Light Fixture Inside HVAC Unit
by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Sep 25, 2020 12:00:00 AM
Q: So, I have an odd question for you regarding lighting within an air handling unit that is not sprinkled within a building that is sprinkled. Recently our HVAC department upgraded an air handler and in doing so replaced the old sealed glass blub lighting within the unit with 4-foot LED lights that are weatherproof but have a plastic outer cover. Is this allowed under the code? My gut is telling me no, because why else would the old lighting have been sealed and have a glass cover.
A: You have good reason to be concerned. According to section 220.127.116.11.2 of NFPA 90A-2012, the standard referenced by the 2012 Life Safety Code for HVAC air handlers, light diffusers, other than those made of metal or glass, used in air-handling light fixtures shall be listed and marked “Fixture Light Diffusers for Air-Handling Fixtures.”
Also, section 18.104.22.168.6.5 allows recessed lighting fixtures including cable ties and other discrete products in the ceiling cavity of a plenum where they are listed as having a maximum peak optical density of 0.5 or less, an average optical density of 0.15 or less, and a peak heat release rate of 100 kW or less when tested in accordance with ANSI/UL 2043, Standard for Safety Fire Test for Heat and Visible Smoke Release for Discrete Products and Their Accessories Installed in Air-Handling Spaces.
So, unless that LED light fixture meets ANSI/UL 2034, or is listed and marked “Fixture Light Diffusers for Air-Handling Fixtures” it would not be permitted inside the air handler. Good catch on your part.