How to light your bathroom with LEDs: Advice, ideas and the best bulbs to buy

Lighting the bathroom isn’t as simple as it seems. If you want the best lighting for your bathroom, you will need to look at types of light, IP ratings and colour temperatures. In this guide, we will go through every consideration you need to make.

This guide aims to teach you the differences between task lighting, accent lighting, decorative lighting, and ambient lighting.

Understanding the different types of lighting will simplify your journey to finding the right lighting for your bathroom.

Different areas of the bathroom require a different approaches to lighting, so selecting the right type of bulb can solve multiple issues at once. As a further step, use different bulbs in tandem with each other to create complimentary lighting, as seen in a lot of kitchens.

Across the article we here at Lampshoponline will provide multiple recommendations to assist you along the journey, using over a decade of experience to provide you with expert advice and the most efficient products for your home or business.

For further advice, you can call 0113 887 6270 or use the webchat below to speak to one of our experts.

Types of Bathroom Lighting

Type of Lighting

Key Information

Task Lighting

  • Best kind of light to see yourself.
  • Needs to be the brightest type of light you install.
  • Helps you perform fiddly tasks.
  • Important use near the mirror. 

Accent Lighting

  • Designed to showcase a particular object or area of the room.
  • Provides focused illumination.
  • Adds a stylish flair.
  • Not a necessity. 

Decorative Lighting

  • Offers the chance to show off some style.
  • Lots of decorative lights available for a variety of styles.
  • Try experimenting with various decorative lighting. 

Ambient Lighting

  • Acts as a fill light.
  • Can be placed along the perimeter of the bathroom to give it a smaller, cosier feel.
  • Mostly used to create a relaxing atmosphere—perfect if you enjoy a soothing bath.

How to Properly Light Your Bathroom

Varying the lighting types in your bathroom is incredibly important. Emile Azan says “I would suggest that you consider having different levels of lighting. Then, if you’re taking a late-night trip to the bathroom, you can turn on the low level lighting without waking up others – or yourself – too much!”

Lighting can be broken down into five key areas:




Wall Light


Lights to Use Near the Mirror

Mirrors need task lighting. This provides the brightest light and will give you the most accurate representation of how you look. It will also help you shave/apply make-up more easily.

Avoid placing task lighting above the mirror unless you use vanity lights (see next paragraph). Just using task lights above your head can cast deep shadows below your eyes, nose and chin and change the look of your face.

As well as task lighting above the mirror, you should add some ‘vanity lights’ either around the mirror or to the side of it. These can be a simple strip light or softer bulbs. They will help remove any shadows from your face and allow you to see yourself more clearly.

Lights To Use In The Ceiling

Ceiling lights can use task, ambient or accent lighting. It’s best to use a range of all three, to make your bathroom safe yet stylish.

Your task lighting should illuminate the bathroom as brightly as possible. You can use GU10s or downlights for this. Make sure they are 3000k or higher, as this offers a whiter colour of light. For more information on colour temperature, see below.

For accent lighting, you can use downlights. Look for a downlight with a longer neck that you can point in a specific direction. Don’t recess your accent lighting as this stops you from illuminating different parts of the room.

Create ambient lighting by using strip lights or coloured LEDs. To get the right atmosphere, experiment with where you place your ambient lighting—it all depends on the size of your bathroom. Discuss with your designer/electrician what options they recommend.


If you have a large cabinet in your bathroom, it might be worth adding some light to the inside. Strip lights are an easy way to illuminate the inside without the need for excessive wiring.

You may be able to purchase a cabinet/mirror combo, in which case follow the advice regarding which lights to use near the mirror.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of lighting when it comes to creating your dream bathroom. Vital to setting the ambience of a room, the right light, with the right features, can make all the difference.”

- Emile Azan, Designer at Chameleon Interior Design

Wall Lights

Wall lights can use either task lighting or ambient lighting. If your task lighting consists of downlights in the ceiling, you can use the wall lights as an ambient alternative. You could set up a light switch to change between the two: task lights in the ceiling for general use and ambient wall lights for a relaxing bath.

You will want to use a lower Kelvin (2700k—3000k) to create a warmer atmosphere. See below, for a brief overview of Kelvins and how they can improve your bathrooms.


