Chris' Corner: Closet Lighting

Closet Lighting

Fred Hernden, an Active Rain Blogger and Greater Tampa Bay Area Home Inspector shared this great information about Lighting in Closets.  If you have lighting in your closets or intend to add lighting to your closets, this information might prove valuable to you.

If you are looking to buy and/or sell a home in Alliston, Beeton, Tottenham or rural New Tecumseth, Adjala-Tosorontio or Essa, call me, Chris Smith @ 1.866,936.3500 for information and assistance in helping you make your Real Estate Dreams come true.

If you would like to contact Fred or leave him a message, please click on his link below:

This post is an article I did some time ago, and with the suggestion that I do it again (Thanks Barbara-Jo...) It is a follow up on her post of things to do before listing your home. We all know how you can accumulate things over the years and before you even know it, your closets and unused bedrooms are cluttered up with "stuff" But before you stuff those closets with "stuff" consider the dangers of piling up too high and too close to your closet lighting! It is one of the few places in the house where a source of high heat can get too close to flammable materials. Lighting must be installed safely with adequate separation from clothes, boxes and other flammables stored in the closet.  Additionally, the quality of the light, as well as bulb efficiency, will influence your lighting choices. 
The 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) on "Permitted Luminaires and Clearance from Clothing"
The IRC defines a "luminaire" as follows: 
a complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps, together with the parts designed to distribute the light, to position and protect the lamps and ballast (where applicable), and to connect the lamps to the power supply.
Types of luminaires permitted by the 2009 IRC include:
  • surface-mounted or recessed incandescent luminaires with completely enclosed lamps, surface-mounted or recessed fluorescent luminaires; and
  • surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires identified as suitable for installation within the storage area.

Luminaires not permitted by the 2009 IRC:

  • Incandescent luminaires with open or partially enclosed lamps and pendant luminaires or lamp-holders should be prohibited.

Clearances permitted by the 2009 IRC:

The minimum distance between luminaires installed in clothes closets and the nearest point of a storage area shall be as follows:

1. Surface-mounted incandescent or LED luminaires with a completely enclosed light source shall be installed on a wall above the door or on the ceiling, provided that there is a minimum clearance of 12 inches (305 mm) between the fixture and the nearest point of a storage space.

2. Surface-mounted fluorescent luminaires shall be installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling, provided that there is a minimum clearance of 6 inches (152 mm).

3. Recessed incandescent luminaires or LED luminaires with a completely enclosed light source shall be installed in the wall or the ceiling, provided that there is a minimum clearance of 6 inches (152 mm).A hazardous lighting situation!

4. Recessed fluorescent luminaires shall be installed in the wall or on the ceiling, provided that there is a minimum clearance of 6 inches (152 mm) between the fixture and the nearest point of storage space.

5. Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires shall be permitted to be installed within the storage space where identified within this use.
Also, metal pull chains may be dangerous; if the base cracks, the chain can become electrified.
Color Rendering Index (CRI)
CRI is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reproduce the colors of various objects faithfully, in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. The closer the CRI of a lamp is to 100, the more "true" it renders colors in the environment. Poor CRI is the reason that a shirt and pants that seemed to match at home now clash in the restroom at work. For clothes closets lighting, the CRI should be as high as possible. Incandescent lights are inefficient but they have a CRI of 100, making them the most aesthetic lighting choice. Compact fluorescents lights (CFLs) are far more efficient and have a longer life than incandescent bulbs, but they have a CRI in the low 60s, making them a poor choice for clothes closet applications. Low-voltage halogen and LED lights are relatively efficient, long-lasting, and have a high CRI, although not as high as incandescent bulbs. 
In summary, homeowners should replace lighting in their clothes closets if the light has the potential to ignite flammable materials in the closet. Here at Superior Home Inspections, we will inform our clients if we detect a lighting fixture that is not to these standards!


Chris Smith CSSBB
          Sales Representative

Interested in Buying or Selling Real Estate?

  ph: 1.866.936.3500

Chay Realty Inc.,

Comment balloon 0 commentsChris Smith • May 11 2012 11:21AM