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Bathroom Lighting

Bathroom lighting needs to be planned to be effective and in the majority of cases suitabe IP rated light fittings must be used. It is essential to make the bathroom a relaxed functional space for washing, shaving and applying make up. Good use of different types of lighting in the bathroom will ensure that it is a bright shadow free space.

Many people spend thousands of pounds planning the perfect bathroom layout but give little thought to the lighting scheme. If you have a blank canvass to start from, then you are very fortunate, as you can choose your lighting well in advance and have the required wiring installed at an early stage.

Bathroom light fixtures must be IP rated if fitted in the majority of locations. IP stands for Ingress Protection, which in this case relates to water, either from a shower head or similar, or from steam. The first number relates to the impact resistance of the fitting and the second relates to its level of protection against water and steam. In both cases, the higher the number the greater the protection.

Bathroom Lighting Zones & Regulations

Why do bathroom lights have an IP rating?

Lighting in the bathroom is important. Regulations are very strict as to which lights you are able to use in a bathroom and to complicate matters, bathrooms have different zones, which determine what type of light you may use within that zone. Light fittings that are used in a bathroom are IP rated.

What does IP rating mean for bathroom lights?

Ingress Protection rating means entering, in the case of bathroom lights it means, water or steam entering a light fitting – Ingress protection means the amount it is protected. There are various Ingress Protection ratings =IP ratings.The higher the IP rate is, the more protected the light is. The rating refers to the light fittings ability to prevent solids or liquids penetrating the device's enclosure.

IP rating

An IP rating usually has 2 or 3 numbers after it, for example IP 68. The first number corresponds to solid material entering the light fitting. E.g. Dust, tools, fingers etc. The second number would correspond to water or steam entering the light fitting.

IP Ratings Table

Protection Against Solid Objects & Dust

Protection Against Fluids

First Number


Second Number



No Protection


No Protection


Protection against solid objects over 50mm, e.g. accidental touch by hands.


Protection against vertically falling drops of water.


Protection against solid objects over 12mm, e.g. fingers.


Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15 degrees from the vertical.


Protection against solid objects over 2.5mm (tools / wires).


Protection against sprays to 60 degrees from the vertical.


Protection against solid objects over 1mm (tools / wires / small wires).


Protection against water sprayed from all directions - limited ingress permitted.


Protection against dust - limited ingress (no harmful deposit).


Protection against low pressure jets of water from all direction - limited ingress permitted.


Totally protected against dust.


Protection against strong jets of water, e.g. for use on ship decks - limited ingress permitted.




Protection against the effects of immersion between 15cm and 1m.




Protection against long periods of immersion under pressure.

Every light fitting has an IP rating. Bathroom lights must have higher IP ratings than lights you would use in the lounge, dining room or bedrooms etc. Once you have found an IP rated light fitting it must now comply with the different bathroom zone areas.

Bathroom Zones

Ip ratings for different bathroom lighting zones

All installations must comply to the guidelines which are based on a zone area which is similar to the installation of lighting around a swimming pool area.
Each ZONE AREA has an IP rating. IP rating = Ingress Protection Rating. Each ZONE AREA is sought from the degree of the risk of electrical shock.

Bathroom Lighting Ideas

The light in a bathroom needs to be as bright and as evenly spread as possible without any glare to the eye. The most important area to concentrate on usually, is around the wash basin area for make - up application and shaving etc. It is important to remember that a central ceiling light will create shadows whilst facing into a mirror at the basin area. The use of mirror lights on or over the mirror will help combat this.

Bathroom light fittings are mainly ceiling mounted, wall mounted, illuminated mirrors or and something to create a calming atmosphere. To achieve the best effect you should consider combining at least two of these types in your bathroom. The important thing to remember is that it can almost always never be too bright.

Lights for bathrooms are available in many styles to complement every design type from ultra modern to the more traditional or period bathroom. In a smaller space or toilet, a small flush mounted energy saving fitting is a good choice, whilst in a larger or period bathroom, a crystal fitting or chandelier may be more desirable.

Recessed downlights are becoming increasingly popular. They are inexpensive, versatile and you can have as many or as few as you like. They need to be chosen with care to ensure that you use the right type for its location.

Bathroom wall lights are primarily used to illuminate an area that would otherwise be in shadow. A good example would be above or alongside a mirror or mirrored cabinet to shine on your face whilst applying make up or shaving, but not both at the same time I hope?

Bathroom mirror lights are an excellent idea and will shine directly into your face. They are available in different sizes and some even have demister pads attached to ensure that they remain clear when there is steam in the room.

Ambient mood lighting is really the finishing touch. The best example I can think of is candles around the bath whilst having a relaxing soak. This effect can be created by using low-level background illumination, normally in the form of white or coloured LED's. A good example would be some small LED’s fitted in the bath panel, shower plinth or sunk into the floor. If you are starting your bathroom from scratch, they can be recessed into the wall around the top of the bath to create a lovely effect. LED ribbon concealed behind a pelmet on one wall can look absolutely stunning.

Plain mirrors are an excellent way of making a bathroom look brighter and larger that it is. A mirrored wall can add extra dimension to any bathroom. The careful placement of any mirror can transform a bathroom into a brighter larger space.

If you require any further help or advice on selecting suitably rated bathroom lighting, please telephone 0151 650 2138 to speak with a member of staff, or use the contact us tab on the top menu to send a message.

© Universal Lighting Services Ltd