Are you considering doing a total bathroom renovation, but have no idea where to start, or what needs to be taken into account? Well, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about bathroom electrical zones.
A bathroom is considered a special location for electrical installation and extra care needs to be taken when considering where electrical equipment should be placed. This is because, the bathroom is an extremely hazardous room as it runs the risk of mixing electricity and water and the last thing you want when having a long soak is an electric shock! This is where bathroom electrical zones come into play.
Bathroom electrical zones are areas of your bathroom where electrical products are installed and pose a risk of an electric shock, if they’re not installed properly, due to the proximity of the appliance and water.
Bathroom zones are broken down into Zone 0, 1 and 2. So, let’s get started on explaining each zone and how to avoid getting an electric shock at all costs!
Electrical Zones Explained
There are 3-bathroom zones that have been identified by the 18th edition IET wiring regulations and all applicable British standards :
Zone 0 – Is defined as any area in a bathroom that can hold water. So, any area inside the bath, basin or shower tray. This zone requires a minimum of IPX7 and only 12V SELV equipment should be used. IPX7 means the product can be immersed in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
Zone 1 – You should think of Zone 1 as the ‘splash zone’. This is still a high a risk area that will get very wet. Zone 1 is the area directly above zone 0 and a height of 2.25m from the floor. Any electrical fitting or appliance within zone 1 must be IPX4 as well as 12V SELV. IPX4 means it has water splash resistance from any direction.
Zone 2 – Is the area 600mm above or to the side of the bath and shower and still 2.25m from the floor. Zone 2 is the area least likely to get wet but, still a likeliness of the odd splashes. Again, this zone requires a minimum of IPX4.
If you’re lucky enough to have a big bathroom that extends beyond zones 0,1 and 2, we recommend that anything electrical is still installed with a moisture/ water protection – It’s always better to be safe than sorry! Electrical equipment that is transportable, such as a hairdryer, can be used if its flex length does stretch into zone 2. Any equipment that can stretch into zones, 0, 1 or 2 without an IP number should not be used in the bathroom.
Beyond Zones 0, 1 and 2
For bathrooms that extend beyond zones 0,1 and 2, we recommend that anything electrical is still installed with a moisture/ water protection. Electrical equipment that is transportable, such as a hairdryer can be used if its flex length does not allow it to be used in zone 2. Any equipment that can stretch into zones, 0, 1 or 2 without an IP number should not be used as this means they have no water/moisture or dirt resistance and will run the risk of electrocution.
IP Ratings Explained
You may be reading this article and wondering ‘What on earth is an IP rating?!’
In this section we cover a basic understand of IP ratings and what you should look out for when installing electrical appliances.
What is an IP rating?
To gain a full understanding of bathroom zones, it is worth familiarising yourself with IP ratings. IP rating stands for Ingress Protection. They are used to identify levels of sealing efficiency of electrical enclosures against water, dirt and dust. Ratings are determined by tests carried out by the manufacturer of the product.
The IP number is made up of two digits. The first digit refers to the level of protection against solid objects such as dirt and the second digit is the protection against moisture. As you can imagine, the higher the number, the better the protection level will be. Both IP ratings start from 0. 0 rating, which means there is zero protection available and your likely to get zapped whilst shaving your legs!
IP Rating For Solids
Here we break down the IP rating for solid objects, sounds exciting doesn’t it?
IP Rating For Liquids
What is an IPX rating?
Now you may be thinking ‘what is an IPX rating?’, don’t worry we’ve got you covered.
IP ratings that feature an ‘X’ in the code means that a numerical rating has only been provided for one of the two main ingress types. The two main ingress types are foreign bodies (dust and dirt or moisture).
For example, IPX4 will demonstrate a moisture resistance of 4 but has not been given a rating against other foreign bodies. Alternatively, an IP5X rating will mean the product has been coded 5 against foreign body invasion but has not been certified for a level of moisture resistance and so on.
Other Bathroom Electrical Hazards to Consider
Some other examples of electrical appliances and fittings in a bathroom are lighting, extractor fans, radiators, vanities and mirrors that include LED installation. These appliances should be placed in the right zone, to avoid any threat to you or your family.
Can you have electrical sockets in a bathroom?
If like us, you’d love to use your hairdryer in the bathroom, then you will be happy to learn that electrical sockets can be installed. Make sure your electrical items are fitted more than 3m from the edge of your bath or shower. This will avoid water and steam from entering the socket and giving you an almighty electric shock.
Can you install electric shaver sockets in a bathroom?
According to the updated 17th edition of the IEE Wiring Regulations, it is safe to install electric shaver sockets in your bathroom providing the socket is 110v and installed in zone 2 or beyond, with at least a 3-metre gap from either the bath or shower. This is done to avoid any splash backs onto the socket.
Never use a socket that exceeds 240v anywhere in your bathroom, you will put yourself and your family at risk of an electric shock. If you do install an electric shaver socket and are the lucky owner of an electric toothbrush, you’ll be happy to know that you can use the same socket to charge your toothbrush. This only applies to toothbrushes with a 2-pin plug.
Does Steam In My Bathroom Matter?
Is there anything better than melting all your troubles away in an extremely hot bath? No of course there isn’t, but this means your bathroom will accumulate a considerate amount of steam. Opening windows or installing extractor fans will reduce steam levels and take the moisture out of the air, for healthy ventilation. This will prevent moisture finding its way into your electric sockets and putting anybody at risk of an electric shock.
What zone are bathroom lights?
When selecting your light fittings, you need to establish in which area of your bathroom it will be placed and how exposed it will be to water.
Do I need special Lights in My Bathroom?
Like every other electrically installed product in your bathroom, lights pose a risk of electric shock. Take care when deciding which lights to use. Every light has an IP rating to help you decide a safe place for it to be installed.
Here is a breakdown of lightings IP ratings.
Lights for zone 0 – If you wish to include ground lights in your shower enclosure the fitting must have a minimum rating of IP67 and be completely immersion proof.
Lights for zone 1 – In this zone a minimum rating of IP54 is required but it is generally accepted that IP65 is to be used. Most shower lights are rated at IP65. Light zone 1 is the area above the bath or shower to a height of 2.25m. An IP44 will ensure that the fitting is protected against any spray.
If the light uses 240V, it should be protected 30ma RCD (residual current device), to guard the circuit in this zone.
Lights for zone 2 – for lights in this zone you should have a minimum of IP44.
Outside Zones – this is any area that falls outside zones 0,1 and 2. This area does not require an IP rating as these should not come into contact with water.
Even light fittings that are installed beyond the electric zones should have an IP rating. This is because bathrooms tend to be humid environments due to steam from hot water. We would suggest that lighting installed outside of zone 2 should be a minimum of IP44. This is to protect you from the risk of an electrical shock and to avoid fittings becoming loose from steam exposure.
Do I need special bulbs in my bathroom?
Once you have found a safe place to install your light, it is fine to use standard non-IP rated light fittings in your bathroom. As long as you have followed all the safety regulations, it is safe to use an ordinary light fitting in your bathroom.
How To Get Your Bathroom Check For Electrical Safety?
To ensure a safe job you can contact a NICEIC registered contractor or a qualified electrician. Electricians registered with NICEIC are assessed on a regular basis and checked against the IEE Wiring Regulations. They will carry out an electrical inspection of your property.
Please note that all electrical circuits within a bathroom must be protected by a Residual Current Device (RCD). RCD is a device fitted to prevent electric shocks, if you were to touch something live. It can also offer protection against electrical fires.
*The information we have provided is for guidance. Always refer to a qualified electrician or follow IEE regulations. *
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