What LED light to use in a bathroom?

Susan Fernandez January 01 2022

LED lights in bathrooms are usually used to emphasize the color of tiles or under cabinets and wall art. Because they emit light that is closer to natural sunlight than fluorescent lighting, they are sometimes preferred for bathrooms that tend to look drab when lit with other types of bulbs.

Why should you use LED light and not any other type of lighting?

LED light provides a number of very distinct advantages over other types of lighting, such as they are low in heat emissions so they do not contribute to high levels of humidity; they can produce very bright and highly controllable light, and typically have a longer life than other sources.

Varieties of LED lights for bathrooms

There are many varieties of LED lighting available, but some of the most suitable for use in bathrooms include LEDs with integral infrared (IR) emitters; IR sensor switches; and motion sensors.

Before purchasing any type of LED light for a bathroom, however, always think about what you want to use it for and bear in mind where it will be placed in the room. For example, a reflective surface could produce a glare when used near a mirror or window dressing. Also, remember how much energy your new LED light will require to run compared to whatever else you have been using up until now.

The fact that installation is so simple means there is no reason not to install them yourself rather than hiring an electrician. However, each light fitting will have a voltage and amp requirement that should be taken into consideration.

One final word of warning is to make sure the LED lights you purchase are suitable for use in bathrooms. Many types of lighting can be used safely in other areas, but may not perform as well as intended if installed as a bathroom light.

How much does it cost?

To create DIY lighting for your bathroom, consider purchasing a strip of LED lights from Amazon.com. These typically have an adhesive backing and can be cut to fit any shape or size of space. You can also opt for a lighting kit with a remote control so that a single touch turns on all of the designated bulbs simultaneously. However, this typically costs more than purchasing separate LED lights yourself.

Dry rated and wet rated LED - what is the difference?

Dry rated means the fixture is in direct contact with insulation. This means it's NOT recommended to be in a wet location. Best for bathrooms are LED fixtures with a "Wet Location" rating since they are designed to be installed under a cabinet, but still, have good performance even in a wet environment.

But how does dry and wet LED light work? Dry rated LED lights work in the same way as power LED's (for example, like 100W HPS), they use a heat sink to remove the heat from the surface. As for "wet location" or "damp location" rated LED lights, they are basically designed to be installed under-cabinet or shower with good performance even when it is wet.

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Dry Rated - Not recommended for use in any wet locations or behind glass that would allow water vapor to get on the bulb.

Wet Rated - Designed specifically for installation in shower areas, directly exposed to moisture without being behind enclosures which can trap moisture/condensation caused by hot steam.

What will happen if you use dry rated LED light in your bathroom?

If you use LED light that is not rated as "wet location" or "damp location", then it will shorten the life expectancy and the bulb might overheat and cause a fire. Always make sure your product is suitable for its intended use (ENEC, UL, CSA, RoHS approved).

What place in a bathroom is the dampest?

The place in a bathroom that is the dampest is near the showerhead, or anywhere close to a sink. That is why it is recommended to use LED light fixtures with a "wet location" rating.

What should you keep in mind?

However, this appealing quality also means that LED bathroom lights can be harsh on the eyes if not properly diffused or shielded when used close-up. When choosing LED lights for a bathroom, consider these factors:

  1. Indirect vs direct light - An indirect source would not directly illuminate reflective surfaces like a tile; it would instead provide general lighting inside the room, eliminating shadows without causing glare off shiny surfaces. A direct (pointed) light source would cast shadows that would highlight the texture and color of surfaces like granite, marble, or tile.
  2. Spot/flood - Whether you want to use LED lights for spotlighting (a single tile) or broader coverage (an entire wall). Most bathrooms require a combination of both types of lighting. Also, consider the penetration depth needed; some LED bulbs may not reach very far beyond their direct point of focus.
  3. Quality vs price - You'll likely pay more for higher quality lights, but they should last much longer without replacement. Further, high-quality lights will cast better light and eliminate hotspots (areas where the bulb emits particularly intense heat). For instance, in most bathrooms, it is best to avoid 3-watt LEDs because heat buildup can be excessive and too bright.
  4. Color temperature - The color of light is measured as a temperature on the Kelvin (K) scale; 2700K or 3000K lights are usually closest to warm, yellowish incandescent bulbs, which appear nowhere near as harsh as 6500K "daylight" LEDs.

What are the best LED bathroom lighting fixtures?

Lightolier Bath Ambience Round LED Clip-On 12V - This is an outstanding clip light that can be attached to cabinets or under-cabinet areas for indirect task lighting through diffused lenses. The modest price reflects its simple construction but it comes with excellent reviews for durability. An added benefit of the round shape is the optional use of color filters to provide an accent glow on walls or tiles.

