Written by Larry Cook

Modern Bathroom Electrical Wiring Needs

The increased electrical demands of modern bathrooms, along with their damp environments, must be considered together. The following will discuss the proper wiring for your bath in relation to ventilation, lighting, outlets, and circuits. Before you proceed with any project involving wiring, make sure to consult with a licensed and trusted electrician to get the best electrical results for your bathroom.

Ventilation

Bathrooms are often filled with moisture, and there are those that do not have windows to help dry the space. Although windows are helpful, the right bathroom ventilation fans are far more effective for the removal of damp air and odors. Another benefit is conserving heating during winters. Building codes usually require ventilation fans for every remodel and new bathroom. There are now even types that are also equipped a heater, but these require different wiring specifications.

Lighting

A home’s bathrooms are often the darkest due to location and the use of smaller windows to ensure privacy. To address this need, an installation plan featuring plentiful lighting should be implemented for overall illumination and task lighting for areas such as vanities, mirrors, closets, as well as bathtub and shower areas.

Special light fixtures for the bathroom and shower areas will have one of two ratings, which are “wet locations” or “damp locations”. The bathing area, also known as the shower zone, needs a minimum rating for damp locations. If a fixture were in the range of shower spray, a rating for wet locations is required.

As for lighting for the vanity mirror, lights such as sconces or on strips on both sides work best with a little help from above. Lighting from only overhead will cast a shadow upon your face when it nears the mirror, and so lights from above must work in combination with side lighting.

Outlets

Every bathroom outlet has to be protected with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), which helps prevent electric shock. GFCI protection can be provided through the installation of a GFCI circuit breaker or GFCI outlet(s) on the receptacle circuit. A single GFCI outlet requires wiring that provides multi-location protection, making all the outlets downstream safe.

Circuits

The typical base wiring plan for contemporary bathrooms feature a 20-amp GFCI circuit for the receptacles and a 15-amp general lighting circuit for switches, lighting fixtures, and the ventilation fan. Specific areas must have the lighting and receptacles on separate circuits. In the event the circuit breaker is tripped by a receptacle, the lighting won’t be shut off.

For other areas it is fine to have receptacles, lighting, and a conventional ventilation fan on one 20-amp circuit if the circuit is only serving the bathroom. In contrast, a ventilation fan equipped with a heater will require a dedicated 20-amp circuit. Certain devices such as heating appliances typically need dedicated circuits.

Electrical Peace of Mind

Providing professional electricians since 1988 in Maryland, Cook Electric is the company you can rely on for all your electrical service needs, including:

  • Commercial & Residential Electrical Installations
  • Marina & Residential Pier Wiring
  • Electrical Service & Repair
  • Specialty Electrical Services

For knowledgeable, fair, honest, reliable, and conscientious service, call Cook Electric today at (410) 266-9040. They will be very glad to help you.

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