IMPORTANT The Ministry of Economic Development – Downlights and their Installation Requirements From 10 May 2012 Mandatory change to the S/NZS 3000 Electrical installations.
10 May 2012 marks an important date for installers of downlights in New Zealand. Amendment A to AS/NZS 3000 Electrical installations ‘the wiring rules’ becomes a regulated mandatory part of that standard on 10 May 2012 through an amendment to the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010. Regulation 118A is interpreted to apply consistently with the rest of the regulations. That is, it applies to installation work that commences on or after 10 May 2011.
The installation of downlight fittings in ‘residential installations’ that commences on or after 10 May 2012 will have to use one of the following types of fitting: CA 80, CA 135, IC, or IC-F.
Downlights and associated fittings, or recessed luminaires to use the technical terminology, generate significant amounts of heat. As a consequence the installation of downlight fittings requires particular care. In order to address the hazards that arise from the increased use of thermal insulation, Standards New Zealand published Amendment A to AS/NZS 60598.2.2 Luminaires Part 2.2 Particular requirements – recessed luminaires in July 2011. This New Zealand-only amendment introduced four new categories of downlight fitting that allow for thermal insulation to either abut the fittings (CA 80 and CA 135), or abut and cover the fittings (IC and IC-F).
For the purposes of these requirements, ‘residential installations’ are considered to be electrical installations in homeowner or rental domestic dwellings, flats and the like. The intention is to address risk in situations where it is likely that during the life of the electrical installation, thermal insulation will be installed in ceilings by homeowners or other persons who are not familiar with the risks of covering downlights.
Manufacturers of downlight fittings are required by AS/NZS 60598.2.2 Amendment A to specify in their instructions the types and/or characteristics of insulation that are safe for use with those fittings. Downlight installers have to choose fittings compatible with the insulation that is or will be present or, alternatively, the insulation must be selected by the homeowner to comply with the manufacturer’s instructions for the fittings.
The ability to repair or do ‘like for like’ replacement of a downlight fitting that was already in place on 10 November 2011, when the regulations were amended, is not affected by this requirement provided it does not result in an unsafe installation.
Downlight fittings for other installations
The requirement to only install the new categories of downlight fittings does not apply to premises, including hostels, motels, hotels or hospitals, where insulation is likely to be put in by professional installers who are aware of the risks associated with laying thermal insulation over or close to light fittings and electrical wiring.
It will continue to be permissible to supply downlight fittings that are not in one of the new categories (ie not CA 80, CA 135, IC, or IC-F) into the New Zealand market for use in installations that are not ‘residential’.
Up until the 28 July 2012 downlight fittings that meet AS/NZS 60598.2.2, with or without Amendment A, are deemed acceptable by Schedule 4 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010. Alternatively, compliance may be established by application of AS/NZS 3820 Essential safety requirements for electrical equipment.
From 28 July 2012, only those downlight fittings that meet AS/NZS 60598.2.2 Amendment A are deemed acceptable by Schedule 4. Note, however, that application of AS/NZS 3820 remains an acceptable alternative. Compliance with AS/NZS 60598.2.2 without Amendment A will no longer be sufficient to demonstrate safety.
Supplier declarations of compliance for downlight fittings imported or manufactured in New Zealand after 28 July 2012 that do not meet AS/NZS 60598.2.2 Amendment A will have to be made with reference to AS/NZS 3820 and the relevant compliance mechanism identified in that standard.
Meaning of closed recessed luminaire
To comply with clause 2.3.1 of AS/NZS 60598.2.2 Amendment A, a ‘closed recessed luminaire’ does not necessarily have to be constructed so as to appear to be fully enclosed. The provision in clause 2.3.1 relates to the free air path that communicates directly between the occupied space that is illuminated and the space into which the downlight fitting is recessed.