Lithonia Lighting Round LED Downlight - This is a basic recessed light that can be installed just like any other downlight box without the need for additional mounting hardware. It features LED lights with a color temperature of 3000 K for soft, warm illumination and its construction is very durable (rated at damp locations). The installation may vary depending on your bathroom setup but this low-price fixture might be worth the effort.

Lithonia Lighting Recessed Square Trim Fixture - Recessed lighting fixtures are almost always fully compatible with existing housing units; all you'll need to do is buy new trim kits (like this one) which will allow you to replace your old lighting fixtures with LED bulbs. You can then use these same trim kits with the new LED housing and your bathroom will look like new!

Lithonia Lighting Trim for 1 or 2 Recessed Troffer Lights - If you're looking to replace an entire lighting system, this kit is a great bargain because it includes everything needed for a quick and easy upgrade: two complete fixtures with lenses, as well as the installation hardware (trim rings and housings).

Lithonia Lighting Semi Flush Mount Fixture - This semi-flush mount has several uses indoors; it can be used as an accent light similar to those found in canopy beds, but it may also be used as a task lighting inside cabinets or bookshelves (similarly to pendant fixtures). If you want to install it under a cabinet, the good news is that this fixture comes with additional hardware allowing easy installation directly to joists.

Lithonia Lighting Square Ceiling Fixture - This may be one of the most convenient and least expensive options for new LED lighting in your bathroom if the room's ceiling height allows it. The square design will create a uniform glow above whatever surface you're illuminating (like your shower wall) and its elegant frosted glass diffuser means there is no need to worry about glare or reflections on shiny surfaces like tile or granite.

What is the best color temperature for a bathroom?

The color temperature that will work best in a bathroom depends on where you plan to install it. You can choose from 2700K, 3000K, 3500K, and 4000K lights to match the ambiance you wish to create. If you plan on using your lighting as part of a relaxing, serene atmosphere then warm colors such as red or yellow will provide this effect well.

However, if you are looking for mood lighting which helps create an energy-efficient atmosphere then slightly cooler colors such as blue or white will do the trick! Also, consider installing motion sensors so they come on when someone enters the room.

What about bathroom LED light power (and voltage)?

Most often, since LEDs run at low temperatures, you can use them with a standard 12V driver in bathrooms without an issue.

Did you know that there is no maximum wattage limit when using LED lights? You also don't need to avoid bulbs that exceed the load capacity of your lamp holder (in fact, most fixtures are designed for up to 100W!).

So if you wish to install large-scale LED lighting then go ahead! Just ensure that your light fixture has sufficient ventilation around it. When used indoors in a moist environment this will help prevent corrosion resulting from condensation or humidity. As standard practice, always install motion sensors on all lights so they only come on when needed.

What LED light color to choose?

The perfect LED light color for bathroom fixtures will depend on your individual tastes and the amount of natural light available. If your room does not receive much sunlight then cool lights are best, but if you have lots of windows then warm LED lighting may create a cozy space. Also, consider how much privacy you need in your bathroom because lights with strong illumination can be very distracting!

Why do clubs and some other places use blue light in their restrooms?

Neutral light colors such as yellow or white provide a perfectly suitable illumination in the majority of restrooms, however, most club owners want their patrons to be able to see how they look and feel. As many people use club bathrooms after consuming alcohol there is a higher chance they will make a mess when using them, so it's a good idea to keep the lighting from shining directly on this type of surface at all times.

In order to achieve these safety and cleanliness objectives, some bathroom designers install LED lights that emit blue/violet tones with wavelengths between 400nm and 500nm. Such lights are also relatively inexpensive compared with conventional incandescent bulbs or fluorescent fixtures, so you'll often find them in places where maintaining high levels of hygiene is critical.

What bathroom light color is the safest?

In a bedroom or living room, most people opt for warm colors such as yellow or orange because they usually set a relaxing and even romantic mood. But in a poorly lit restroom, a blue/purple spectrum will make it easier to see facial features and other details during the day or night.

According to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), appropriate levels of illumination can help provide safety by supporting wayfinding and allowing you to judge obstacles and gaps accurately without tripping, falling, or stumbling.

In addition, proper lighting improves visibility so that others may see you from various distances while also enabling you to recognize potential hazards on the floor or elsewhere. It's also worth noting that children are particularly affected by inadequate bathroom lighting because it makes them more likely to trip and fall down, so you should always use bright LED lights in all bathrooms used by kids.

Bottom line

The appropriate level of illumination in a bathroom is usually between 10 and 20 lux. Also, avoid lights that produce glare since this will cause unpleasant reflections on smooth surfaces such as mirrors or porcelain tiles. As for the LED light color itself, neutral tones are perfectly suitable but you could also opt for warmer colors which will turn the room into an inviting space to relax in!