Closet light fire clearance (C) Daniel Friedman Guide to Closet Light Spacing, Fire Clearances, Fire Safety

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Closet lighting design specifications & clearances: this article discusses proper lighting for closets and closet light spacing for fire safety. This article series details guidelines for selecting and installing interior lighting to meet the requirements for different building areas.

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Closet Lighting Selection & Installation - Fire Safety Clearances

This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.

Also see LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE our home page for information about all lighting topics relating to building interior

Due to risk of fire, the International Building Code and the National Electrical Code require that all fixtures installed in closets must be either surface-mounted or recessed and must completely enclose the bulb. Only incandescent or fluorescent lamps are allowed.

In addition, the fixture must be installed either in the wall above the door or on the ceiling and have the following clearances:

  • For surface-mounted incandescent fixtures: 12 inches to the nearest point of clothing or storage space.
  • For surface-mounted fluorescent fixtures: 6 inches to the nearest point of clothing or storage space.
  • For recessed fluorescent or incandescent fixtures (with a completely enclosed lamp): 6 inches to the nearest point of clothing or storage space.

Watch out: Check with local code officials in your own jurisdiction for specific lighting and electrical safety requirements.

Lighting Options Update - 2012 IRC allows LEDs

4/12/14 Richard Ellis said:

Lighting options needs to be updated to reflect 2012 edition of IRC. Section E4003.12 Luminaries in Clothes Closets now allows:

  • surface mounted or recessed incandescent or LED luminaires with completely enclosed light sources
  • surface mounted or recessed fluorescent luminaires
  • surface mounted fluorescent or LED luminaires identified as suitable for installation within a closet storage area

Resources: Manufacturers, Industry Associations, & Sources of Indoor Wall Materials, Flooring, Carpeting, Lighting, Sound Control Materials

Industry & Trade Associations for Lighting and Other Interior Components in buildings

American Lighting Association

-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.

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