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The Ultimate Bathroom Lighting Guide

The Ultimate Bathroom Lighting Guide

  2023-06-05         sparksdirect         Advice » Lighting Design Advice,   Product News » Lighting News

Proper lighting is essential in any room of your home, and your bathroom is no exception. Whether you're getting ready for the day ahead or winding down for a relaxing evening, having the right bathroom lighting can make a world of difference.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about bathroom lighting. This will include different types of lights, safety considerations when installing lighting in your bathroom, the concept of light zones as well as tips and some advice on how to choose the best bathroom lights for your home.

Read more to find out about:

Types of lighting for the bathroom

When it comes to bathroom lighting, you are completely spoiled for choice. Each type serves a specific purpose and can contribute to creating the perfect ambiance in your bathroom.

Overhead lights

Overhead lights - see Minima Round IP65 GU10 Fixed Downlight in Matt Black 76mm Cutout Recessed Ceiling Light, Astro 1249017

Overhead lights, often in the form of recessed ceiling lights, provide general illumination for the entire bathroom. They distribute light evenly and are ideal for larger bathrooms or those without windows. These lights help eliminate shadows and ensure a well-lit space.

Ceiling lights

Ceiling lights are a popular choice for bathrooms. They come in various styles, including flush-mount fixtures and semi-flush mounts. Ceiling lights also provide ample light and can be an attractive focal point in your bathroom's overall design.

LED lights

LED lights (which standard from light-emitting diodes) are energy-efficient and long-lasting, making them an excellent choice for bathroom lighting. They conserve nearly all the energy they generate into light, with a very small amount wasted as heat.

LED lights are known for offering bright, clean illumination and can be used to create both task lighting and ambient lighting effects.

Vanity lights

Vanity lights are commonly installed above or alongside bathroom mirrors. They provide focused illumination for personal grooming tasks like applying makeup or shaving.

Vanity lights come in various styles, including sconces, vertical bars and horizontal fixtures. This means they come with the flexibility allowing you to find the perfect match for your bathroom décor.

Wall sconces

Wall sconces for bathrooms are light fixtures that are mounted on the wall, typically at eye level or slightly above, and designed to provide illumination for your entire bathroom while enhancing the overall design of the space.

These fixtures are also an excellent choice for adding both functional and decorative lighting to your bathroom.

Bathroom lighting safety

Ensuring safety in the bathroom extends beyond choosing the right fixtures and bulbs. It also involves understanding and implementing proper bathroom light safety measures.

From electrical considerations to moisture resistance, a comprehensive understanding of bathroom light safety is essential for a secure and comfortable environment.

Are bathroom lights safe?

Yes, bathroom lighting is safe if correct installation procedures are followed.

The safety of bathroom lights is a common concern for many homeowners. Bathrooms are high-moisture areas, which can raise concerns about electrical safety. Obviously, the combination of water and electricity can be fatal in many circumstances. Incorrect installation can lead to potentially deadly electric shocks and also devastating fires.

However, rest assured that bathroom lights are designed and manufactured with safety in mind. They undergo rigorous testing to ensure they meet safety standards and regulations. In particular, bathroom lights must:

§  Be rated in a strict grading system known as Ingress Protection (IP), and

§  Only be installed within particular bathroom zones.

We will discuss these concepts in further detail below.

What are IP ratings?

An IP (Ingress Protection) rating is a two-digit code that represents the level of protection provided by a light fixture against solid objects and liquids. It is also known as an International (or Internal) Protection Mark.

The first digit indicates the protection level against the ingress of solid objects, such as dirt or dust.

The second digit represents the protection against moisture ingress at different levels of angles and intensities.

In the United Kingdom, bathroom lights IP ratings are determined by British Standard BS EN 60529:1992.

The first digit – protection from foreign body and particulate ingress

First digitProtection from foreign body and particular ingress
Also referred to X. No rating for protection against foreign body and particulate ingress.
Protection against solid objects larger than 50mm (i.e. from accidental hand contact with an open palm). No protection from deliberate body contact.
Protection against solid objects larger than 12mm (i.e. accidental finger contact).
Protection against impact form solid objects larger than 2.5mm (i.e. tools and wires)
Protection against solid objects larger than 1mm (i.e. fine tools and wires, but also nails, screws, and other potentially invasive small objects. Would include larger insects.)
Partial protection against dust and other particulates, so ingress will not damage or impede the satisfactory performance of internal components.
6Complete protection against dust and other particulates. Vacuum seal tested against continuous airflow.

Second digit – protection from moisture ingress

Second digit
protection from moisture ingress
Also referred to X. No rating for protection against moisture ingress.
Protection against vertically falling droplets, such as condensation. Enough protection so no damage is incurred when an item is upright.
Protection against vertically dripping water when enclosure is tilted up to 15° off vertical.
Protection against direct moisture spray at angles up to 60° off vertical.
Protection against splashing water from any direction. Tested for 10 minutes minimum with an oscillating spray (only a limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects).
Protection against low-pressure jets (6.3 mm) of directed water from any angle (only limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects).
Offers protection against powerful jets (with a 12.5 mm nozzle) of directed water from any direction.
Protection against full immersion for up to half an hour at depths between 15 cm and 1 metre (limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects).
8Protection against extended immersion under higher pressure (i.e. greater depths). 
Certain parameters of this test will be set and advertised by the product’s manufacturer.
May include extra factors such as temperature fluctuations and flow rates, depending on equipment type.
9Protection against high-pressure, high-temperature jet sprays, wash-downs or steam-cleaning procedures. Most often seen in certain road vehicle applications.

