A guide to the different bathroom lighting zones and what to keep in mind when installing lighting
First and foremost we need to stress here that installing any sort of electrical item, be it lighting or any other electrical fitting around the home, is best left to a professional and even more so when we are looking at the bathroom. As most of us know electricity and water do not mix well and when both are present as in the bathroom strict regulations are in place to make sure safety is paramount.
That said there is no reason why your bathroom should not have a lighting system that is not only functional but pleasing to the senses. These days it is possible to find attractive and functional light fittings for every area of the home.
Your bathroom should never be just somewhere that you perform your necessary daily ablutions but even if it is in your case then why not make it a pleasant place also. For many of us the bathroom is more than just a room to wash and shave etc. but a haven of relaxation and the place for a little ‘me time’. Your chosen lighting will be a major factor in the finished feel that your bathroom gives. However, before we start it might be sensible to understand the regulations regarding lighting fixtures and fittings in the bathroom.
The bathroom is especially dangerous from the point of view that there is a lot of water, steam and moisture around for much of the time, and as we have said before this does not mix well with electricity. To help with basic safety and to give guidance when installing light fittings the bathroom has been divided into zones and each zone has its fixed regulation with regards what type of light fitting can be used.
Zone 0 is inside the bath or inside the shower cubicle.
Zone 1 is the area directly above the bath or shower.
Zone 2 is the area immediately next to zone 1 and also the area around the wash basin.
Every light fitting has an IP rating, this means ingress rating. This can mean either solids or liquids and generally the IP rating is two numbers, the first refers to solid ingress and the second to liquid. Ingress means to enter and in the case of bathroom light fittings it refers to water or moisture. The various areas of the bathroom have different IP light fitting ratings from 0 to 7, but ratings for industry and outside the home can go up to 8.
Zone 0 is considered to be the most dangerous from an ingress point and light fittings here must be IP x 7.
Zone 1 can be up to 2.25 metres high and is rated IP x 4
Zone 2 has a rating of IP x 4
Whilst it is obviously necessary to bear safety in mind when choosing your bathroom light fittings don’t forget that it is possible to add design elements to your lighting that will create a stylish ambient room. There are ways to use lighting in the bathroom just as in any other room of the house and as long as the safety aspects are adhered to a beautiful and functional display can be created.
Remember to give your room a basic light source with a diffused warm light that is bright enough for normal every day living without bringing too much glare to the room. You will probably need to add brighter task lighting to the area around the wash basin where shaving and applying make-up will need a more directional light. It is possible to install bright over mirror light fittings or even hidden lights behind the mirror, just remember to keep in mind the zoning laws when choosing your fittings.
Depending on the size of your bathroom it may be possible to add more indirect light from a wall sconce or recessed lights. Remember that if your bathroom is going to be your place to relax and unwind then your choice of lighting need to reflect this. As long as you bear in mind the zoning areas and adhere to the recommended fittings within these areas your bathroom can be both a safe and welcoming place.