In order to be clear about what you are shopping for, it is important to understand the regulations in a bathroom.
Which areas should IP44-rated lights be used?
Opposite is a diagram which describes the different zones of a bathroom. According to the regulations, IP44-rated fittings are required when located inside the area described as zone 2. Therefore, if you are using a pair of wall lights either side of the mirror, make sure they are located just outside of zone 2 so you can use a standard fitting i.e. not IP44. It is worth noting that some common sense should be applied and it is always worth taking the advice of the electrician.
Zone 0 and zone 1 are the most heavily regulated when it comes to safety – zone 0 covers submerged lights which must be completely immersion proof, while zone 1 refers to the area immediately above the bath (to a height of 2.25m from the floor) where IP65 lighting is recommended.
IP44 lighting is suitable for use in zone 2 and zone 3 (outside zones) – in other words, within 60cm from the edge of the bath and to a height of 2.25m from the floor. Note that inside a 60cm radius above a basin is also zone 2 and requires fittings rated as IP44 or higher.
How to convert non-IP44 lights for bathroom use
Keep in mind that not all bathroom fixtures are at risk of water ingress and, therefore, don’t need to be IP44-rated. Since IP44 fittings are designed for areas where water spray is a possible hazard, there are a number of tricks you can use to get the non-IP44 light you want to fit the regulations.
If you have your sights set on a bathroom pendant, but it hangs too low above your bath or sink, one possible solution is changing the length of the flex to keep it out of the splash zone and into zone 3. After all, it’s a matter of centimetres to move/elevate your fitting from one zone to the next.
Another easy trick for making your preferred light bathroom-suitable is by using a sensible shade to prevent splashing. Large shades with small openings are the ideal choice to prevent water from getting in.
Alternatively, it could be as simple as flipping the wall lights above your sink from a downlight into an uplighter to keep away from water splashes.
Very often, IP44 lights are more expensive and limit you in terms of choice, so knowing these tricks can also save you money.
Bathroom installers are sometimes quick to specify that you need IP44 lights and protest against installing anything but, regardless of whether regulations are complied with. However, knowing the rules and being aware of the ways you can incorporate non-IP44 lighting into your bathroom will allow you to push back and question the installers.Always err on the side of caution and be sensible, but if you want a beautiful chandelier in your bathroom and have sufficient ceiling height to locate it outside of zone 2, there is no need to be deterred.