Do You Need Fire Rated Downlights in a Kitchen?

Downlights are a type of light fixture that is recessed into the ceiling. They are popular because they provide lots of light and are a great way to add visual interest to a room. Although downlights are often used in kitchens, there is some debate about whether or not they need to be fire-rated. In this blog post, we will explore both sides of the argument and help you decide that do you need fire rated downlights in a kitchen.

Downlights and the law:

Before we can determine if downlights in your kitchen need to be fire-rated, it’s important to understand the technicalities of recessed lighting installation. This is not only important for ensuring that you are meeting building codes but also for safety reasons.

The NEC (national electrical code) sets out guidelines that must be followed when installing wiring and equipment in the United States. The code dictates that any lighting installed in a kitchen, which would be exposed to grease or other combustible materials, must be listed for such an application.

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What is a fire-rated downlight?

Luckily for builders and homeowners alike, there are now many options on the market for fire-rated recessed lights. While most downlight options are not fire-rated, there are some that are. You can find fire-rated downlights in many different styles and finishes. They come in a variety of configurations for both new construction and remodel projects.

Fire Rated Downlights: What you need to know!

A simple way to tell if your downlights are fire-rated is to look at the installation instructions. If they have been tested as a complete unit, then there is no need for fire-rated downlights; your current recessed lights are probably already compliant with building codes. However, if the directions only list the parts that make up that light then you’ll need to purchase fire-rated downlights.

If you’re not sure if your downlights are fire-rated, it’s a good idea to consult with a licensed electrician or local building inspector.

The next step: choosing the right recessed lighting! Remember that there is no reason to overspend on light fixtures for your kitchen. Today, there are all kinds of options out there that let you get the right look at the right price. To see some great recessed lighting options for your kitchen, check out our kitchen light page!

The different types of downlights:

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As we just discussed, not all downlights are fire-rated. As such, you’ll need to know the difference between the different types of lights installed in the ceiling:

  • Non-IC Downlights:

    Non-IC downlights don’t meet stringent building codes and must be used with caution when installing in commercial buildings.

  • IC Downlights:

    If you want to meet building code and provide your customers with a fire-rated recessed lighting option, then your best bet is an IC downlight.

  • Non-IC Can Liners:

    Non-IC can liners are non-fire rated and are most often used in residential construction.

  • Self-Sealed Fire Rated Downlights:

    These downlights are fire-rated, but they require additional parts to complete the installation.

How to install a downlight-Step by Step Guide:

  • Turn off power to the switch or outlet that you are planning to replace. This will prevent any injuries while you work inside the ceiling.

  • Cut access hole:

    Use a drywall saw to cut an electrical box-sized hole in the drywall directly above where your old light was located.

  • Remove existing light:

    Carefully pull the existing light away from the ceiling. Be careful to hold it so that you don’t pull any of your wiring loose with it.

  • Install electrical box:

    Place an octagonal electrical box in the location where the old light was located.  Ensure that there is at least 1/2- inch of space between the edge of the box and the drywall.

  • Now it’s time to head to your local home improvement store! Bring along your measurements as well as an image that you want to copy/replicate. We also recommend bringing along a housing style preference and preferred light bulb type.
  • Install downlight:

    Once you’ve bought your downlight it is time to install!  In most cases, the installation process involves simply screwing the lamp into the electrical box that you installed in step 3. Be sure to add any insulation that was provided with your new lights.

  • Light it up:

    You’re almost there!  All that is left to do is turn on the power and test your new downlight!

Do you need fire-rated downlights in a kitchen? 

The simple answer is yes – fire-rated downlights are needed in a kitchen. The reason for this is that kitchens can be quite dangerous places due to the presence of cooking appliances and other potential sources of fire.

Fire-rated downlights are designed to provide an extra level of protection against fire in the event that a fire does break out. They will help to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading, which could potentially save lives and protect property. So if you’re renovating your kitchen, make sure you install some good quality fire-rated downlights.

Can I use non-fire-rated downlights in my kitchen?

Kitchens are one of the most common places in a home for fires to start. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “fires started in the kitchen account for almost half (47%) of all structure fires and cause more than $1.3 billion in property damage each year.” Downlights are often a source of kitchen fires, as they can be easily damaged by grease and fat.

That said, some non-fire-rated downlights may be permitted in certain types of kitchens, such as those that are equipped with an automatic fire suppression system. It is important to check with your local fire marshal or building inspector to find out if your specific downlights are allowed in your kitchen. If they are not allowed, you will need to install fire-rated downlights.

Do I need to have electrical wiring put in for my fire-rated downlights? 

Some jurisdictions will require that you hire an electrician to add extra wiring in order to support these safety features. If this is not required by your local building codes, you may be able to install them using existing wiring.

What are the benefits of using fire-rated downlights in a kitchen?

This is where fire-rated downlights really come into their own. Downlights, like other light fixtures and appliances, can pose a risk of grease fires in the kitchen. Not only will they help to contain fires that do take hold, but they also create a safer environment for homeowners by helping to prevent such fires from occurring in the first place.

What precautions should be taken when using fire-rated downlights in a kitchen?

In order to get the maximum benefit from your fire-rated downlight, you should ensure that it is installed correctly. In other words, you need to do all that you can to prevent it from becoming a potential source of the fire. Make sure that nothing comes into contact with the heat that is emitted from your downlight. In other words, you need to avoid placing items such as potholders or dishtowels on or near a fire-rated downlight.


Downlights are a great way to add light and depth to any room. There are many different types of downlights on the market today, so it’s important to understand the differences before you make a purchase. We hope this article has helped you do just that!

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