Can I Have Recessed Lighting With Drop Ceilings?

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    IC vs Non IC

    • Some recessed lights are rated for contact with insulation; others are not. Look for the IC or Non IC rating on the box and on the light. IC stands for insulation contact. An IC-rated fixture will turn off if it overheats, and that includes using a bulb with too high a wattage for the fixture. Your recessed light must be IC rated if you intend to insulate above the dropped ceiling. Use of IC-rated fixtures is not limited to installations in which insulation may contact the fixture. Some community building codes require all light fixtures have the IC rating whether in contact with insulation or not.

    Wiring Considerations

    • The external cases of IC rated recessed lamps can reach 90 degrees Celsius and Non-IC rated can get even hotter. Wiring that might possibly come in contact with or close to the metal case of the fixture must be rated at 90 degrees Celsius. Electrical codes in most communities require wiring the lights to a central junction box within 6 feet of the fixture using metal clad sheathed cable. Multiple junction boxes can be wired together and then connected to the light switch. The metal clad cables should not be stapled or nailed to the house framing so the ceiling panels can be removed.

    Fixture Installation

    • Recessed light fixtures installed in drop ceilings attach to the ceiling grid pieces. Holes cut into the ceiling panels allow the fixture to be adjusted so the fixture can is flush with the exposed face of the ceiling panel. Loosening the adjustment screws and pulling the can down is the usual method. The screws are tightened again after adjustment. Every light should have a trim piece installed. The most common types are also the least expensive. They consist of a round baffle that covers the gap between the ceiling panel and the recessed light fixture.

    Drop Ceiling Installations

    • Limited space exists above the ceiling panels, and some recessed fixtures just won't fit exactly where you want them. Ensure you have enough room between the ceiling panels and the floor above for the fixtures you purchase. Before using recessed lights, examine the installation area. Places where furnace ducts, pipes and wiring conduit are present may prevent you from installing a recessed light in that location, and the light may need to be moved. Recessed lights add weight to the ceiling grid. Grid pieces surrounding each light may need extra support wires.

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