Soffit and Eaves Lighting
You can illuminate and light up the exterior of your home effectively and on a budget with soffit lighting. Soffit lighting is a great way to illuminate the outside of your project discreetly and the direct and indirect light reflected off your brick or rendered walls is excellent at providing low-glare lighting to the areas surrounding your home.
So, if you want light washing down the exterior walls of your home you might want to do this with soffit lights, but what is a soffit? In the UK we call the exposed underside of a roof overhand as a soffit. Soffit boards are often closed with a thin board, traditional timber or plywood and more recently uPVC plastic. Cut a hole, pop in a recessed spotlight and you have an installation that is quicker and cheaper than installing lights in the ground lighting up.
If you have questions we have a handy Q&A at the bottom of this page
Eaves and Soffit lighting - Some questions we are often asked
Do recessed soffit lights need to be fire rated?
In the UK most constructions do not have a fire compartment. So, most of the time you do not need fire rated lights. You will need to use fire rated lights if you are cutting holes into a fire compartment.
I am worried about the heat from the light should I so use a fire rated downlight?
No, fire rated lights get just as hot and non fire rated fixtures. If you have concerns about heat, you will almost certainly want to use lights with LED lamps; these provide less heat and the lamps last longer too!
Everything on my home is plastic, soffit, eaves and cladding. Can I still use soffit lights?
All the fixtures here are 'F' marked meaning they can be used in normally flammable mounting surfaces like wood. Plastic can deform and discolour before it melts so you should consider using a LED fixture. This will also give you a long lamp life.
I am not sure if I have a soffit
Because of varying roof designs, not all properties have soffit boards. Soffit refers to the material forming a ceiling from the top of an exterior house wall to the outer edge of the roof or fascia board, i.e. bridging the gap between the external brick, block or cladding and the roofline. Soffit boards or planks are often fixed to the underside of the eaves.
What colour white should I pick?
When lighting is fixed into the soffit boards great lighting effects can be created that wash the walls with light. Grey and white render and paint look great with a neutral white lamp. Warm paint colours and brickwork is great with warm white light. If you are not sure you can always use a fixture that has CCT switching to let you decide once they are installed.
Coloured LED fixtures can also be used to make more of a decorative effect if desired so switch to red for Xmas or green for Halloween etc.
Maintenance. Easy of a pain?
Some soffit recessed lighting that use GU10 lamps can be relamped without removing the fixture from the soffit. Others might need to be removed to change the lamp which can be a pain. Long-life LED lamps are a boon in this scenario.
What IP rating should I use?
Wiring regulations would suggest that ingress protection of IP23 would be sufficient in this location but using a fitting with a higher IP figure can only ensure extra protection in exposed locations.