The Ultimate Guide to LED Lights in Bathroom

LED lights in bathroom featured image

Bathroom lighting has come a long way from simple overhead fixtures to modern designs that are integrated with advanced LED light sources. With modern bathroom LED lighting, you have a range of options to choose from, including recessed downlights, mirror lights, and contemporary fixtures that allow you to customize the lighting via phone apps to match your needs and personal style.

So if you are planning to remodel your bathroom, consider incorporating LED lighting for enhanced functionality and atmosphere.

Basics

Correlated Color Temperature CCT

National Electrical Code (NEC) Regulations

When choosing LED lights for your bathroom, it’s important to select luminaries that are pursuant to the National Electrical Code (NEC) regulations. 

These regulations ensure safe electrical design, installation, and inspection to protect against electrical hazards. 

The NEC requires at least one permanent light fixture in a bathroom, controlled by a wall switch. This can be a ceiling light, vanity light, or a light/exhaust fan combination.

Lumens

Lumens measure the total amount of visible light from a source related to brightness levels. You’ll typically need between 50-75 lumens per square foot of space for your bathroom.

Correlated Color Temperature(CCT)

Concerning color temperature, measured in Kelvin (K), a level of 3000K is recommended for bathroom settings as it provides a warm white. The warmer glow of 2700K can be relaxing, suitable for ambient light, whereas 4000K may be suitable for bright task lights.

Types Of Bathroom Lighting

According to function, lighting in the bathroom can be categorized into the following 4 types.

modern bathroom with LED lights

Task Lighting

Task lighting indicates the ones that are used for daily routines such as shaving, applying makeup, and other personal grooming tasks. It focuses light where you need it most, ensuring that those areas are well-lit and free of shadows.

Such as LED wall mirrors, magnifying makeup mirrors with front lights, overhead vanity light fixtures, and so on.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is utilized to bring attention to the architectural features and decor of a space, creating a sense of depth and dimension. The lighting often utilizes LED strips and sconces.

LED Strips: LED strips are often used as accent lighting, providing indirect light that creates stylish and efficient layers of light. You can install these strips under a bathroom vanity or along the edges of the ceiling to produce a subtle, ambient glow. LED strips are highly versatile, as they can be cut to fit various lengths, and some come with adhesive backing for easy installation.

Sconces: Wall sconces are another popular form of accent lighting. Place them on either side of your bathroom mirror to provide balanced, directional light. This not only aids in tasks like shaving or makeup application but also serves to draw attention to the mirror itself.

Decorative Lighting

decorative lighting in bathroom

Decorative lighting is used to help showcase the design style of your bathroom. For instance, if your bathroom is themed with blue color, you may want to use luminaries that come with blue style design to keep the style consistent with the rest of the bathroom. Similarly, if your bathroom has a magenta theme, you can use pink lights to complement the overall design.

Modern LED lighting allows for easy color and CCT adjustment, making it simple to cater to match the overall design.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting serves as the foundation for your bathroom’s illumination. It is crucial for achieving even illumination that provides a comfortable level of brightness throughout the space. Instead of focusing the light in a single area, ambient light ensures that light is cast evenly, offering a welcoming diffused glow to your entire bathroom, those lighting are usually known as flush mount ceiling lights, recessed downlights, and so on.

How Many Lumens per Square Meter Are Needed in the Bathroom?

Lumens measure the total amount of visible light emitted by a source and are critical in achieving the desired illumination in a bathroom. The brightness needs for a bathroom can vary based on the area size and specific lighting requirements of different zones within the space.

Here’s a guideline for various sizes of bathrooms:

  • Small Bathrooms (<5 sq. m): Approximately 70-80 lumens per square foot, translating to roughly 750-860 lumens per square meter.
  • Medium Bathrooms (5-10 sq. m): Maintain the 70-80 lumens per square foot range, ensuring consistent illumination as square footage increases.
  • Large Bathrooms (>10 sq. m): The rule stays consistent, but lighting arrangements might need diversification, like having multiple light sources.

