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can lights in soffit #6889 01/13/02 01:53 AM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 141
amp-man Offline OP
Hi y'all,

Need your opinions on this--

Adding two mini (4") can lights in a kitchen remodel. Soffit into which they are going encloses a space 8' by 1' by 6".

The cans are Halos, non-IC. Lamps are 40W mini reflectors (tungsten). Can instructions call for 3" clearance from combustable surfaces. Plenty of clearance except on top, where there is about 1" clearance above the housing.

The top of the soffit is a conventional drywall ceiling (the ceiling is finished, so the soffit must be part of a remodel).


1. Am I O.K. with less than 3" clearance above? I think so, because the surface above, being finished drywall, is considered non-combustable.

2. The soffit is essentially unventilated. It encloses a pretty good volume (~4 cubic feet). Should I be concerned about heat buildup, and if so, would providing a few 1/2" holes above each housing be a good idea?

Thanks in advance--


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Re: can lights in soffit #6890 01/13/02 09:13 AM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Electricmanscott Offline
I believe you would not have a problem with the lamps you are using. The problem may come if someone at some point throws some higher wattage or halogen lamps in. Some ventilation may not be a bad idea. Can you possibly cut out the drywall above the light?

Re: can lights in soffit #6891 01/13/02 04:39 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 444
Sandro Offline
I believe the built-in thermal overload would kick in if a higher than rated wattage bulb was put in.

Re: can lights in soffit #6892 01/13/02 06:00 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Electricmanscott Offline
I do agree that the overload should protect from any fire issues. What I would be concerned with if somebody were to install a higher wattage lamp, and then the light starts to go off and on....."What did that electrician do?" YOU look like the dummy!

Re: can lights in soffit #6893 01/13/02 06:24 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 3,960
Bill Addiss Offline

You shouldn't have any problems with clearance above, as standard cans are engineered with only 1/2" space left above them to a wood floor above. I mean that the standard height can is 7 1/2" high which only gives you 1/2 inch (at best) above in a 2 x 8 ceiling. Same with shallow cans (5 1/2" in a 2 x 6 ceiling)

Some ventilation holes sound like a good idea.


Re: can lights in soffit #6894 01/13/02 09:26 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 141
amp-man Offline OP
Scott, Bill, Sandro--

Thanks for replying.

Think I'll put 'em in and leave it at that. Bill's point about the intended clearance, given the height of the can and the joist height, is convincing.

If I ever get a report of blinking lights, then I'll put some ventilation holes in...and I'll come back tell you about it, and Scott can say, "I told you so..."!

Re: can lights in soffit #6895 01/13/02 09:31 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
Electricmanscott Offline
I will be waiting! [Linked Image]


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