight. It will also make the attic really hot and can increase your electricity bill.

Generally, this means that the light fixture is leaking air. It could have holes in the can that are letting the air escape. You need to either fix the light or replace it, as it is not safe to keep using it.

Is IC Rated the Same as Fire Rated?

It might seem like they mean the same thing, but IC rated is not the same thing as fire rated.

IC-rated light fixtures are meant to prevent fires. They help keep the house safe from fire hazards and reduce the chances of a fire breaking out from the heat generated by the light bulb.

Fire-rated means that the fixture will keep the fire from spreading. It acts as a barrier and stops the fire from spreading further. It is meant to contain a fire that has already broken out, it doesn’t play any part in preventing a fire.

Parting Thoughts

IC vs non IC rated is a crucial consideration in recessed lighting. To prevent fires and maintain safety protocols, you need to make sure that you have installed the right kind of fixture in your house.

Make sure you get a professional opinion while installing light fixtures in recessed lighting.

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