By Jean Mathys. Bathroom Lighting. Published at Thursday, January 25th, 2018 - 13:45:31 PM.
How much light is needed in the bath? The answer depends on the person and the task they’re performing. For someone just waking up and shuffling in to the water closet, 10 footcandles (fc) might be plenty. After a shower, when it’s time to shave, 100fc is probably needed for better visibility.
The shower is a secondary area of task lighting. In smaller bathrooms, if the stall has a clear glass door, a dedicated fixture may not be necessary. Otherwise, I recommend a recessed light with a glass lens (plastic will yellow). Similar recessed fixtures work well over a freestanding tub or the toilet.
For effective bath lighting of any sort, it’s smart to pay attention to the CRI (color rendering index). A number of 100 is ideal but hard to find. Anything over 80 will allow people to see colors fairly accurately. Finally, don’t forget to specify the color temperature, expressed in degrees Kelvin (K). A 2,700K lamp is about the same warm yellow light as an incandescent bulb, and many clients prefer them. Jumping up to a 3,000K lamp makes a whiter light, still warm, that’s a good compromise. For residential use, 3,500K is about as cool a color as I’d recommend—it’s particularly good in closets, where you need accuracy for color matching when choosing clothing. Many clothing stores use 3,500K lighting for that reason.
This "fill-in" light serves as a substitute for natural light. It is most often supplied by a central fixture, usually a surface-mounted ceiling light. I encourage clients to think more creatively in their choices, suggesting they consider a pendant lamp or chandelier instead. Another option is "cove lighting" — rope lights hidden behind a molding dropped several inches below ceiling height — which adds a soft glow around the perimeter of the room.
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