I find very little discussion of this issue on the net. My son has a Nutone Scovil 60 watt max incandescent recessed can light, damp location rated, in a shower with a high ceiling. Its thermal protection switch has been flaking out and now it is totally dead.

I contracted Nutone who tells me they have been out of the light fixture business for many years and don't have that part nor can advise on a replacement. I read that these switches are not generic but engineered to work with the fixture's particular design.

The fixture is not in an easy position to replace as it's been crowded by later added A/C ducts and a distribution box. (It's not covered by insulation and has plenty of air around it and I can reach the electrical connections, but it will be a pain to remove the fixture).

So.... I wonder if it's okay code wise to remove the switch and use an LED replacement in place of the 60 watt incandescent?

To see how hot they get I unscrewed a LED from my kitchen spot that had been on for hours and no part of the bulb could even be described as warm. My thought is if I can't feel any heat from the LED (whereas a 60 watt incandescent gets too hot to hold) then what purpose does the thermal protect switch serve?

I thought I would cross out 60 incandescent watt max and write "LED only" realizing that someone could ignore the warning... but that's always been possible such as over-lamping with a 100 watt instead of 60.


Yes it has always been possible to replace a 60 with a 100 in one of these fixtures but that would set off the thermal even faster. Back in the day before thermal cutouts were installed people started fires by using an oversized lamp in a fixture that was not protected. If you cover it with insulation it holds the heat and only exacerbates the problem.

Replace the incandescent with the LED and hopefully the cooler lamp will keep it from tripping the aging thermal relay.

If it still trips you may have to remove the thermal and replace it or replace the whole fixture. 😞

Good luck!

  • It no longer trips... It's totally dead so the light doesn't come on at all. The thermal switch is not available and the fixture will be difficult to replace. I'm wondering if it's okay to run without the thermal switch if using an LED since the heat output is like night and day compared with a 60 watt incandescent.
    – PJD
    Jan 1 '16 at 22:36
  • 2
    The thermals were originally installed for can lights that are "in-contact" with the insulation and would accept an incandescent lamp. To prevent the oversizing of lamps that generate too much heat. The problem with a retrofit lamp is it allows the future use of an incandescent that is oversized. It would be better to replace the screwshell with a hard wired LED so no one can oversize in the future.
    – ArchonOSX
    Jan 1 '16 at 22:39

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