Friday, October 1, 2010

1970s home

Questioner: Andy
Category: Electrical Wiring in the Home
Private: No

Subject: new ceiling light fixtures, old wire
Question: I intend to replace an old flush-mount hall light soon, house was built in '74, prior to the 90C wire era. Mindful of the 90C restriction stickers on incandescent fixtures, I checked some fluorescent fixtures at Lowe's and Menard's recently (both ring type and GU-24), thinking there might be an exemption due to their lower wattage and heat output. All fixtures were UL-listed, but some brands had the 90C warning and others did not (no accident - the written instructions were different too).

My replacement interest is cosmetic - the current light has no functional problems I'm aware of.

1. Can a fluorescent-only fixture, in normal usage correctly wired, ever get hot enough to damage 60 C wire insulation?

2. If the answer (1) is no, are manufacturers and/or the NEC likely to relax the 90C requirement for fluorescent fixtures in the future? If the answer to (1) is yes, why have some manufacturers (apparently) dropped the 90 C restriction?

3. Is there an exemption that applies to repair / replacement in existing homes? It's hard to believe a brand new incandescent fixture would be more of a fire hazard than one that's 25+ been years, even if the latter is the one that "meets code".

No big hurry, answer at your convenience. Thanks

Answer: Hi Andy,

Stop reading the code! Just kidding but seriously this is really not a problem. You are reading the new wiring standard and you have a home that is build with an older standard. You are grandfathered in. The new light don't put out any more heat now then they did in the 1970. In fact with better lighting technology most produce less heat and more light. (I would stay away from halogen bulbs)

Bill Lutz
Generation 3 Electric, Inc.

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