Can you cover LED Down lights with insulation? My Findings…

can you cover led bulbs with insulation

Covering LED lights with insulation may seem like no big deal because they let off a lot less heat per fixture, but you need to understand the product that you are working with. Each product has a different level of concern when it comes in close proximity to a combustible element.

Although you can’t cover LED lights directly with insulation, because of fire concerns. You can take an IC (Insulation Contact) rated fixture and cover it with insulation because they are safety rated to touch the insulation.

We will go through covering LED lights with insulation, what IC (Insulation Contact) is, how IC works, and some of the energy savings involved in going with LED lights.

Can you cover LED lights with insulation?

led recessed light with loft cap and insulation
led recessed light with loft cap and insulation

When working with any lighting system, you have to understand the equipment that you are using. The answer is no; you cannot cover LED lights with insulation unless they are IC (Insulation Contact) rated, which allows the light to be inside 3″ of insulation.

The IC rating is critical to note because although LEDs are more energy-efficient, they can still generate a lot of heat on the back portion of the lamp. So, if you are using an IC-rated LED fixture, then you can lay insulation over that fixture because the fixture is insulated to protect against heat.

If your LED fixture is not rated for insulation contact, then it is best to leave enough clearance for the heat to escape. Keeping it away from combustible elements will be crucial for the operation and safety of the fixture.

How IC (Insulation Contact) Works

example of a recessed light loft cap for led bulbs
example of a recessed light loft cap for led bulbs

When a fixture is IC-rated, they are usually 100 watts or less, which generates less heat on the fixture, and that can protect from possible combustion. IC-rated fixtures use a double can or a can within a can on the fixture to help disperse heat.

The can within a can, is where the inner can generates the most heat, and then the outer can is placed over to keep the second can cool enough to allow the fixture to touch the insulation. This gives the fixture the cushion that it needs to be installed yet not give off enough heat to be dangerous.

With the ability to cover IC-rated fixtures with insulation makes these fixtures more energy efficient. With these fixtures also being safety rated, they are worth the extra cost because it can help make your home more energy-efficient.

Every IC-rated fixture will be clearly marked, so there is no confusion when you are ready to install. These markings are important when deciding how to install the product.

LED Vs. Traditional Lights

led bulbs vs incandescent bulbs
led bulbs vs incandescent & halogen bulbs

Traditional fixtures not only give a lot of heat and use a lot of energy; they also do not allow you to insulate around them. This extra insulation can make your home more energy efficient with less heat loss through the mounting area of the fixture.

An LED can also last up to 20 times longer than a traditional light fixture as the life span of an LED can have a life span of 25,000 hours. A conventional light bulb usually only lasts around 1,200 hours, which is a drastic difference in the amount of time you will get from each light.

LED lights can be up to 85% more efficient than traditional light and up to 35% more efficient than a fluorescent light bulb. So, when you are planning to upgrade to a more energy-efficient light, LED’s are a great product to have installed.

Traditional fixtures are cheaper, but they can cost a lot more money in the long run. When faced with the item in front of you, it is essential to think about the long-term effect of the product.

What Are The Actual Savings?

bulb life led vs traditional bulb
bulb life led vs traditional bulb

LED savings outweigh the cost of traditional light bulbs because of how efficient they run. Although it is a more significant expense to invest in those bulbs, it is a lot cheaper to run them, making them more cost-effective.

Cost In Bulbs

On average, an LED bulb can cost around $5.00 each; however, you can spend some big money if you are purchasing a WIFI enabled bulb that will allow you to control it from your phone. A traditional bulb costs about $1.00 each.

So although a LED bulb costs roughly five times as much as a traditional bulb, but it will take about 40 bulbs to equal the life span of an LED bulb. This means that you would save almost $15.00 per bulb that you replace with an LED over the lifespan of the bulb.

Now image in you change out 15 bulbs in your home; this would save you a lot of money just on the cost of replacement. LED bulbs do have a higher upfront cost but can save money on the back end.

Energy Savings

You are charged per kWh on your energy, and although each area has a different cost for electricity, we can go over a basic example to show you the savings. If an average LED bulb puts off 10 watts, and you are charged $0.10 per KHW, then your 25,000-hour LED bulb would cost around $25.00 for the life of that bulb.

A traditional bulb puts out about 60 watts, which means over the 1,200-hour life span, you will pay $7.20 over the life of the conventional bulb. However, to run a traditional bulb for the same length of time as a LED bulb, it will cost you roughly $150.00 over that life span.

Having an LED light can save you a significant amount of money over their life span. The LED bulb also costs a fraction of what a traditional bulb and can save you lots of money, depending on how many bulbs you have in your home.

Why You Should Insulate Your Light Fixtures

The insulation of your light fixtures has some benefits that can help your lights become more energy efficient. Insulating the fixtures can also save you from costly repairs down the road.


When you use an IC-rated fixture and insulate behind it, you are creating a 99% airtight seal that can have the benefits of not letting air through. When warm air hits the roof, it can cause condensation on a cold day, and that can cause damage to your fixture.

More Efficient

Because you no longer have a thermal gap of air that is created by having to keep your fixture away from insulation, there is nowhere for the air to escape. No gap means that you have a better-insulated home, and that can make it much more energy-efficient.

When investing in a home project, it is essential to keep in mind everything that will make your investment worth it. Being able to save money down the road on repairs and see the instant savings on your power bill can help justify the extra cost.

Things To Keep In Mind

Always understand the products that you are using, and just because a light is LED does not mean that they can have insulation laid over them. Make sure that you are using the properly rated fixture to handle the heat dispersion when you install the lamp.

Insulation is a combustible substance, and too much heat on them can cause a fire in the ceiling. Most blow in insulations will not only help you close gaps in the insulation, but they are also treated with fire retardants that can give you added peace of mind.

If you are taking on a project of this size, it is always best to consider what will save you money in the long run. LED fixtures that are IC rated gives you this option by making your home more efficient and save on your energy costs.

Safety is the most critical part of any project, and not adhering to safety guidelines and procedures can cost you a lot more later. Doing it right the first time will enable you just to enjoy the result, then having to continue making repairs.

Most safety regulations vary from state to state, and you should be aware of any regulations when you are installing lighting. If you are only retrofitting lighting, then the setup of the lights should be ok to work with, but you always want to make sure by checking your local regulations.

Final Thoughts

There are significant benefits to insulating your lighting fixtures and using LED lights. It isn’t so much a question of, can you cover LED lights with insulation, but how to do it right. Always making sure your materials are the right ones for the job. This is vital to make sure the installation is safe.

Always make sure if you are planning to cover LED lights or any lights with insulation that you get an IC-rated fixture. There is a lot of heat that is put off by any light fixture, although LED lights do let off less, they can still be a potential fire hazard.

When in doubt, always consult a licensed electrician to ensure that everything is done right.

Steve Foster

Suburbanite, tech geek, handy man, automation enthusiast who started blogging about the stuff I do around my home and found he had a knack for it.

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