Water and electricity make for a dangerous combination. For this reason, choosing your bathroom lighting is an important decision, and you need to be familiar with the following terms:
- Bathroom Zones
- IP Ratings
When you head out to purchase your bathroom lights, you must ensure you choose a fitting with the appropriate IP rating for the Bathroom Zone in which it is placed. With that in mind, let’s look at what Bathroom Zones and IP Ratings are.
When you choose a lighting solution for your bathroom, you must establish which area of the bathroom you intend to place it in. The critical question is how likely it is to be exposed to water. Electrical safety regulations exist to break down the bathroom space into clearly-defined zones so that you can select the appropriate light fitting to ensure everyone who uses the bathroom is safe. Generally speaking:
- Zone 0 is the horizontal area where water falls and sits (i.e. inside the bathtub or the shower floor).
- Zone 1 is the vertical (wall) space which is in direct contact with the edges of Zone 0, up to a height of 2.25m from the floor.
- Zone 2 is the vertical (wall) space in direct contact with the edges of Zone 1, extending a minimum of 60cm horizontally and 75cm vertically.
All light fittings are given a designated IP Rating that instructs their suitability for specific environments, both indoors and outdoors. The acronym IP stands for ‘Ingress Protection’, and it is followed by two numbers which indicate its level of protection against:
- Intrusion by foreign objects like dust (the 1st number) – level 6 is the maximum
- Waterproofing level (the 2nd number) – level 8 is the maximum
So if the IP number is IP44, its protection against foreign objects is rated 4, and its waterproofing level is also 4.
Which lights are appropriate for which zones?
If you decide to have lighting inside the bath, sink or shower tray, the fittings must be low voltage with a minimum rating of IP67 to ensure they are immersion proof.
If you fit a light in Zone 1, you must purchase a lamp with a minimum rating of IP44. This will ensure that the fitting is suitable to withstand water spray from any direction. If the light you choose uses a 240V supply, you will need to install a 30ma Residual Current Device (RCD) to protect the circuitry in this zone.
As with Zone 1, if you want to fit a light into a Zone 2 area, you will need a fitting with a minimum rating of IP44.
Outside of zones
Any area that does not fall into Zones 0, 1 or 2 is well away from direct contact with any water. As such, you are not required to fit lights with any particular IP rating in these areas. A good suggestion is to purchase recessed downlights to create an even spread of light throughout your bathroom. These can be used in addition to other light fittings for a layering effect.
We strongly recommends that you hire an electrician to install your bathroom lighting. This is the best way to ensure everything is installed safely and securely, keeping you and your loved ones from any risk of harm whilst using the bathroom.