A Complete Guide to Bathroom Lighting


Author: Sarah Nunn


5th June 2020


Choosing the right lighting for your bathroom is a very important task, but it can seem overwhelming at first. When designing a new bathroom, people often get caught up choosing their exciting new taps and tiles, and they end up settling for boring old lighting options that don’t properly fit their needs.

Because the bathroom is one of the most-used rooms in the home, we believe the lighting should be given just as much – if not more – attention than we give it in the rest of the house.

We all use the bathroom multiple times a day, for a variety of different reasons – from getting ready in the morning, to unwinding at the end of a long day. For a space with such high traffic and specific requirements, we think it’s essential that you choose the right lighting to support these activities – while still creating a beautiful room.

We’ve put together this extensive guide to bathroom lighting, with the goal of helping you design your perfect space. With a little help from us, you can see how simple but effective it can be to create a tranquil bathroom space that is fully equipped for all your needs.

Consider the bigger picture

Downlights for the BathroomDownlights for the Bathroom


The first thing you need to do is take a step back and look at the overall bathroom. Is this going to be a complete renovation, or just a minor update? Are you using previously installed fittings, or re-doing it entirely?

If you are renovating your bathroom, we highly recommend building your lighting choices into the overall design from the start, so you know exactly how it’s going to look and there won’t be any surprises. Don’t leave it until the end to think about what lighting you’ll need, as it might be too late to consider any electrical work that needs doing.

You’ll also want to consider the size of the room, and any natural light that you’re working with. We think the best way to fully utilise your bathroom space is to layer different types of lighting together, ensuring a harmonious lighting scheme for even the smallest of bathrooms.

So however big or small your project is, it’s a good idea to take some measurements and think about the room as a whole before you start.   

Try to think about the smaller details as well. Do you want the metalwork to match your taps? Would a black fitting work better than chrome? Tying your lighting in with the rest of the bathroom accessories is a great way to make sure it all works seamlessly together and nothing looks out of place.

Use different types of bathroom lighting


People have a tendency to leave bathroom lighting as a bit of an after-thought. They often end up with the cheapest or most basic option and regret it later down the line.

There are so many different types of bathroom lighting that you should be considering for your space – and they all have different parts to play. Why settle for just the basic option when there is such a great range of alternatives?

When choosing your bathroom lighting, it’s important to keep in mind that every bathroom requires lighting for two different functions – providing task lighting and creating ambience.

Task lighting helps you to complete your daily routine. From brushing your teeth to applying your make-up, you’ll need suitable lighting so you can properly see what you’re doing. Ambient lighting helps you to create the right atmosphere. From waking up in the morning to relaxing in the bath tub, the right lighting should have the ability to work with your mood.

We’ve outlined a few of the different options you can find here at Online Lighting, to give you an idea of what might work best for your bathroom.

Ceiling Lights

Bathroom ceiling lights are a good option for ensuring there is enough bright light in the room to assist with all of the intricate grooming tasks that take place there.

When selecting ceiling lights for the bathroom, you want to consider safety first – it’s important that moisture or steam can’t penetrate the fitting you choose so make sure that it’s designed specifically for use in a bathroom.

Flush or semi-flush style ceiling lights can work well with lower ceilings, while the enclosed shape is designed for areas prone to moisture. Spotlights are another choice for delivering a contemporary look, with added flexibility and adjustability.


Bathroom downlights, also sometimes referred to as spotlights, are a very popular choice for bathrooms and en-suites – as they can deliver a modern and minimalistic look. They look neat and tidy, while an even spread of downlights across the ceiling can still provide bright, precise lighting throughout the space.

Save some money in the long run by choosing LED bathroom downlights as a cost-effective solution. Typically, they use far less energy than their halogen or incandescent alternatives and they last much longer – so it could be years before a bulb will need to be changed.

Wall Lights

Bathroom wall lights are a good option for brightening up a space that can easily be forgotten when it comes to lighting. They can be both functional and decorative, depending on the type you go for. Placed either side of a mirror, a stylish pair of wall lights could help create a useful vanity station – ideal for doing your hair or make-up.

Remember – never underestimate the importance of different light levels in the bathroom, especially if this is a place to wind down and relax as well as get ready for the day ahead. Warm bulbs in your wall lights will ensure an ambient glow that will work well for those long relaxing baths.

Mirror Lights

If the ceiling lights in your bathroom aren’t providing enough task lighting, a quick solution is to add a bathroom mirror light. This could mean adding a light above or either side of the mirror or installing an illuminated vanity mirror.

A magnifying mirror with a light can provide another level of precision to your grooming, shaving or make-up application station. Many mirror light options are battery operated as well, so they’re easy to install.

Mirror Cabinets

Bathroom mirror cabinets are a multi-purpose addition to the bathroom. They can provide lighting while also offering an extra storage solution.

Many mirror cabinets come with handy functions – such as hidden USB charging ports, movement sensors, demister pads to avoid steaming up, internal lighting, adjustable shelves and bright precise lighting designed specifically for grooming and shaving.

