We all know that water and electricity doesn’t mix. When your hands are wet for example, you have a far greater risk of shock. So how do you design good lighting and power into you bathroom? Here are a few things to consider before you get going on your project.
In Australia and New Zealand at least, a licenced electrician must carry out all domestic electrical installations. There are strict rules and regulations (AS/NZS3000) that must be followed, and wet areas such as bathrooms, laundries and kitchens require special attention. A good electrician will be able to guide you as to what is allowed in your situation, so get them involved early in the design process. (That goes for the plumber too.) If you are using a designer then they should be aware of requirements as well.
However, it is also beneficial to have some basic understanding of the rules and regulations regarding wet areas so that you can take a more informed approach. Please note this is not a how to guide, rather we are trying to demonstrate the need for you to employ qualified professionals early when designing and choosing fittings.
When water is in close proximity to electricity, we generally agree it’s potentially a bad situation if you are there too. When there is some distance between water and electricity we feel safer. Zones are designed to define areas with precise measurements in an effort to keep you safe. In the wiring standards AS/NZS3000 bath, shower and fixed water container section, there are four zones. Each zone has its own rules on what can and cannot be installed.
Zone 0: Best thought of as the area that may collect water such us the shower trough, a sink or bath.
Zone 1: Usually adjacent to Zone 0, i.e, shower walls.
Zone 2: For showers, it is the area immediately outside the shower door area. For vanities and baths, it is the area surrounding the water containment.
Zone 3: An area outside of zone 2, usually thought of as the least restrictive.
An obvious example on the use of zones is in Zone 0, power outlets are not permitted. You do not want a power point in the base of your shower!
Another example is lighting in Zone 0. It is permitted, but it must be designed specifically for use in a bath or shower, be low voltage and have an IPX7 (Ingress Protection) rating. Lighting in Zone 1 requires IPX4, Zone 2 requires IPX4 OR double insulated OR low voltage OR be recessed into the ceiling, and Zone 3 has no IP rating requirements.
This is why it’s difficult to answer the question “Can I use this light fitting in my Bathroom?” without all the details of where it’s being installed. You may want a wall light either side of a mirror. The position on the left may be permitted, the same light fitting on the right side may not be permitted as it is deemed to be inside a more restrictive zone.
A good designer and/or your electrician should be able to work these issues out before you start building. A good approach might be to draw the plan and elevations of your new bathroom and ask your electrician or designer to mark out all of the zones represented in your design. Alternatively you can mark out your bare framed bathroom with a marker or masking tape. If your electrician is not too familiar with bathroom regulations, or you feel is being over cautious, send him to standard AS/NZS 3000 section 6.2.4..
We can retrofit a number of our standard light fittings to 12V along with low voltage globes to suit. These will comply with Zone 2 requirements. Our range of standard light fittings are generally suitable for use in Zone 3.