Lighting Research Center

Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment

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Bathroom lighting should be bright, uniform and shadow-free, while minimizing glare. Good lighting is important for shaving, grooming, applying make up, showering, and reading fine print on prescription bottles. Faces lighted from all sides have few shadows. Skin tones and hair color appear better with light sources that offer high light levels and good color rendering.

Design features:

  • A wall-mounted 4-ft long vanity light with an opaque front, open top aperture, and acrylic lenses on the bottom aperture extends over the lavatory and toilet. The luminaire bounces light off the ceiling, white countertop, and light-colored walls so all sides of the face are lighted at the mirror. People can also read easily while seated on the toilet. This valance luminaire uses two 32-W/830 T8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts. For smaller bathrooms, select a 2-ft long vanity light with two 17-W/830 T8 fluorescent lamps. An alternative to the valance is to use luminaires on both sides of the mirror, if there is sufficient room.
  • A wet-location-rated downlight recessed in the ceiling above the tub, using a 52-W halogen lamp, adds light to the shower area and is switched separately from the valance light. When high light levels are uncomfortable in the middle of the night, the shower light alone can be switched on, providing a more comfortable light level.

Lighting Tips
  • In the bathroom, use a wet-location-rated shower light for good visibility.
  • Luminaires that are not wet-location-rated should be mounted at least 3 ft away from the bathtub or shower.
  • Choose a matte countertop vanity surface with light colors to reflect light to the underside of your chin.

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