Showers should only use task lighting, as without proper lighting, they can be one of the most dangerous places in the house. Make sure you use bright, white lights that are IP65 rated. This means they are water-resistant and won’t cause a safety issue if they get wet.

IP Ratings for the Bathroom

IP ratings (also known at international protection or ingress protection ratings) define the degree to which an electrical device is protected against intrusion from things like water or dirt.

The first digit (e.g. the 6 in IP65) explains the level of protection against solid objects. The second digit explains the level of water protection.

IP ratings are incredibly important for potentially wet areas, like the bathroom. They are designed to keep the lighting protected and people safe. Martyn Allen says “The lighting in a bathroom needs to be compliant with the requirements of British Standard 7671 Requirements for Electrical Installations (commonly known as the IET Wiring Regulations) – those requirements call for where lighting can be located, the type, and the ingress.”

Protection needed to take account of the environmental conditions, as well as electrical protection.

To find out more about IP ratings, take a look at our guide: IP ratings for LED lights.

IP Rating Numbers And What They Mean

First digit (protection against solid objects)

0 — No protection

1— Protected against penetration by solid objects 50mm+

2 — Protected against penetration by solid objects 12mm+

3 — Protected against penetration by solid objects 2.5mm+

4 — Protected against penetration by solid objects 1mm+

5 — Dust-protected

6 — Dust-tight



Second digit (protection against protection)

0 — No protection

1 — Protected from vertically falling drops

2 — Protected from water drops falling at a max angle of 15o

3 — Protected from water falling at a max angle of 60o

4 — Protected from splashing or projection

5 — Protected from low-pressure jets

6 — Protected from high-pressure jets

7 — Protected from temporary immersion

8 — Protected from long periods of immersion

Bathroom Lighting Zones and What They Mean

Bathroom zones are best explained by looking at the illustration below. Basically, each zone dictates what IP rating of light you must fit.

Pay attention to the second IP number as this tells you what level of water protection you need.

Zone 0

Inside the bath or shower.

Lights must rate at least IP67, preferably IP68 if the light is to be submerged for an extended period of time.



Zone 1

Above the Bath or Shower (to a height of 2.25m from the floor).

Lights must be at least IP45.

(IP65 is Recommended).


Zone 2

The area stretching 0.6m outside the perimeter of the bath/shower to a height of 2.25m from the floor.

At least IP44 is required.



Zone 3

Anywhere outside zones 0,1, and 2

There is no minimum IP rating but we recommend considering at least IP44. This may be useful in cases of steam or spalshes.


Best Types of Bathroom Lights

Recommended Lights for the Bathroom

Spotlights are one of the most common types of lights for the bathroom. They are inexpensive yet offer the greatest scope in terms of designs and colour temperatures. You can either fix them to the ceiling or recess fit them into the ceiling itself. 

Best GU10s For The Bathroom (By Brand)


Master 5.5w LED GU10

  • Wattage: 5.5w (50w equivalent)
  • Lumens: 335lm
  • Colour temp: 4000k (Cool White)
  • Average life: 42,000 hours

Price: £9.99


8w LED GU10 (Dimmable)

  • Wattage: 8w (80w equivalent)
  • Lumens: 535lm
  • Colour temp: 2700k
  • Average life: 25,000 hours

Price: £4.98

GE Energizer GU10GE Energizer GU10


4.2w LED GU10 4000k

  • Wattage: 4.2w (35w equivalent)
  • Lumens: 345lm
  • Colour temp: 4000k (Cool White)
  • Average life: 15,000 hours

Price: £2.39

Eveready 5w LED GU10 

8w LED GU10 (Dimmable)

  • Wattage: 8w (80w equivalent)
  • Lumens: 345lm
  • Colour temp: 3000k
  • Average life: 25,000 hours

Price: £2.59

Appropriate Bathroom Zones

You should only use LED GU10s in Zone 3. GU10s are IP20 and so aren’t water-resistant. We recommend you use GU10s only in areas where they won’t be splashed with water (i.e. well away from the shower/bath/sink).

