JD Lighting Official Blog

IC-Rating: What are IC-Rated LED Downlights?

IC Rating is one of those downlight standards that is poorly understood by the general public. This guide aims to demystify this technical term and hopefully in the process, helps you to make better buying decisions when it comes to recessed downlights.

Understanding IC Rating

“IC” stands for Insulation Contact. IC rating is essentially a measure used to determine if a recessed downlight is suitable to come into contact with your building insulation or not. Most Australian homes these days are protected by a layer of insulation within the walls and ceilings. The insulation acts as a barrier to heat flow and is crucial for keeping your home cool in summer and warm in winter.

When the time comes for your electrician to install the downlights in your ceiling, that is when the issue of installing downlights under insulation arises and IC rating comes into play. The reason this is important is because lights can generate a lot of heat during use and can potentially pose a fire hazard in a ceiling filled with insulation. IC rating is created specifically to solve the issue of installing downlights under a layer of insulation.

IC-Rated Downlights

Essentially, an IC-rated downlight can be abutted and directly covered with insulation. This makes the installation process far easier as the insulation can be laid unbroken over the whole ceiling area.

The main benefits of IC-rated downlights include:

  • Much simpler installation process and less time-consuming
  • Potentially save on electrician’s costs due to time saved
  • Less chance of fire hazard
  • Avoid thermal loss as insulation can be laid unbroken over the ceiling

Downlights without IC rating (including CA80 & CA135 ratings)

On the other hand, a downlight without IC rating cannot come into direct contact, or be covered by insulation. If a downlight without IC rating is to be used, insulation must be cleared around and above the downlight to allow heat to dissipate. If this heat is trapped by the covering of insulation, it would pose a fire hazard, along with a significant reduction in the usage life of the downlight, causing it to fail prematurely and the potential discolouration of the ceiling.

If the space where the downlight is to be placed does not contain any insulation, then a downlight without IC rating is perfectly fine. The heat generated from the downlight will harmlessly dissipate within the air cavity.

The main downfalls of downlights without IC rating are:

  • Harder installation process and more time-consuming as insulation will need to be removed around and above the non IC-rated downlight
  • Potentially higher electrician’s costs due to the harder installation process
  • Higher chance of safety hazard
  • May cause thermal loss as insulation is compromised for the installation of the non IC-rated downlight