Over the past decade there have been a significant number of fires caused by halogen flood lights and downlights around NSW and all of Australia. Halogen lighting has only come into popular usage since the early 2000s, but these lights create a lot of heat. If halogen floodlights are not set up safely away from flammable items and secured from falling or touching anything that might ignite, fires can easily be started. The same problem can occur with halogen downlights that are not insulated, installed and maintained correctly. These safety issues occur because halogen lights can heat up to temperatures as high as 370C.
If youre considering installing a flood light or downlights we would recommend considering using LED lights instead of halogen bulbs. LED lighting is newer technology than halogen lighting, and can be manufactured cheaply. LEDs also dont use as much energy as halogen bulbs and dont heat up anywhere near as hot. For the safety aspect alone we recommend using LED or solar lights for your floodlights and downlights over halogens, and theyll also save you a lot of money in electricity bills! A 150W LED bulb is powerful enough to replace a 500W halogen flood light. Thats a massive reduction in electricity usage in just one light fitting! If your interested in LED downlights or solar flood lights, take a look at some different models online and see what bets fits your lighting needs.
If you really must install halogen lighting or already have some installed in your home or office, take a look at our checklist below to ensure you are safe from any electrical issues and potential fires.
Downlight and Floodlight Fire Safety
- When having the downlights installed, ensure you use a licensed electrician and the lights meet the current Australian Standards.
- Ensure the downlights or floodlights are never installed near timber e.g. in beam in the ceiling.
- Make sure the transformers and the lights are not covered by ceiling insulation as the heat from the lights can cause it to ignite.
- During renovations ensure the any ceiling insulation does not fall on our touch the halogen downlights.
- Ensure that the movement of cooling air around your downlights is not impaired by thermal insulation or anything else.
- If using thermal insulation that is not fixed in its position a barrier made of fire-resistant material needs to be installed to maintain clearance in accordance with AS 60598.1 and 60598.2.
- Regularly check the lights to prevent contact with wind blown debris around the floodlights or in the roof cavity above the downlights.
- Maintain the lights by checking them regularly and ensure that there has been no damage cause to them or any of the wiring by rats or mice in the ceiling.
Additional Safety Tips
- Fire alarms will only detect smoke if it is below the alarm, so they wont detect fires that start above them in the ceiling.
- Infra-Red coated bulbs and LEDs both use less power (and therefore emit less heat) than halogen bulbs. Consider switching to them instead.
- Only install lights as bright as you need them. Excess lighting causes excess heat, and that could be the difference between a safe home and an unsafe one.
- Turn off lights when theyre not being used. Save on electricity and reduce your fire risk.
- Consider buying covers for your ceiling downlights, they can be purchased for as little as $15.
For more information on halogen downlights, take a look at the Fire & Rescue NSW website here.