Lighting Research Center

Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment

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Lighting in the bathroom should be bright, uniform and shadow-free, while minimizing glare. Good lighting is important for shaving, grooming, applying make up, climbing in and out showers, or 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 good color rendering.

Design features:

  • A wall-mounted 4-ft long vanity light with opaque front, open top aperture, and acrylic lenses on the bottom aperture is mounted 6 1/2 ft above the floor and extends over the lavatory and toilet. The fixture bounces light off the ceiling, white countertop, and wall so all sides of the face are lighted at the mirror. People can also read easily while seated on the toilet. This valance fixture uses two 32-W/830 T8 fluorescent tubes with electronic ballasts. For smaller bathrooms, use a 2-ft long vanity light with two 17-W/830 T8 fluorescent tubes. An alternative to the valance is to use fixtures on each side of the mirror, when there is sufficient room.
  • A wet-location-rated downlight recessed in the ceiling above the tub, using a 52-W halogen bulb, 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 is switched on, providing a more comfortable light level.

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

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