Safety and quality
User safety at home is determined by appropriate co-ordination between the safety level of the system’s “components”, including power cables and protective devices, and the lighting appliances.
It should also be noted that, while regulations governing residential power systems are not as strict as those concerning public areas, it is nevertheless important that the system meet "general" prerequisites.
To determine the degree of protection against electric shock, it is first necessary to divide products into three classes:
An appliance where electric safety is ensured by an additional protective cable (earthing) connected to the metal frame of the lamp.
An appliance where protection against electric shocks is not just ensured by fundamental insulation, but also by additional safety measures consisting of a double or reinforced insulation. These measures do not include earthing devices and do not depend on fitting conditions.
An appliance where protection against electric shocks is based on a very low voltage power supply (usually 12 or 24V), and where higher voltages are not produced.
A Class II appliance does not require an earthing. In general, EC labelling of products with a voltage above 50V ensures that the minimum safety requirements stated in the Low Voltage Directive issued by the European Community and implemented on a national level are met.
In addition to mandatory EC labelling, the presence on the appliance of the label of a third party institution, such as ENEC or IMQ, confirms that the standards for products established by the individual countries where such labels are used are met.
An appropriate choice and use of lighting appliances calls for consideration of protection against penetration of solids and liquids.
Lighting appliances should ensure a minimum protection index (IP) of 20; such degree of protection ensures that a standard testing finger cannot come into contact with live parts, but does not ensure any protection against the water penetration.
This therefore means that, while one cannot touch live metal parts directly, access to the inside of the appliance is not impossible.
As the protection index increases, protection against foreign bodies increases accordingly (Number 3 certifies protection against solid bodies of a 2.5 mm diameter. Number 4 certifies protection against solid bodies of a 1 mm diameter. Number 5 certifies protection against dust).
As to the second digit of the PI, 3 means that the appliance is protected against water splashed at a 60° angle from its vertical; 4 means it is protected against splashes from any direction, while 5 certifies protection against water jets.
It is particularly important to choose the right protection in case of appliances to be installed in damp areas (bathrooms) or outdoors.
It is further necessary to choose the appropriate product for the type of material on which it needs to be fitted (fitting surface); the safest products can be fitted directly on normally inflammable surfaces and carry the "F" label.
To ensure appropriate use of the product, the instructions specified on the same should anyway be complied with, both with respect to the type and power of the light source, and to the distance required from the illuminated objects (stated with the appropriate symbol on the appliance), as well as to the fitting of the product in view of protection from shocks or abnormal stress.
Finally, all the parts that need to be touched when using the product should comply with the temperature thresholds specified by the law.