A guide to LED Bathroom lights
Perhaps the most important aesthetic feature of a bathroom, aside from the bathtub or shower, is the choice of lighting. Lighting helps to set the mood of the bathroom, often it is a balancing act between providing enough lighting in the right places, whilst also maintaining a relaxing, soft light.
A common choice for bathroom lights are halogen downlights. Halogen downlights have declined sharply in popularity over the years, this is due to the fact that not only are they very expensive to run, but they can actually be quite dangerous! Halogen downlights have even been associated with 20% of house fires in Australia (which is why the governments of Australia and other countries are phasing them out).
A cheaper, safer alternative to halogen downlights is LEDs. The benefits of LEDs are numerous when compared with halogen, compact fluorescent or incandescent lights. First and foremost, the heat they emit is minimal, meaning that the risk of fire or injury is drastically reduced (LED’s can be touched even after being on for hours). Secondly, the potential energy saving benefits of using LED’s is up to 85% compared to a halogen or incandescent bulb. They even use about 30% less than Compact Fluorescent Lights (known commonly as energy-saving bulbs). These savings are compacted even further by the lifespan of LEDs, with their minimal power and heat output, LEDs can last between 30,000-50,000 hours (which comes to about 3.5 to 5.5 years continuous lighting time!), this beats halogen lights by about 1000 hours and CFL’s by about 15,000+ hours. On top of this, LEDs –unlike halogen bulbs- contain no mercury or lead, making them much more environmentally friendly when it comes to disposing of them.
Broadly, there are two types of white lights, Warm white and Cold white. Cold white lights tend to provide a starker light, and are commonly used in clinics, laboratories and hospitals (where it is important to have maximum light, without misrepresenting the colour of what you’re looking at). Warm white lights are more homely, providing a softer light which is more effective for mood lighting and is not too painful on the retinas to look at.
Generally, the preferred option when it comes to bathroom lighting is a warm white colour, with bulbs that will provide enough light that you can see adequately, but soft enough to allow you to relax in the tub when you want to.
To maximise the savings, it’s a good idea to have your transformers changed when making the switch to LED lighting. Depending on the type of transformers you currently have for the circuits in your bathroom, LEDs may or may not be compatible with your existing transformers. Though LEDs are compatible with the vast majority of existing transformers, it is worth checking first to ensure that your LEDs do not flicker, dim or buzz. Switching your transformers to ones specifically designed for LEDs can help to regulate the flow of power, making even more savings. You may wish to install dimmable LEDs, which will require specific transformers. Please be aware though that if you have dimmable halogens installed in your property, LEDs will not work with your circuit unless you change the transformer (or bypass the circuit, which will mean the dimmer switch will no longer work and the lights will be either on or off).
Another factor to consider when installing LED lights in your bathroom is the luminous flux; this determines the brightness of the light itself. Remember that wattage does not necessarily determine the brightness of a light (for example, an 8 watt LED is about as bright as a 35 watt halogen). A nice luminous flux for LED bathroom light is around 800-1000 lumens, this will provide a good level of lighting, without being too overbearing.
Another thing to bear in mind is the style of light you wish to use, and the beam angle of the bulb itself. Smaller beam angles (30-50 degrees), will provide a small spotlight style light, which is good for illuminating corners or specific areas of the bathroom. Wider beam angles will provide a broader range of lighting; more suited to lighting the whole room.
Before making a purchase, it’s always a good idea to have a look at a few different types of lights, a range of luminous flux, and angles to suit the aesthetics of your bathroom.