By Jean Mathys. Bathroom Lighting. Published at Thursday, January 25th, 2018 - 13:45:31 PM.
Downlights are perhaps the worst type to use for task lighting in the bath, although they are fine for ambient or accent lighting. Also, downlights are usually incandescent, which is the least energy-efficient form of lighting-—only 10% of the energy used by a typical incandescent bulb comes out as light, the other 90% is wasted heat.
Vertical fixtures or sconces mounted on either side of the mirror are best for casting an even light across the face. But given the size and positioning of some vanity mirrors, sidelights can be impractical (mounting them directly to the mirror is always an option, but at greater planning and cost). Only then do I suggest a fixture for over the mirror. It should be placed 75 to 80 inches above the floor and, like all vanity lighting, contain at least 150 watts — ideally spread over a fixture that's at least 24 inches long so that the light will wash evenly over the hair and face.
Another great ambient light source in baths is indirect up-lighting, usually achieved with fluorescent or LED light strips on top of cabinets or a soffit. This is particularly soft, pleasant background illumination.
In the master or guest bathrooms, use fixtures that provide at least 75 to 100 watts of illumination, says Randall Whitehead, a well-known lighting expert and author of Residential Lighting, a Practical Guide.
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