Lighting in Clothing Closets,
Clothes Closet Lighting
People don’t often think about the fire risks posed by the light in their clothes closet, but it’s 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 Luminaries and Clearance from Clothing"
The IRC defines a "luminary" as:
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 luminaries permitted by the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC) include:
surface-mounted or recessed incandescent luminaries with completely enclosed lamps, surface-mounted or recessed fluorescent luminaries; and
surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaries identified as suitable for installation within the storage area.
Luminaries not permitted by the 2009 IRC include:
Incandescent luminaries 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 luminaries installed in clothes closets and the nearest point of a storage area shall be as follows:
Surface-mounted incandescent or LED luminaries 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 between the fixture and the nearest point of a storage space.
Surface-mounted fluorescent luminaries shall be installed on the wall above the door or on the ceiling, provided that there is a minimum clearance of 6 inches.
Recessed incandescent luminaries or LED luminaries 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.
Recessed fluorescent luminaries shall be installed in the wall or on the ceiling, provided that there is a minimum clearance of 6 inches between the fixture and the nearest point of storage space.
Surface-mounted fluorescent or LED luminaries 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.
Homeowners should replace lighting in their clothes closets if the light has the potential to ignite flammable materials in the closet.