Consider the following zones with their respective lumens requirements:

  • Vanity Area: Aim for higher luminance to facilitate grooming, equating to about 540-810 lumens per square meter (50-75 lumens per square foot).
  • Shower Area: A softer lighting is often sufficient, about 270-540 lumens per square meter (25-50 lumens per square foot).

Advantages Of LED Lighting For Bathroom

LED lighting for bathroom

LED bathroom lights are renowned for their energy efficiency. LED bulbs and fixtures consume significantly less power than traditional incandescent or halogen lights, which means that over time, they can save you a considerable amount on your energy bills.

Cost Efficiency

LEDs also boast cost efficiency due to their long lifespan. Typically, LED bulbs can last between 15,000 to 50,000 hours, reducing the need for frequent replacements. This longevity can offset the initial higher purchase price, making them a financially wise choice in the long run.

Efficiency

Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, LEDs operate at a substantially higher efficiency level. Here’s a breakdown:

Bulb TypeEnergy Used
LED6-8 watts
Incandescent60 watts
Compact Fluorescent (CFL)13-15 watts

LEDs use about 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and about 50% less than CFLs, translating directly into savings on your electricity bills. For you, this means lighting your bathroom using LED technology could decrease the portion of energy attributed to lighting in your electricity bills significantly.

Since bathrooms are frequently used spaces, the choice of lighting becomes even more critical. If you’re using a 60-watt incandescent bulb, switching to an LED equivalent would slash energy usage to roughly 6-8 watts without sacrificing brightness. This is because LEDs are designed to provide the same level of luminescence using less power.

Non-Toxic

LED lights stand out as they do not contain mercury, a toxic element found in some types of traditional fluorescent bulbs. Mercury can pose significant health risks, and its usage in lighting presents a concern, particularly when such bulbs are disposed of and potentially enter the environment.

LED lights, on the other hand, are a safer and more eco-friendly option. They contribute less to pollution and reduce hazardous waste. 

Fewer Need To Be Produced

LED bulbs have an impressive lifespan, greatly exceeding that of traditional incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. This durability means that LEDs require replacement far less often.

Long Lifespan

Typically, you can expect an LED bulb to serve you well for about 25,000 to 50,000 hours. To put this into perspective, here’s a comparison with other lighting types:

Lighting TypeAverage Lifespan (hours)
LED25,000 – 50,000
Incandescent1,000
Halogen2,000 – 4,000
CFL8,000 – 15,000

Less Prone To Overheating

LEDs operate at a lower temperature compared to traditional incandescent bulbs.

Furthermore, They are designed to disperse heat effectively, which reduces the risk of overheating and fire hazards. 

Better Design Flexibility

LED strip lights offer you an innovative approach to bathroom lighting design, for example, LED strips can be cut into any length to fit specific areas, making them a tailor-made solution for highlighting bathroom features or providing accent lighting.

Benefits of Using LED Strip Lights:

  • Customizable Shapes: LED strip lights can be cut to length and even connected for extended runs, allowing you to tailor the lighting to fit even the most intricate spaces.
  • Color Variations: You can choose from a wide spectrum of colors to set the desired mood or match your existing décor.
  • Dimming Capabilities: Adjust brightness levels to create the perfect ambiance, whether you need bright light for utility or a softer glow for relaxation.

Safety Is Optimized With LED Lights

LED lights emit significantly less heat compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, reducing the risk of burns or accidents. This feature is particularly important in a confined space such as a bathroom, where fixtures are often within reach.

LEDs also operate effectively at lower voltages, often as low as 12V or 24V, which significantly diminishes the risk of electrical hazards, especially important in environments with high moisture.

Color Options Are Endless

led light color temperature

When incorporating LED lighting into your bathroom, you have a broad spectrum of color temperatures to choose from, allowing you to tailor the lighting to your specific needs and design preferences. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins (K), which dictates the hue and tone of light from warm to cool.

