How do I Comply with the Building Regulations?

Building Regulations Explained

Building Regulations are designed as a safety measure and provide builders and installers with guidance and rules. Make sure your lighting installation complies with all the relevant Building Regulations or you might have to redo it.

The Government and local authorities make the rules and it is important that they are followed, to find our more information go to the Government Planning Portal by CLICKING HERE. Or for our own shorter explanations please see below:

Part B Fire Safety

In our industry, this relates to fire rated downlights but Part B covers a wide scope of fire safety aspects, in fact the official Building Regulations are quite vague about the matter. We've written a dedicated article fire rated downlights here. Our advice is, if in doubt, fit fire rated. In most cases, and especially with integrated downlights, they're fire rated as standard, so you don't really have an option for non fire rated. If you're installation is for a commercial building with a concrete structure and false ceiling; then downlights don't need to be fire rated. Otherwise you'd need a fire rated 600x600 ceiling panel which don't exist.

Part C Resistance to Contaminants and Moisture

The majority of fire rated downlights are also Part C compliant, they are fitted with a moisture seal that prevents condensation from getting through the downlight hole. Many adjustable downlights are not Part C compliant and will allow drafts and condensation to get through. 

Part E Resistance to Sound

Downlights that are Part E compliant are known as acoustic rated. This type of regulation would be essential in downlight installations in buildings such as flats. An acoustic rated downlight would prevent sound from traveling through the hole created by a recessed downlight. This should be a standard feature for downlights fitted downstairs as sound could travel upstairs, through the downlighter holes and could wake up an angry person, or a sleeping child.

Part L Energy Efficiency

This is possibly the most confusing one out of the bunch. Part L is split into two main sections; Part L1 which covers residential buildings and Part L2 which covers commercial buildings such as factories, offices and schools etc. Part L compliance is given to the building not the lamp or luminaire. To achieve Part L compliance you need to meet the following criteria:

Part L1 - Residential

  • 75% of all the lights in a home or domestic building must be low energy.
  • A low energy light is only classed as low energy if it produces over 400 lamp lumens and has an efficacy of over 45 lumens per watt. Some LED downlights only fully comply with Part L in cool white but not in warm white.
  • If a low energy lamp is fitted that is below 5 watts it is ignored from the scope and not counted.
  • However, in reality because building inspectors are not trained lighting engineers how do they know what 400 lamp lumens looks like? They don't, and fitting an LED would more than likely get you a big green tick. Also is a Chinese import that says 450 lumens on the box the same as a Philips 8W GU10 with photometric data to back it up the same? No it's not but currently there are no laws in place to regulate the industry until later in 2013.

Part L2 - Commercial

  • To comply with Part L2 your building needs to have an overall average efficacy of at least 55 lumens per watt.
  • Like in Part L1, the light (lamp or luminaire) needs to produce over 400 lamp lumens to be considered and be above 5 watts.
  • Part L2 considers other factors such as LOR (light output ratio). Many light fittings such as 2x26W CFL downlights have an LOR of 65% meaning that 35% of the light is lost in the reflector. This reduces the overall efficacy of the luminaire. Most LED luminaires have a very high LOR of 90-100%.
  • Having a few inefficient lamps such as 50 watt halogens scattered about can seriously reduce the overall efficacy of the building.
  • Certain types of lighting are not including in Part L2 such as specialist process lighting, emergency lighting and stage lighting.
  • Using occupancy detectors and daylight harvesting sensors allows you to use a correction factor when making the final calculation.
  • Energy meters should be installed to allow the consumer to see how much energy is being consumed on individual areas or equipment.

I hope this information has been helpful, please feel free to contact us for further information. We also supply a selection of commercial LED lighting products including LED panels, high bays and low bays.