Electricity-wise, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in your home. Get an electric shock in the bathroom or shower and you’ll know about it. Wet skin reduces the body’s resistance — which is why we have special requirements for electricity in the bathroom.
Firstly, avoid placing 13-amp sockets in bathrooms at all costs. Regulations do allow this, but stipulate that sockets be placed at least 3m from the bath or shower — so you need a really big bathroom, which in most cases makes it impossible anyway. Either way, it’s best avoided.
One more popular form of electricity in the bathroom is the shaver socket — which, of course, is used these days just as much for charging electric toothbrushes as for shavers. There are two types of shaver sockets — with and without transformers. Those without a transformer should not be used in a wet area such as a shower room or bathroom. Also when installing the flush back box, use a double box (47mm deep).
Regulations do not allow wall switches – 230V (volt) systems – to be placed in bathrooms. Pull switches mounted on ceilings are permitted — however, you can put a wall switch outside the room and this tends to be the more design-friendly approach these days. This regulation does not include toilet closets.
Bathroom Zones Explained
The bathroom is divided into three zones for electricity regulations.
Zone 0 is inside the bath or shower. Fittings must have a minimum IP67 rating (IP ratings are explained below).
Zone 1 is up to 2.25m above the bath or shower.
Zone 2 is 0.6m outside the bath or shower and under 2.25m OR the area above the bath or shower above 2.25m. It’s good practice to consider the area around your basin as Zone 2 too.
Electrical equipment in the bathroom needs mechanical and moisture protection — i.e. ‘Ingress Protection’ (IP) numbers. The first digit shows the protection against foreign objects on a scale of 1-6 (hands through to dust) and the second digit protection against water on a scale of 1-8 (condensation to full-scale immersion).
Lights must have an IP number if they are going into Zones 0, 1 or 2. Bathroom products are clearly marked with an IP rating and the zone where they can be installed, e.g. light fittings, as a general rule in bathrooms, should be IP67 and IP65.
Read Darryl Bertie’s guide to the basics of electrics here