IC and Non-IC rated recessed light fixtures are designed to serve the same purpose - lighting up spaces - but there are distinct differences between the two, mainly centered around their interaction with insulation.
|Feature||IC-rated recessed lights||Non-IC-rated recessed lights|
|Suitable for||Insulated surfaces||Non-insulated surfaces|
|Construction||Double can||Single can with holes|
|Wattage limit||75-100 watts||150 watts or more|
|Holes||No holes||Has holes for heat dissipation|
|Thermal protection system||Yes||No|
|Energy efficiency||More energy-efficient||Less energy-efficient|
|Safety||Safer||More fire hazard|
|Bulb compatibility||LED lights||LED lights and higher-wattage bulbs|
1. Insulation Contact: The primary difference is that IC-rated fixtures can be in direct contact with insulation, while Non-IC rated fixtures require a clearance of about 3 inches from any insulation. This impacts where and how they can be installed.
2. Heat Dissipation: IC-rated lights are designed with a thermal protection device that prevents overheating, allowing them to be covered with insulation. On the other hand, Non-IC fixtures dissipate heat through vents and require open air around them to prevent overheating.
3. Bulb Wattage: Non-IC fixtures often support higher wattage bulbs compared to IC fixtures. This is because the heat from the bulbs can escape more easily in Non-IC fixtures, while IC fixtures have to limit the heat to safe levels due to their proximity to insulation.
4. Installation Constraints: IC fixtures offer more flexibility during installation as they can be placed wherever insulation is present. Non-IC fixtures require careful planning to ensure they maintain the necessary distance from insulation.
5. Safety Regulations:
IC fixtures are stringently tested for safety due to their insulation contact, while Non-IC fixtures, due to their requirement for clearance from insulation, have different safety standards.
Part 6. Which Recessed Lighting Is Better? IC Vs. Non-IC Rated
The choice between IC and Non-IC rated recessed lighting is dependent on a variety of factors. Each has its advantages and could be a better choice depending on the specific context.
In colder climates, where heavy insulation is a necessity, IC-rated fixtures may be a more practical choice as they can safely be in direct contact with insulation. In warmer climates, Non-IC fixtures might be used more frequently in areas where insulation is less dense or non-existent.
If thermal protection is a priority, IC-rated lights have a clear advantage. Their built-in thermal protection safeguards against overheating, making them a safer choice for areas with dense insulation.
Safety and Affordability
While IC-rated lights tend to be more expensive due to their additional safety features, they provide peace of mind, particularly when insulation is involved. Non-IC lights, however, are generally more affordable and can be a cost-effective solution for areas without insulation.
Compatibility with Brighter Light Bulb
If you need to use high-wattage bulbs for bright illumination, Non-IC rated fixtures are the way to go. Their design, which ensures they remain clear of insulation, allows them to handle the additional heat from higher-wattage bulbs.
Easy-Installation and Energy Efficiency
IC-rated lights are easier to install in insulated ceilings as they don't require a clearance space. This makes the installation process smoother. Moreover, their proximity to insulation enhances energy efficiency, as less heat is lost to the surrounding environment.
In conclusion, neither IC nor Non-IC rated lights are inherently 'better'. The choice should be based on your specific requirements, the environment, and the conditions of your building's insulation.