Guide written by:
Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff
Whether you're after a strip light for a mirror, a swivel spotlight for the wall or a basic ceiling light, it's essential to choose the right lighting for your bathroom. Your fixtures must be functional, attractive and conform to all safety standards. Follow our guide to cast some light on your options!
- Protection index
- Spotlight and wall light
- Strip and ceiling light
- Colour temperature
How to choose your bathroom lighting
Bathrooms are primarily functional rooms. But there's nothing stopping you from creating a relaxing and enjoyable space to spend time in – especially considering it's where most of us kickstart the day!
Since many bathrooms don't have windows, it is important that your space be lit as efficiently as possible. No matter which light fixture you settle on, it's always better to go for a whitelight rather than a yellow-toned one in order to imitate daylight.
Spotlights can be either recessed or rail-mounted. Installed in the ceiling, on the walls or over a piece of furniture, spotlights can work just about anywhere!
Spotlights come in a range of options from fixed to swivel models, round or square designs, and wall-mounted or built-in fixtures. Some are designed to work with 230 V power while others operate at 12 V and require the use of a transformer. These days, more and more spotlights are equipped with LED technology instead of a traditional incandescent or halogen lightbulb. LED lights are powerful and help to reduce energy consumption.
The most important factor to consider when installing a spotlight is making sure it is suitable for the zone where it will be installed. To do so, it is necessary to refer to the relevant lighting zone standards.
Bathroom wall lights
Like spotlights, bathroom wall lights can be installed almost anywhere in the bathroom. That said, you will have to take into account the fact that wall lights will protrude into the room.
Depending on the model you can opt for indirect or direct lighting. Bathroom wall lights can be designed to be entirely waterproof (IP 67). Alternatively, you might go for a more stylish model that offers less protection against splashes and dust. In any case, it's important to check the IP rating of the light to ensure it is suited to its intended installation location.
Bathroom strip lights
Strip lights consist of either a horizontal fluorescent tube or, for more recent models, a series of LED lights. These fixtures are generallyused to light up a mirror or sink for brushing teeth or washing your face.
In most cases, they are equipped with their own light switch and some models are designed for 230 V power. It is especially recommended to choose a white light for this type of light.
Bathroom mirror lights
Like strip lights, mirror lights are installed above the mirror. They can usually be swivelled and provide indirect lighting that won't cause glare.
Equipped with a traditional lightbulb or LED lights, mirror lights will highlight your bathroom countertop and produce a lot of light – as long as you choose the right lightbulbs!
Bathroom ceiling lights
As the name suggests, these lights are fixed to the ceiling and are designed to be the primary source of light in the bathroom. That said, a ceiling light alone may not always provide enough light and can be used alongside a series of wall lights if required.
Bathroom fittings: lighting installation
Regardless of design, a bathroom light must conform to certain regulations. The minimum IP rating of a light will depend on the volume of your bathroom and the zone it is expected to light. It is essential to ensure you have sufficient splash protection.
There are three different lighting classes:
Class 1 : single insulated, earth required.
Class 2 : double insulated, earth not required.
Class 3 : operates at very low voltage (less than 50V), earth not required.
Bathroom lighting zones
Bathrooms are split into several zones. Each zone requires a specific type of lighting appliance to ensure your safety.
This refers to the interior volume of the bathtub or shower itself. No lights are permitted in this zone with the exception of factory-installed lighting (e.g. lights in a spa bath).
This refers to the area above the bathtub or shower up to a height of 2.25 metres from the floor. Only class 3 lights with a minimum IP rating of IP45 can be used (although IP65 is generally still the norm).
This refers to the area that stretches 60 cm outside the perimeter of the bath or shower and a height of 2.25 metres from the floor. Only class 2 lighting with a minimum IP rating of IP 44 can be installed.
This refers to any area outside zones 0, 1 or 2. There are no specific IP requirements in this zone as there is limited risk of water jets. However, it is still recommended to choose lighting with a minimum IP rating of IP20.
Bathroom lights zones and fixtures
Class 3 IP X5
Class 3 IP X5
Class 2 IP 44
Class 2 IP 44
Class 2 IP 44
Class 2 IP 44
Class 1, 2 or 3 - IP 20 minimum
X = installation prohibited
How to light your bathroom
As mentioned above, bathrooms are functional rooms but should also be conducive to relaxation. With this in mind, your lighting should be both practical and attractive.
Designed to set the mood, decorative lighting should be considered with some care. Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to installing lighting around different areas of the bathroom (provided you follow safety regulations). LED strips, mini spotlights or even a light-up shower heads... there are so many choices out there, so let your imagination run free!
Regardless of the time of day, functional lighting should provide enough light for all your daily tasks from shaving to styling your hair or doing your makeup. There shouldn't be any dark areas in the room and the light should be as white in tone as possible to mimic daylight. This can be achieved more easily when you have several sources of light. There should be no direct lighting around mirrors in order to avoid glare.
If you have a smaller bathroom and you have just one light source, a great option is to install a dimmer switch to play around with the intensity of the light.
The colour temperature of a lightbulb is indicated according to the kelvin (K) scale. A neutral light is around 4000/4500 K whereas a warm light is normally about 2500 or 3000 K.
5 tips for choosing your bathroom lighting
Choose a daylight lightbulb of at least 4500 K for use around the mirror.
Do not hesitate to add decorative lighting to avoid your windowless bathroom feeling like a hospital!
If you have a bathtub, avoid directing any light towards the headrest or you'll end up with a headache just as you're trying to kick back!
Big fan of hydrotherapy but don't have a spa bath? Why not create your own chromotherapy experience with warm, decorative lighting?
Finally, never ignore safety standards. Check the IP rating and follow the zone requirements of each device scrupulously.
Guide written by:
Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff, 128 guides
Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres; I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites. for 4 years now, I am restaoring and bulding an extrension to a bungalow in the heart of the welsh countyside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electricty, anything goes! We have, my wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions, and to orientate and advise you on coosing your tools? Easy!