In my experience, bathrooms aren’t terribly well lit and so for this review we have chosen some luminaires that add a little bit extra to their appearance and function.
First of all, you have to get the basics right and that means a decent level of illumination, particularly on people’s faces for applying makeup or shaving. Lights around a mirror or integrated into its frame are always a good solution for this. Don’t make the mistake of placing a mirror opposite a window. Unless it is dark outside, your face will almost be in silhouette no matter how strong the lighting.
It goes without saying that the light source should have good colour rendering.
General illumination for the bathroom can be provided by recessed or surface downlights but you should use wide angle ones, at least 35 degrees, in order to illuminate the walls and inside cabinets properly. A more attractive solution than a downlight is a luminaire with a diffuser or prisms that emits light all around. If you want to splash out (pun intended), you can even buy IP rated chandeliers for bathrooms.
The bathroom is an ideal location for lighting based on your circadian rhythms. Plenty of stimulating Cool light when you first wake up and then Warm, low-level illumination in the evening. I’m surprised is isn’t done more often because early morning and evening are key trigger times.
When it comes to decorative lighting, the possibilities are almost endless. Lights in the floor are popular but make sure they are low wattage and stay cool. The soles of your feet are particularly sensitive to heat.
Fibre optics are always useful because the actual light source in the room is inert and has no voltage or heat connected with it. I once put fibre optics in a shower head so that the streaming droplets of water lit up when you switched it on.
If you are the sort of person who puts candles around the bath, linear colour changing LEDs can alter the mood and atmosphere of the bathroom at the flick of a switch. Low voltage wall panels or smart phone apps are readily available for this type of application.
Of course, water and electricity do not mix and there are strict regulations concerning what type of lighting and electrical equipment can be used in a bathroom. In the UK, these regulations are found in BS 7671 and are based on the concept of zones above and around the wet areas. In very simple terms, this means you can only use 12V equipment above a shower or bath. Elsewhere, the fittings must be IP44 or more. You should always use a suitably qualified person to install electrical equipment in your bathroom. A brief summary of the regulations is shown below (in the box below).
Finally, if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, it’s gentler on your eyes if the lighting first comes on at low light output and then ramps up to 100 per cent after a few seconds. A basic scene-set/dimmer should be able to accomplish this easily.
Astro Versaille 600
This 600 mm, surface, wall-mounted unit looks beautiful when switched on. The full-length fluted “diffuser” splits and bends the light to give an ever-changing appearance which is never glaring. The 22W, 3000K unit emits over 800 lumens so you won’t need many Versailles for your bathroom.
It is available in a polished chrome or bronze finish and would suit hospitality, commercial and residential applications.
It’s a really attractive unit and provides plenty of light.
Atrium Flos Glo Ball
This is a decorative unit containing a 25W G9 halogen lamp inside a beautifully opalised 100 mm diameter glass ball. With the warm glow emitted from the halogen light source, it looks lovely when switched on. Switched off, it looks like a water-smooth pebble. The mains cable comes out the side of the base and so the Glo Ball would sit on a shelf.
Unfortunately, it is IP40 so you would need to locate it outside the zoned areas of the bathroom.
Also, there’s not a lot of light output, so it won’t fully illuminate your bathroom, but it does look nice.
The 7W M Pro is a solidly constructed recessed downlight and chunkier than some of the others on the market. The appearance is very similar to that of a tungsten halogen downlight. A useful feature is that the MPRO has a 60 degree beam angle. This is an advantage in a bathroom because you need fewer downlights to achieve uniform lighting.
It is IP65 and suitable for fire rated ceilings.
The attraction of these luminaires is their hand-blown crystal glass. We randomly chose Model 50001 which is a round, recessed 6W unit, 71mm in diameter and has a colour rendering, CRI>90. There are plenty of other models in the range.
This model has a dropped ring of clear crystal glass which has several circular “ribs” which sparkle at the edges. There is also a small, inner frosted glass. Although it appears to be a recessed downlight, the light is emitted at high angles, much more than a conventional downlight, and would easily illuminate the walls almost to the ceiling. In fact, because the crystal glass is 10 mm deep, some light reflects upwards giving concentric halos on the ceiling.
The 3000K version emits about 270 lumens
The Rhythm can do just about everything. It is all the tech you will ever need in a bathroom.
It has a 3000K and 6000K light source so you can match it to your circadian rhythm. Cool in the morning, Warm at night. The cylindrical opal glass produces about 1,500 lumens which is bags of light; you might only need one in a bathroom. There is also an optional RGB mode with 12 colours. The Rhythm is also dimmable and all these functions can be controlled from a remote Bluetooth™ controller.
The Rhythm also has a 6W loudspeaker so you can link it to your smart phone to play your favourite music.
John Cullen Grissini
This is an elegant pendant unit with a clear and frosted glass diffuser. The outer cylinder is clear glass 260 mm high and 65 mm diameter and the inner frosted one is slightly shorter.
Originally designed for a 40W halogen lamp, the Grissini can be fitted with a G9 LED retrofit lamp. (We reviewed G9 lamps in June 2017 so you can decide which one to use).
Although the opalizing is quite dense and produces a soft gradation of brightness from top to bottom, the actual light source is still quite bright. However, I must admit that the warm glow of the halogen lamp produces a really lovely effect.
Trilux Acuro Activ
The Acuro has classically simple lines. It comprises a rectangular surface mounted luminaire body made of powder coated aluminium. Attached to this a very finely textured, PMMA, opal diffuser giving an IP44 rating. The build quality means that the diffuser and luminaire body have wafer thin crisp lines and the joint between the two is almost invisible.
This diffuser emits the light in a broad beam in all directions and the 600 mm, 8W unit emits 1,000 lumens.
What sets the Acuro apart from many other luminaires is that you can change the colour temperature from 2700K to 6500K via a DALI controller.
We couldn’t review bathroom lighting without including a floor mounted uplight. Tryka is known for its professional range of outdoor LED lighting and the Elektra is a well-made, quality product.
The Elektra is 41 mm in diameter and contains a single 1.2W LED with a typical output of 80 lumens. You can have a choice of white LEDs from 2200K to 6000K. Coloured LEDs are also available. The body is anodised aluminium, which can also have a variety of metallic paint finishes. There a fine-textured pmma opal diffuser.
The Elektra is IP67 so, even mounted on the floor, it won’t let in any water. The driver has to be remote but it will feed several uplights and it is dimmable.
- See the latest bathroom lights at the LuxLive 2019 exhibition. The show takes place at ExCeL London on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019. Entry is free if you pre-register. For more info, click HERE