More Bathroom Lighting Basics

More Bathroom Lighting Basics

The bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the house. That's why bathroom lighting is so important. Without a good bathroom lighting design, it can be tough to apply makeup, hard to shave and difficult at best to take a shower. Lighting is essential for a bathroom to function efficiently. But a bathroom lighting design isn't just a few light bulbs around the mirror or an exhaust fan with a light. It requires a subtle layering of ambient, task and other sources to create an open and clean feel that suits any bathroom design theme perfectly. Use these basics to bathroom lighting to help you and your electrical contractor find the perfect solution for your bathroom lighting design.

Keep to the Task

From our first morning rituals to our getting ready for bed, the bathroom can be a busy place. Brushing your teeth, combing your hair, shaving your beard and washing your face all take place at the bathroom vanity. Vanity mirror lighting is the most essential area of the bathroom and needs the best task lighting solution possible. If you spend only enough money to buy one light fixture for the bathroom, let it be for the vanity.

Vanity lighting bars are used to accentuate the light around the mirror and focus the light source at the user, and not against the glass. This way, shadows are lessened and reflections of the bulb are diminished. The optimal light bar height above a vanity mirror is around 82 inches from the floor. Side lights that work vertical against a vanity mirror should be a minimum of 48 inches long and centered onto the mirror for optimal light coverage. All vanity bar lights should be at least five inches from the edge of the mirror to prevent reflections of the bulb back to the user.

Another great vanity task lighting solution is recessed can lights. These flush mount to the ceiling lights can be aimed directly over the vanity and provide an out of the way spotlight over your sink. The best thing about task lighting options like this is that they can be combined on multiple switches to light specific areas of the bathroom. With the addition of a dimmer switch, recessed can lighting can be a great task lighting option when it's needed most, as well as a dim light for the ultimate in bathroom nightlight design.

But recessed can lighting and other direct task lighting options aren't just for the vanity. The shower enclosure is a great place for recessed lighting options. With the right directional lighting, a shower turns into a bright and white place of cleanliness that is functional as well as fashionable. The best part about recessed lighting in the shower is that the lights are never noticed, but always needed. Some recessed shower lighting options can be installed with a heat lamp that provides a pre and post warming option, so you don't have to step in and out of a cold shower.

Combination task lighting and ventilation systems are a common and easy way to get two bathroom necessities for the price of one. From recessed lighting and ventilation combinations to a globe chandelier with variable fan speeds, a vent/light combo kit is a great way to light the areas over toilets. They serve two purposes and look good doing it, making for the perfect over-the-toilet task lighting solution.

Blending Them Together

Task lighting alone in any room creates a spotlight effect and harbors dark spots wherever task lighting doesn't reach. With the combination of an ambient light source, task lighting is softened and an ambient glow is diffused throughout the room. Ambient light sources work best when they are allowed to spread light throughout the area, without being seen. A good example of an ambient light source in the bathroom is a florescent light. Florescent lights are great for throwing light in every nook and cranny while still being out of the way and unnoticeable.

The problem with florescent lighting is that it often has a yellowy, industrial feel that makes for a boring and bland lighting design. Consider buying a ballast that uses two different florescent bulbs. This way, you can mix bulb types to create a full spectrum of light conditions that mimic natural lighting. Red spectrum and blue spectrum bulbs use different light colors to create light. When these color spectrums are mixed together in one ballast, they can create the closest feel to natural sunlight that a florescent bulb can get.

But ambient light sources don't have to be completely electrical. They can be natural as well. In fact, one of the best ways to light a bathroom can be by using a natural light. But the problem with using natural light in the bathroom is that more often than not, a window to the outside can be tough to get when the majority of bathrooms are secured and snug in the middle of the house. While a window to the outside is the best way to get an ambient light source and the perfect ventilation, it might just be impossible when there is no exterior wall to the bathroom.

This can be solved with the installation of a skylight system. Basic skylights can be as simple as a plastic bubble or as complex as an automatic opening window. Skylights can be easily installed, so long as the area above the ceiling in the bathroom is open and free from framing members, wiring or plumbing pipes. A building contractor can give you a quick heads up during an estimate that will tell you whether or not you can drop in a skylight or not.

While conventional skylights may be out of the question, natural lighting options still prevail. A solar tube skylight system uses a reflective metal tube to direct sunlight down to a translucent panel. Although the view of the sky and cloud might not be possible, direct natural sunlight can shine down over just about any area that the reflective metal tubing can be placed. That includes angles and bends that a conventional skylight system would find impossible.

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