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Brighten up your bathroom, the safe way

The days may be getting longer and brighter but it is still very important to have a correctly lit bathroom. This will help you to avoid straining your eyes or going to work in the morning looking like a clown because you couldn’t see your face in front of the mirror.

The bathroom is unlike any other room in the home in that ordinary lights are not suitable due to the high risk of water damage and the danger of electric shocks this creates. Depending on the size of your bathroom and how you want it lit, there are a variety of different styles to suit, these include wall lights, down lights and lighted mirrors or cabinets.

Bathrooms are divided into zones depending on the proximity to water and how much may come into contact with the lighting in that area. Each zone has a minimum IP rating and can only contain lights which exceed this minimum value, the IP rating increases the closer the lighting is to water. IP rating, which stands for Ingress or International Protection rating will always be suffixed by two numbers which represent the level of protection. The first digit identifies the level of protection against solid particles, the second is the protection against liquids. For examples purposes only, a light with a rating of IP11 has limited protection against large surfaces and droplets of water. IP34 protects against tools and splashing water, whilst IP68 offers the highest protection being dust tight and suitable for use under water. The IP rating and full details will be depicted in the manufacturers specification which is advisable to read prior to product installation.

There are four zones outlined for a bathroom, however some of them may not be in use, but they are always present. On entering the bathroom, the zones begin with zone 3 which is an area unlikely to come into contact with water, therefore lights in this area do not require an IP rating as the risks are low.

Logically the next area is called zone 2 which is a band of 60cm situated 225cm over the bath and around its perimeter and around basin taps. Lighting in this zone must be splash proof, it is not likely to be saturated here but will no doubt come into contact with water. The minimum rating is IP44.

Within the 225cm of the bath, in close proximity of the shower is zone 1, any lighting here must be waterproof also with a minimum rating of IP44.

The next zone, 0 is one which is less commonly utilised. It comprises the area inside the bath or shower where lighting must be total immersion proof as it will frequently be covered by water. Fittings here must be low voltage, maximum 12 volts with a rating of at least IP67.

If any other water jets or cleaning equipment will be used in the bathroom then all lighting should meet the minimum rating requirements of IP67.

All product specifications should be read fully and it is advisable to consult a qualified electrician to check the regulations.

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