Warm Light: Ranging from 2700K to 3000K, warm light provides your bathroom with a cozy and inviting atmosphere, reminiscent of traditional incandescent bulbs. It’s ideal for creating a relaxing environment, perfect for unwinding during evening routines.

  • 2700K: A soft, warm light often used for a subtle, calming glow.
  • 3000K: A slightly crisper warm light that maintains a comfortable ambiance.

The higher the Kelvin number, the cooler the light becomes. As you climb the scale:

  • Neutral White: Between 3100K and 4500K, this range is excellent for tasks as it offers clear illumination without being too harsh.
  • Cool White: At 4600K to 6500K, the light is bright and invigorating, ideal for grooming tasks where precision is key, like applying makeup or shaving.

Ideal Colour Temperature Of Bathroom Lights

The color temperature of lighting, also known as Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT), dramatically affects the ambiance of your bathroom.

For a cozy, welcoming atmosphere, LED lights with a CCT ranging between 2700K and 3000K are recommended. These temperatures provide a soft, yellowish hue, resembling warm, incandescent lighting—ideal for guest bathrooms or when you want to relax in a bath.

When it comes to task lighting, which is essential for activities like applying makeup or shaving, opt for brighter lights. Bright task lights with a CCT between 3500K and 4000K give off a whiter light, which closely mimics natural daylight and offers clarity without being harsh.

  • Ambient Lighting: 2700K – 3000K (Warm, yellowish glow)
  • Task Lighting: 3500K – 4000K (Bright, natural light)

New CCT changeable LED lights can adjust to different color temperatures as per your need, blending from warm to cool light, which means you can customize your bathroom experience at different times of the day.

Tips for Choose CCT in Design:

  • Traditional & Elegant: Go for a lower CCT to enhance the classic look with warmer tones.

Modern & Sleek: Choose a higher CCT for a sharper, contemporary feel with cooler tones.

Where is LED Lighting Generally Used?

Bathroom Mirrors: Bathroom mirrors can have LED strip lights integrated into them to provide task lighting for daily makeup routines. They can also come with a backlight for indirect lighting that serves as decoration. Additionally, night lights can be incorporated under the mirrors for special purposes, such as lighting up the sink area at night.

Mirrored Cabinet: LED strip lights are highly versatile and can be used in a variety of settings, including bathroom mirror cabinets. These lights can be installed in front of the mirror door to help you during your daily routine, or inside the cabinet to illuminate the contents when you open it, making it easier for you to find what you need quickly and conveniently.

Ceiling Lights: Ceiling lights are important for providing ambient lighting in the bathroom. Recessed downlights or flush-mount ceiling lights are commonly used in this area.

Wall Lights: Installing vanity lights on either side of mirrors and overhead task lights above mirrors is a good idea in bathrooms.Shower: The shower area needs soft, cozy, ambient lighting for proper illumination.

Dimmer Switches With LED Lights

Dimmer switches are an excellent way to adjust the brightness of your bathroom lights, creating the perfect ambiance for your mood. This is particularly beneficial during late-night visits to the bathroom or when creating a relaxing atmosphere for a bath. However, it’s crucial to ensure that you use appropriate dimmer switches that are compatible with dimmable LED lights. You should make sure that the dimmer switch and the LED light are compatible in function to ensure that they work correctly. 

Make sure your installation is following the manufacturer’s instructions for wiring connections.

Benefits

  • Control brightness without turning lights off.
  • Adjust lighting for different times of the day or activities.
  • Reduce energy consumption by using only the necessary amount of light.

LED Lighted Mirrors Are Becoming Staple Bathroom Fixtures

LED lighted mirror in bathroom

The integration of LED lights with bathroom mirrors is a trend solidifying its place in modern home decor. LED lighted bathroom mirrors offer a blend of functionality and style, making them essential for your bathroom. 