Legal Requirements

Exposed downlight fittings with an exposed back must not be placed in the bathroom. It is a legal requirement to put GU10’s (both halogen and LED) in a fire rated downlight.

Best Downlights For The Bathroom

GE Energizer GU10GE Energizer GU10

Bright Source 8w/10w All in One 

  • Wattage: 8w or 10w
  • Lumens: 700 - 950 lm
  • Colour temp: 3000K / 4000k / 6000K (Switchable)
  • IP65 - Perfect for kitchens/bathrooms
  • Average life: 50,000 hours
  • Dimmable

Price: £14.94

GE Energizer GU10GE Energizer GU10

Bright Source Eco 5w

  • Wattage: 5w
  • Lumens: 500
  • Colour temp: 3000k (Warm White)
  • IP65 Rated (Waterproof / Steamproof)
  • Average life: 50,000 hours
  • Dimmable

Price: £7.49

Appropriate bathroom zones

You can use LED downlights in: 

  • Zone 1
  • Zone 2
  • Zone 3 (outside zone)

Best Spotlights for the Bathroom

Energizer 10w LED Bathroom Light 4000kEnergizer 10w LED Bathroom Light 4000k

Energizer 10w LED Bathroom Light

  • Wattage: 10w
  • Lumens: 780lm
  • Colour temp: 4000k (Cool White)
  • IP Rating: IP44  (Splash and steam resistant)
  • Average life: 25,000 hours
  • Equivalent to 60w incandescent lamp

Price: £14.50

Bright Source 16w IP54 Round Bathroom FittingBright Source 16w IP54 Round Bathroom Fitting

Bright Source 16w IP54 Round Bathroom Fitting

  • Wattage: 52
  • Lumens: 1250lm
  • Colour temp: 3000K / 4000k / 6000K
  • IP54 Rated (Dustproof / Splashproof)
  • Average life: 50,000 hours
  • Energy savings of up to 42%

Price: £23.70

Appropriate bathroom zones

You can use LED downlights in:

  • Zone 1
  • Zone 2
  • Zone 3 (Outside zone)

How to Fit LED Recessed Lights

  1. Completely remove existing fittings before installing your new LED lights.
  2. Remove the bezel from the LED so just the main fixture is in your hand.
  3. Hold the product in place and mark the position of the holes.
  4. Make sure there is a joist at the point of fixing to support the weight of your LED.
  5. Fix into position.


Lights must be fitted by a competent and qualified electrician.

To prevent electrocution, switch off at the mains before installing or maintaining this fitting.

Colour Temperatures for the Bathroom

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvins—the higher the Kelvin, the more white/blue the light will be.

Low Kelvins around 2700k make the lighting warmer and softer, which is excellent for a relaxing atmosphere.

Higher Kelvins are designed to illuminate the room in the whitest way possible, which is better for attention to detail and staying alert, making these colours more appropriate task lighting.

Below is an illustration of Kelvins and what types of light they offer.

What is the Best Colour Temperature For The Bathroom?

If you can budget for different types of light, we recommend a combination:

  • Ambient lights between 2700k and 3000k: Perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing atmosphere in the bath. The light will be warmer and softer and will strain your eyes less.
  • Bright task lights between 3500k and 4000k: This will illuminate you well for mirror viewing. It will also help with smaller tasks like putting on make-up, styling hair, cleaning, etc.

Although, different colour temperatures will suit different colour schemes.

Ramsey Dawson says:

“Choosing the temperature of light really depends on the colour scheme of the bathroom, Greys and dark colours work well with Cooler light whereas softer earthy tones look better in warm white light.”

For more information about Kelvins, check out our guide: Guide to LED colour temperatures.

Tips for Lighting Different Types of Bathrooms

Steph Briggs offers types of lighting for different types of bathrooms below:


Keep it simple, a few spotlights, a wall light over the vanity mirror and candles for long soaks in the bath


You can be bright and bold with a contemporary room. I’d also use the biggest mirrors possible to bounce the light around.

Functional / Family

Simple LED spot lights are an economical way to set light in focussed areas within a bathroom.

Wet Room

I favour built in and minimalist for a wet room, slick fitted lighting with options on.

Expert Contributors

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