Recessed lights come in two variations, insulated ceiling rated (IC rated) or non-insulated ceiling rated. As you have probably already guessed, the IC rated recessed lights can have insulation packed around them. They are designed to dissipate heat in such a way that it will not cause an issue with the recess light itself, or more seriously the insulation around it. Non-IC rated recess lights on the other hand CANNOT have insulation touching them. According to our current codes, there must be a gap of 3 inches between non-IC rated recess lights and insulation.
How Can I Tell If My Recessed Lights Are IC-Rated or Not?
First thing to know when talking about a “recessed light” is there are a number of parts that make it up. First is the can, which goes into the ceiling. This is the part that will either be IC or Non-IC rated. Second is the trim which slides into the can. Today, most trims have the LED light bulb built into them. Older trims may have a light bulb separate from the trim itself. There are also can-less recessed lights that have gained a huge amount of popularity over the last few years. These lights have no can as their name describes, only a trim and a junction box / driver that get installed into the ceiling.
Can-less recessed lights: All the current ones I have seen on the market are IC rated. At this time, I’m not aware of any that are non-IC rated. So, if you have these units, you are probably OK! To further confirm, check for a label on the trim and/or driver stating IC-Rated.
Older style recessed lights with can and trim separate: Current versions of these recessed light cans will be white if they are non-IC rated and silver/metallic if they are IC rated. That is a quick way to distinguish between the two. To further confirm, all recessed light cans will have a label on them. This label will say IC rated or non-IC rated. Look for this label, usually inside the recessed light can, and sometimes on the outside of it as well.
Take a look at the following photo showing the label within the recessed light can stating it’s non-IC rated.
Steps To IC-Rated Inspection
IC rated recess light inspections are straightforward and pretty quick. All recessed lights that are in an area of your home that will be insulated will be checked for an IC-rated label. If you are insulating your attic and it is accessible, checking the lights from above is efficient. If there is no space above to check, pulling out the trims and checking the labels within the can from below is the way to do it.
ALL recess lights in the area where insulation will be installed must be checked. The process does not usually take long, 1 hour at most for the majority of homes.
Once all the recessed lights are checked, a Mass-Save form is filled out summarizing our findings. This form must be signed by a licensed electrician and given to the Mass-Save company performing the insulation work.
OK, My Recessed Lights Are Non-IC Rated, What do I do Next?
If your recessed lights are Non-IC rated you have two options. One is to replace the recessed cans with IC rated cans. The second option is to have an insulated box installed around each recess light keeping insulation away from it the required 3 inches. The latter option is much cheaper and in most cases the way to go. Replacing all the recessed light cans with IC rated is not only time consuming but may also require some minor patching around all the lights. Most insulation companies will move forward with these jobs installing the insulated box around the recessed lights and not even give the can replacement a second thought.
How Much Do IC-Rated Inspections Cost?
The inspection cost is $250.00 per house or apartment unit. This cost is set by the Mass-Save program. If you are moving forward with insulation work, Mass-Save may offer a credit towards the insulation work itself, effectively paying for the inspection.
If you need to have your recessed lights checked for IC rated, contact us today!