Here are key advantages to consider:

  • Energy Efficiency: LED lights consume up to 75% less energy compared to traditional incandescent bulbs and have a lifespan of around 50,000 hours.
  • Consistent Lighting: Unlike overhead lighting, the illumination from LED mirrors provides a uniform light that minimizes shadows, offering you a clear reflection without glare.
  • With high CRI of LED lighted mirrors, you see your reflection as others see you in natural light, which is ideal for personal grooming tasks.
  • Such mirrors often come with additional features like defogging, and shaving sockets, enhancing their utility.

Consider the following as you choose your bathroom mirror:

  1. Size and Shape: Choose bathroom mirror size that fits the dimensions of your space and complements your bathroom’s design.
  2. Brightness: Ensure the LED lights are bright enough for your needs but not overly harsh.
  3. Features: Look for useful features such as dimming capabilities or built-in defoggers.

Pay Attention To The IP Rating

IP Rating Ingress Protection

The bathroom is a space with high humidity and moisture levels. When selecting LED lights for your bathroom, it is important to consider their waterproof quality. The IP (Ingress Protection) rating of the lights indicates their level of protection against the ingress of solid particles and liquids. An IP rating comprises two numbers. The first digit indicates the protection level against solids, such as dust, which has levels from 1 to 6; and the second digit signifies the level of protection against liquids, such as water, which has levels from 1 to 9

For example, we usually use IP45 LED strip lights in bathroom mirrors. The first digit, which is 4, shows that it has a dustproof grade of level 4. The second digit, which is 5, shows that it has a waterproof grade of level 5. So the most heavy protection is IP69, lamps with the IP69 mark can be used underwater forever.

Refer to the following image to see the details of each level

Bathroom Zones

bathroom zones illustration

When planning your bathroom lighting, it’s crucial to understand the IEE Wiring Regulations that define bathroom zones. These zones help ensure safety where electricity and water could potentially come into contact.

Zone 0: Surrounds any area inside the bath or shower itself. Fixtures here must be low voltage (max 12V) and be rated at least IP67 for immersion protection. LED strips can be used, but ensure they meet these stringent requirements.

Zone 1: Extends above the bath or shower up to a height of 2.25m from the floor. In this zone, a minimum rating of IP45 is necessary, though more protection is often recommended. This zone can often be fitted with recessed lighting fixtures.

Zone 2: Covers the area stretching 0.6m outside the perimeter of the bath and to a height of 2.25m from the floor. Additionally, it includes the space around the sink, within a 60cm radius of any tap. An IP rating of at least IP44 is required here to protect against splashes.

Zone 3: While not officially recognized by the latest IEE Wiring Regulations, historically, this would refer to any area outside zones 0, 1, and 2, where no water jet is likely to be used. Generally, there are no IP rating requirements here, but caution and common sense should still be applied.

UL Listed For Locations Ratings

It is crucial to understand UL ratings for ensuring safety and compliance with building codes. This also applies to LED lights in bathrooms. UL is an acronym for Underwriters Laboratories, which provides safety certifications for products.

Types of UL Listings:

  • Dry Locations: These are areas where the light fixtures will not be exposed to any moisture. They are suitable for parts of your home that stay dry at all times.
  • Damp Locations: If a fixture is rated for damp locations, it means it can handle some moisture but cannot come into direct contact with water. This type of lighting is ideal for areas that may be subject to steam or condensation.
  • Wet Locations: Fixtures that are UL listed for wet locations are designed to withstand direct exposure to water. These are suitable for areas directly in contact with water.

Appropriate Uses for Each Rating:

  • Dry Locations Rating: Ideal for areas never exposed to moisture like living rooms.
  • Damp Locations Rating: Perfect for bathroom areas that may experience steam or mildew but do not have direct water exposure.
  • Wet Locations Rating: Essential for shower areas or outdoor spaces where the fixtures may directly come into contact with water.

