Lighting manufacturer Integral LED has overhauled the fire-rated downlight — seen as one of the ‘toolbox essentials’ used in lighting installations everywhere. The new downlight is one of many models to receive a radical re-engineering in a bid to adapt conventional lighting units for an LED age.
Effectively the product design team at Integral have stripped away many of the familiar features of conventional Fire Rated downlights to match the advantages that LED provides. The result is a fundamentally new product that dispenses with the need of a ‘can’ to preserve fire safety.
Downlights are subject to safety regulations due to the nature of their installation. Essentially, a hole is cut out of the ceiling which compromises the fire integrity of the structure. It is important to remember it is not the downlight itself that is subject to fire rating but the length of time the complete barrier can withstand a building fire. The purpose of the regulations is to ensure that the materials and the fittings will protect the occupants, allowing enough time for those caught inside to use an escape route.
In the past, the fire resistance of the floor/ceiling is retained by specialist fittings that use an array of designs developed at a time when halogen was king. This original generation of fire rated downlight uses a metal can structure, often featuring the addition of expanding intumescent fire-proof material to seal the gaps in times of fire.
Glass and steel barrier
The Integral Evofire has adopted a novel approach of creating a glass and steel barrier as a solution. Essentially, the fire protection is deployed below the lamp at the ceiling surface. The resulting lightweight downlight is rated BS 476 and matches current fire regulations. However, the new product goes beyond to provide an effective barrier to smoke and flames entering the ceiling void – extending the escape time in the instance of an emergency.
“The Evofire uses fewer materials in its construction thanks to its novel design and the cost of the unit is substantially lower than its ‘canned’ competitors. In future, the peace of mind of installing fire-rated downlights needn’t come at a high price.” comments Francesco Rivieccio, Senior LED Product Manager at Integral LED.
The Evofire’s open design allows the separately fitted LED spotlights to breathe freely. Under test conditions, the interchangeable GU10 and MR16 LED lamps run up to 10degC cooler than a typical model using a can. This critical lower temperature can provide a major boost to LED longevity, potentially doubling the operational lifetime of the LED unit. A built-in insulation guard variant of the Evofire also ensures ‘cool’ operation even when insulation material is laid above the downlight fitting. Hence, heat efficiency of the building can be maintained without compromising lamp-life.