The Definitive Guide to Bathroom Lighting

Your bathroom lighting questions answered!


If you’re perplexed by bathroom lighting then look no further than this comprehensive guide.

Document Contents:

Why are bathroom lights different?

As everyone knows, water and electricity should never mix. It’s because of this that bathroom lights are different. They require special attention in production to ensure that splashes, steam, condensation etc can’t ingress and cause faults; or worse – injury.

In order to ensure safety, bathroom lights are made to specific ratings. Which can vary in requirement depending on the location they are sited within the bathroom. These are called IP Ratings.

IP Ratings

IP stands for “Ingress Protection”. It indicates the protection level against solids and liquids. “IP” is followed by two digits with the first one indicating solids protection and the second indicating liquids protection.

First Digit

  • 0 – Not Protected
  • 1 – Protected from objects larger than 50mm
  • 2 – Protected from objects larger than 12.5mm
  • 3 – Protected from objects larger than 2.5mm
  • 4 – Protected from objects larger than 1mm
  • 5 – Protected from majority of dust
  • 6 – Dust tight

Second Digit

  • 0 – Not Protected
  • 1 – Protected from vertical drips of water
  • 2 – Protected from drips of water up to 15° from vertical
  • 3 – Protected from spraying water up to 60° from vertical
  • 4 – Protected from spraying water from all directions
  • 5 – Protected from water jets
  • 6 – Protected from powerful water jets
  • 7 – Suitable for immersion up to 1 metre
  • 8 – Suitable for continuous immersion beyond 1 metre

So now you know what IP Ratings are and what they mean, what rating do you need? This depends on what zone in the bathroom the light will be fitted. Let’s look at bathroom zones.

Bathroom Zones

The bathroom is divided into 4 areas. These are called “zones”. Each bathroom zone requires a certain level of IP Rating to be considered safe. To be specific it’s the second digit in the IP Rating which you need to consider for bathrooms. These consist of:

  • Zone 0 – This is inside the bath or shower itself. Lights in this zone need to be low voltage and have an IP Rating of at least IPX7. (X is used here as a place holder as it does not matter what rating is given for protection against solid objects)
  • Zone 1 – This is the area above a bath or shower up to 2.25 metres from floor level. An IP rating of IPX4 is required here.
  • Zone 2 – This an area of 0.6 metres added on top of the previous zone (1). This also includes the area above any sink 0.6 metres from the taps.
  • Not Zoned (Previously Zone 3) – This no longer requires a specific IP rating. Any fitting can be used unless specifically stated otherwise. However with the large range of IPX4+ lighting we offer we would always recommend sticking to IPX4.
bathroom zones
Bathroom Zones

What Lights are Suitable for Bathrooms?

Any light fitting with an IP rating of 44 or higher is safe for use anywhere in the bathroom (providing it’s not being submerged). As a general rule a light is suitable for bathroom use if it is IP44 rated.

What Types of Bathroom Light are there?

There are many different styles available in bathroom lighting. So whether you’re looking for modern or traditional, a wall light or a pendant – you’re covered!

Bathroom Chandeliers

There are chandeliers suitable for bathroom use to add sparkle and elegance to an otherwise often disregarded room. Make your bathroom stand out from the rest with something more decorative.

Bathroom Ceiling Light

Flush fit and semi flush fit bathroom ceiling lights provide a general output of light and come in a variety of styles. Bathroom ceiling lights can be minimal or ornate so you’re sure to find a design of your liking. The provide a general source of light.

Bathroom Spotlights

Bathroom spotlights come in various styles. Available as adjustable spotlight clusters or as fixed downward spotlights. These are great space saving forms of lighting which give a good directional form of bathroom lighting.

Recessed Bathroom Lighting

Recessed bathroom spotlights are great choices for those with low ceiling heights. They are also a good option for those looking for a sleek modern appearance. Providing a good level of light these unobtrusive fittings can give a clean finish to the interior.

Bathroom Pendants

There are also ceiling pendants available for use in bathrooms. They come in various styles and are ideal for those with higher ceilings in their bathrooms because of the longer drop. Get a better concentration of light over the basin with a bathroom ceiling pendant.

Bathroom Wall Lights

Bathroom wall lights are available in many different styles and are great choices for those with big bathrooms, or where ceiling lights are not an option. If you’re looking for a wall lights that’s individually switched there are many bathroom wall lights with pull cord switches available. This allows you to control the overall ambience by turning wall lights off separately to the main lighting.

Illuminated Bathroom Mirrors

The vast majority of bathrooms find space to accommodate a mirror, so If you’re looking for a little extra light why not use a mirror with an inbuilt light source? Illuminated bathroom mirrors provide a functional light without the need of finding wall space for a fitting. If additional wall lights are not an option this is a perfect two for one option.

Top Tips for Bathroom Lighting

  • Ensure you have the right IP Rating for the chosen Bathroom Zone.
  • Calculate how much light you need. Measure the room in metres and multiply the length by the width. Then multiply this number by 250. This will give you a total recommended amount of lumens needed to light this space.
  • Use LED bulbs when applicable to ensure a high output of light.
  • Paler colour palettes reflect light better so consider a lighter paint or tiling.
  • Make mirrors well lit.
  • Consider switched wall lights for control over ambience.
  • Ensure sufficient light over counter tops.
  • Between 2700K and 3000K (warm white) is usually the best colour temperature of light in a bathroom.