Lighting Mistakes To Avoid In Your Bathroom

Steering clear of these pitfalls when styling your bathroom, Here are some common lighting mistakes to avoid:

  • Overlooking Dimmers: Install dimmer switches to adjust light intensity to suit different moods and times of day.
  • Ignoring CRI: The Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures how true colors appear under the light. Opt for LEDs with a CRI of 80 or higher for more accurate color representation.
  • Uneven Illumination: Ensure your lighting scheme provides even coverage. Use a combination of overhead and task lighting to minimize shadows and glare.
  • Too Much Glare: Use frosted or opal diffusers on fixtures to soften light and reduce glare, which is especially important for mirrors.
  • Neglecting Task Lighting: Incorporate dedicated lighting near the mirror to prevent shadows for activities like applying makeup or shaving.
  • Forgetting Accent Lighting: To enhance the bathroom’s design, include accent lighting to highlight artwork or architectural features.
  • Not Planning for Moisture: Use fixtures rated for damp or wet locations to ensure longevity and safety in the high-humidity bathroom environment.

Tips For Lighting Different Types Of Bathrooms

Bathroom designs vary in style; read on for tips on designing different types of bathrooms.

Traditional Style

  • Layer the Lighting: Use a combination of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create a warm and inviting space. A central ceiling fixture or chandelier can provide ambient light, while sconces on either side of the mirror offer task lighting for grooming.
  • Use Dimmers: Installing dimmer switches allows you to adjust the lighting to suit different moods and times of day.
  • Choose Classic Fixtures: Opt for lighting fixtures that complement the traditional style, such as those with antique finishes or classic designs.
  • Soft White Bulbs: Use bulbs that emit a soft, warm light to enhance the cozy feel of a traditional bathroom.

Contemporary Style

  • Go for Clean Lines: Choose fixtures with sleek, modern designs and minimal ornamentation. LED strip lights or recessed lighting can give a contemporary look.
  • Cool White Light: Contemporary designs often benefit from cooler lighting, which can make the space feel crisp and clean.
  • Backlit Mirrors: A mirror with integrated lighting or backlit effects can serve as a focal point and provide even illumination for tasks.
  • Pendant Lights: Consider using pendant lights for a stylish and modern touch, especially over a freestanding bathtub or vanity.

Functional/Family Style

  • Safety First: Ensure all fixtures are safe for use in wet areas and that switches are out of reach for small children or are equipped with safety covers.
  • Bright and Functional: Use bright overhead lighting to keep the space well-lit for children’s bath times and busy morning routines.
  • Night Lights: Incorporate night lights or lower-intensity lighting for those late-night bathroom trips.
  • Colorful Elements: Consider using light fixtures with colorful accents or shades to add a playful touch that can be appealing to children.

Wet Room Style

  • Waterproof Fixtures: Since wet rooms are designed to get completely wet, use IP-rated fixtures suitable for zones 0, 1, and 2 to ensure safety against water ingress.
  • Recessed Downlights: Utilize recessed downlights to create a clean, uncluttered look that complements the open and airy design typical of wet rooms. Ensure these are also waterproof and suitable for use in wet areas.
  • Task Lighting: If the wet room includes a vanity area, ensure there is adequate task lighting, such as a waterproof wall-mounted fixture at the mirror to provide clear illumination for grooming tasks.
  • Accent Lighting: Consider adding accent lighting to highlight architectural features or to create a relaxing ambiance. This could include waterproof LED strips around the base of the shower area or beneath a floating vanity.
  • Uniform Light Distribution: Aim for a uniform light distribution to avoid shadows and dark spots, which is particularly important in a wet room where surfaces can be slippery when wet.
Picture of Author: James

Author: James

This is James, I have been working in Okay Mirror as sales and marketing director for more than 10 years. Knowledgable in LED lighting and mirror technology, experienced in kinds of projects for residential, commercial, and hospitality industry.

Picture of Author: James

Author: James

This is James, I have been working in Okay Mirror as sales and marketing director for more than 10 years. Knowledgable in LED lighting and mirror technology, experienced in kinds of projects for residential, commercial, and hospitality industry.

Table of Contents

Get Quotation Today

Send us your requirements, we will get back to you within 12 hours