Bathroom lighting zones

Bathroom lighting zones - To ensure safety and proper functionality, bathroom lighting is divided into different zones based on their proximity to water sources

To ensure safety and proper functionality, bathroom lighting is divided into different zones based on their proximity to water sources. Understanding these light zones and their requirements is crucial when choosing and installing bathroom lights.

What is IP zoning?

IP zoning refers to the practice of dividing the bathroom into specific areas or zones based on their proximity to water sources.

Each zone has specific IP (Ingress Protection) rating requirements to ensure the lights can withstand the conditions present in that area.

The zones are zones 0-3, and are explained in further detail below.

What IP rating do bathroom lights need to be?

Bathroom lights require different IP ratings depending on the zone they are located in.

The following zones are outlined in British Standard (BS) 7671, sometimes called the IEE Wiring Regulations. 

§  Zone 0 – the bathtub and inside the shower. It comes into water with a lot of steam. In Zone 1, an IP67 lighting is the most appropriate lighting, which is a fixture you can submerge under water. This is to ensure you aren’t electrocuted when you bathe.

§  Zone 1 - the area directly above the bath or shower, extending up to a height of 2.25 meters from the bathroom floor. In this zone, it is recommended to use fixtures with a minimum IP65 rating for optimal safety. Fixtures with an IP44 rating may also be suitable for this area. Many shower lights are designed with an IP65 rating, making them a secure choice for installation above your showers.

§  Zone 2 - the space extending 0.6 meters from the outer edge of the wash basin or bath up to a height of 2.25 meters from the bathroom floor. It is essential here to use light fixtures with a minimum rating of IP44 for enhanced safety. It’s a good idea to consider the area within a 60cm radius from any water source, such as the wash basin, as an extension of zone 2 for precautionary measures.

§  Zone 3 (also known as Outside Zones) - refers to the areas in the bathroom that are located outside of zone 0, 1 and 2. In this zone, there is no direct exposure to water jets or splashes. While the risk of water contact is minimal, it’s still a good idea to use light fixtures with a minimum rating of IP20. By opting for an IP20 rated fitting or higher, you can ensure a secure lighting installation in this zone.

What wattage is best for the bathroom?

When selecting the wattage for your bathroom lights, it's essential to strike a balance between functionality and ambiance. Brighter lights are generally ideal for grooming tasks and ensuring visibility, while softer lights can create a relaxing atmosphere for bathing or unwinding.

For general illumination in larger bathrooms, consider using overhead lights or ceiling lights with higher wattage bulbs ranging from 60 to 100 watts. In smaller bathrooms, 40 to 60 watts may be enough.

Vanity lights and above-mirror lights should provide enough brightness to eliminate shadows and facilitate grooming activities (like shaving or applying makeup). Opt for bulbs with wattages between 25 and 60 watts, depending on the size of the fixture and the desired level of illumination.

How to choose the best lights for the bathroom

How to choose the best lights for the bathroom - Roma Polished Copper Bathroom Wall Light with Opal Conical Glass Shade IP44 G9 40W, Astro 1050010

Choosing the best bathroom lighting for your home involves considering various factors to ensure functionality, style and safety.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to make the right choice.

Determine how you want your bathroom to 'feel'

Consider the overall aesthetic and mood you want to create in your bathroom. Do you prefer a bright and invigorating space or a soft and relaxing ambiance? Understanding your desired atmosphere will help guide your lighting choices.

Assess the size and layout of your bathroom

Take into account how big or small your bathroom is, as well as the placement of fixtures such as mirrors, sinks and showers. This will help you determine the number of lights needed and their placement for optimal illumination.

Consider the style and design

Bathroom lights come in a wide range of styles, from sleek and modern to traditional and decorative. Choose fixtures that complement the overall design theme of your bathroom and enhance its aesthetic appeal. You can read more about how lighting impacts interior design here.

Astro Lighting offers a wide range of high-quality and stylish light fittings for the bathroom, with a large range of IP44 bathroom wall and ceiling lights that can be safely mounted.

Ensure proper IP rating

As discussed earlier, consider the IP rating requirements for each light zone in your bathroom. Ensure that the fixtures you choose have the appropriate IP rating to withstand the moisture and dampness present in those areas.

Select the right bulb type

Consider energy-efficient options such as LED bulbs, which provide longevity and cost savings over time. LED lights also offer versatility in terms of colour, temperature and dimmability, allowing you to customise the lighting to suit your preferences.

Seek professional guidance

When trying to find the perfect lighting for your bathroom, it can help to work with a professional like an interior designer or architect. However, it’s important to also work with a registered electrician when it comes to wiring and installation as there are a lot of potential safety hazards when fitting lighting in a space like the bathroom that is exposed to water.

Looking for new bathroom lights?

Looking for new bathroom lights - Mallon LED Bronze Bathroom Ceiling / Wall Light Glass Diffuser 15.3W CCT 2700K/3000K/4000K IP44 Astro 1125016

Proper bathroom lighting is crucial for creating a functional, safe and inviting space.

By understanding the different types of bathroom lights, the concept of light zones and the importance of IP ratings, you can make informed decisions when choosing the right fixtures for your home. We hope the advice in this article has been of some assistance.

If you're in search of high-quality bathroom lights, look no further. Here at Sparks Direct, you'll find a wide selection of stylish and functional lighting fixtures suitable for every bathroom style and budget.

Browse our collection of bathroom lights today and transform your bathroom into the well-lit and inviting space you’ve been dreaming of!