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Old 05-15-2008, 09:48 PM   #1
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Recessed lights in the same soffit as HVAC and PEX


I have a couple of soffits I'm building in my basement to house my HVAC trunk line as well as plumbing (PEX and PVC). There's going to be some extra room in there and I'd like to put some recessed lights in.

Is this a good or bad idea? I'm concerned about the heat. Is there a certain distance from these that the lights would have to be? If it is a concern what if I got IC housings and put insulation between the lights and the HVAC/plumbing?

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Old 05-15-2008, 10:05 PM   #2
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Recessed lights in the same soffit as HVAC and PEX


Good questions.

The PEX definately can't be within 6" horizontal and 12" vertical of a can light. Even though they have thermal cutoffs, the PEX can't take years of prolonged heat without getting brittle. Keep it at least that far away and you're good. This is mandated by the PEX manufacturers.

The can lights can be in the same soffit as the HVAC trunk, but cannot be contained within the trunk. You'd have to get "plenum rated" can lights, which you don't see in residential very often. Additionally, the romex running through the HVAC duct would often be an issue.

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Old 05-15-2008, 10:53 PM   #3
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Recessed lights in the same soffit as HVAC and PEX


Thank you for your reply. That's very good information. I had no idea that there were can lights that could be installed within the ductwork itself! I know I don't have any wiring within the duct, just in the soffit, so I assume that would be ok.

I think I'm out of luck with the PEX, though, because I don't have 12" vertical clearance. Here's a cross-section of the soffits I framed in and where the HVAC, PEX, and light would be.

While it will be a couple of inches away horizontally it would only have about 6" vertically. Even with insulation this is a bad idea then?

Thanks again.
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Old 05-15-2008, 10:57 PM   #4
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Recessed lights in the same soffit as HVAC and PEX


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
The PEX definately can't be within 6" horizontal and 12" vertical of a can light. Even though they have thermal cutoffs, the PEX can't take years of prolonged heat without getting brittle. Keep it at least that far away and you're good. This is mandated by the PEX manufacturers.
I didn't know that. Thanks for that information.
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:00 AM   #5
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Recessed lights in the same soffit as HVAC and PEX


No problemo.

If you can't get the clearance, I'd suggest that you create some sort of heat shield so that can doesn't lay constant direct heat to the PEX lines. I often allow builders to install a piece of valley flashing or similar sheet metal to get something between the can and the PEX, when the PEX can't be moved for whatever reason. There still needs to be some space though. An installation that close will void your PEX warranty, heat shield or not. I rarely encounter plumbers or electricians that know this requirement because it isn't in the code, but manufacturer's requirements have to be met too...Keeps us inspectors on our toes for sure.

Installing a can in a duct is a bad idea in my book. Even if you have a can that is rated for it, you're sacrificing airflow by having it in there.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:54 AM   #6
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Recessed lights in the same soffit as HVAC and PEX


I agree completely about the can in a duct. And with the listing and labeling requirements we need to comply with.

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