Understanding Bathroom Lighting Regulations

You may have noticed that bathroom lights have an IP rating, but what is this? Well, adhering to bathroom lighting regulations is very important and the laws are strict concerning what lights you are able to use in the bathroom. And to make matters just that little bit more complicated, bathroom lighting regs divide your bathroom up into different zones and these zones determine what type of light you may use within that zone. Confused?! As with most regulations, it is a complex field but we will do our best to explain it clearly here.

The IP rating of a bathroom light is its Ingress Protection rating. Ingress means ‘entering’ and with bathroom lights this means the amount of water or steam that enters a bathroom light fitting. So the IP rating will give you an indication of how much the light fitting is protected – the higher the rating the more the bathroom light is protected and the safer it will be for fitting in a damp, wet, steamy room.

There are usually two numbers after an IP rating and these relate to solids and liquids – the first number refers to the solid material that can enter the light fitting such as dust, tools, fingers etc. The second number refers to the water or steam entering the light fitting.

See the table below for the different ratings. As you can, a light fitting with an IP rating of IP68, is as protected as a light can get. When it comes to looking at the zones of your bathroom, you will need a light with high IP ratings around Zones 0 and 1, which includes inside a bath or shower cubicle or the area directly above. A lower IP rating is suitable for Zone 2, which are the areas next to Zone 1 and the area around the basin.

Protection Against Solid Objects & Dust Protection Against Fluids
First Number Description / Test Second Number Description / Test
0 No Protection 0 No Protection
1 Protection against solid objects over 50mm, e.g. accidental touch by hands. 1 Protection against vertically falling drops of water.
2 Protection against solid objects over 12mm, e.g. fingers. 2 Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15 degrees from the vertical.
3 Protection against solid objects over 2.5mm (tools / wires). 3 Protection against sprays to 60 degrees from the vertical.
4 Protection against solid objects over 1mm (tools / wires / small wires). 4 Protection against water sprayed from all directions – limited ingress permitted.
5 Protection against dust – limited ingress (no harmful deposit). 5 Protection against low pressure jets of water from all direction – limited ingress permitted.
6 Totally protected against dust. 6 Protection against strong jets of water, e.g. for use on ship decks – limited ingress permitted.
7 Protection against the effects of immersion between 15cm and 1m.
8 Protection against long periods of immersion under pressure.

Another aspect to consider when understanding bathroom lighting regulations is the brightness of the light. The light in a bathroom needs to be as bright and as evenly spread out as possible without any glare. More focused lights can be installed over the basin or above mirrors to help with applying make-up, washing, shaving and other bathroom activities.

We hope that helps you understand bathroom lighting regulations a little better. While your hear we strongly recommend taking a look at our bathroom lights where you will find a huge selection of quality IP rated light fittings for the bathroom.

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