Shaver Lights

Shaver lights are an underrated yet essential bathroom accessory. Available in a range of shapes and styles to suit all budgets and tastes, this humble little light will help with intricate grooming activities such as shaving, plucking your eyebrows or applying false eyelashes.

If you choose a shaver light that uses an LED bulb, it will last significantly longer than the halogen or fluorescent alternative would, while using minimal energy.


A popular choice, spotlights can be a minimalistic and effective way to light your bathroom. If you choose spotlights with integrated LEDs, you will use a lot less energy than standard halogen spotlights and therefore they should be very inexpensive to run.

Plate or bar mounted bathroom spotlights offer the flexibility to create directional lighting. This enables you to illuminate darker areas without installing additional lights. Adding a dimmer will help to maximise the space, turning it into a relaxing haven when you need to wind down.

Choose the right lightbulbs for the job


Choosing the new lighting fixtures is just the first step towards a perfectly lit bathroom. The second – and arguably most important – step is choosing the right lightbulbs.

Lightbulbs come in all shapes, sizes, wattages and temperatures. Whether it’s task lighting or ambient lighting – choosing the right bulb is so important to ensure the lights are working hard and doing their job. 

The fresh and clear glow of a cool white lightbulb makes everything a little brighter and more focused. This makes it a popular choice for your bathroom task lighting, as it allows you to see yourself clearly in the mirror when doing your hair or shaving. The cooler colour temperature can also help us stay alert, so it could help to perk you up in the morning while you’re brushing your teeth.

A warmer light bulb invites relaxation into your bathroom, so they are ideal for creating the tranquil ambience required at the end of a long day. For your wall lights or ceiling lights, you might decide to opt for a warm white bulb to help you wind down.

If you’re working with a bathroom that doesn’t have a window, you may want to consider using daylight bulbs to mimic the natural light emitted from the sun. They can help to inject a little more brightness into your bathroom, helping to boost your energy and your mood in the mornings.

We suggest using a combination of different lightbulbs to get a good balance across your bathroom.

Colour TemperatureColour Temperature

Understand your lighting zones


Once you’ve got an idea of the different task and ambient lighting you’d like for your bathroom, you need to make sure that the fittings you’re looking at can be installed exactly where you’d like them.

All light fittings have an IP Rating which determines where a light can be installed in your home. This isn’t usually an issue in the other rooms in the house, but as the bathroom is an inherently wet room, it can be a dangerous place for electricals.

2nd Digit










Protection Against Liquids

Not protected

Protected against water greater than 50mm (drip proof)

Protected against dripping water when tilted up to 15°

Protected against spraying water (rain proof)

Protected against splashing water (splash proof)

Protected against water jets from any direction (jet proof)

Protected against heavy seas

Protected against the effects of immersion between 15cm and 1m

Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure

Bathrooms are split into four zones, with each zone requiring certain levels of IP Rating for any light fixtures. The IP Ratings refer to the level of protection from liquids built into the light fixtures, informing us how safe they are for use in a bathroom. Generally speaking, the lower the IP Rating – the less protection it has from liquids.

Here’s a brief rundown of the different zones:


Zone 0

This zone is in the bath itself. Any light fittings in the bath need to be low voltage and have an IP Rating of at least IPx7.

Zone 1

This zone includes the area around the bath or shower – up to a height of 2,250mm from the floor, with a radius of 1,200mm. Fittings in Zone 1 require a minimum IP Rating of IPx4. Fittings in a shower cubicle require a minimum IP Rating of IPx5.

Zone 2

This covers the area stretching 600mm outside the perimeter of the bath or shower – up to a height of 2,250mm from the floor. The area around a sink within a radius of 600mm from the tap should also be treated as Zone 2. All fittings in Zone 2 require a minimum IP Rating of IPx4.

Zone 3

This zone covers anything outside of Zones 0,1 or 2. No specific IP Rating is required for Zone 3. However, if water jets are used for cleaning in any of the zones, then an IP Rating of at least IPx5 is required.

Bear in mind that this is not an extensive guide to lighting zones, but hopefully it offers a little insight into how it all works. We highly recommend that you seek advice from a qualified electrician before installing any lighting in a bathroom.

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when choosing your bathroom lighting. However, if you take some time to really consider what would work well in your home, then we guarantee it will be worth the little extra effort to have a perfectly lit bathroom that’s fully equipped to suit your needs.

We hope you’ve found this article helpful, and have learned a little more about the different lighting options for your bathroom. By branching out and considering different types of lighting, you’ll be able to create a bathroom that allows you to concentrate and focus when you need to, and relax and unwind when you want to.

For more information about all the bathroom lighting available at Online Lighting, take a look at our website. 

Sarah Nunn

I’m Sarah, a writer and content creator with a big passion for interior design. Having recently bought my first home, the world of renovations and home décor has taken over my life in a way I never imagined. My house is full of mid-century furniture and colourful eccentricities – but my fascination with new season trends spans from Scandi minimalism to Art Deco extravagance.