What are Bathroom Electrical Zones?

large bathroom with lights and a bathtub

If you’re looking at installing a new bathroom in your home, you may have begun to realise there’s more to it than simply adding in a new bath or shower. Perhaps you’ve found a stylish bathroom mirror with lights to illuminate your reflection, or you’ve discovered a modern electric towel rail, perfect for keeping your bathroom and towels toasty warm. With each of these bathroom products, electricity is needed to get them working, which can pose an issue if it comes into contact with water. So, how safe are they in a bathroom where water is present?

That’s where Bathroom Electrical Zones come in.

If you’ve never heard of a bathroom electrical zone before and want to be in the know, then read on to find out exactly what they are, and which bathroom appliance safely goes into which zone.

What is a Bathroom Electrical Zone?

bathroom with led bathroom mirror and black toilet

It's a well-known fact that water and electricity don't mix, and that's why extra measures are put into place when installing electrical appliances in a bathroom. Falling under the 'special location' conditions, or in other words, a room with a bath or shower, precise consideration must be taken when installing electrical goods to reduce the chance of electric shocks or other damage.

With this in mind, 'Bathroom Electrical Zones' are designated areas in your bathroom where electrical equipment must reach a certain safety requirement to be installed.

To minimise the chance of harm, all electrical appliances found in a bathroom are carefully checked and assigned a specific 'IP Rating', which falls into a specific 'bathroom electrical zone'.

Unsure what an IP Rating is? Read on if you want to know more about IP Ratings and where each bathroom zone can be found...

What is an IP Rating?

RAK Cupid LED Bathroom Mirror with Demister Pad & Shaver Socket 600x1200mm Mains Power

If you’ve read the above and are scratching your head wondering what an IP Rating is, we’ve got you covered. An IP Rating (Ingress Protection Rating) is a grading system carried out by the product's manufacturer that helps determine how effectively a product is protected against external factors, such as water or dust.

With any bathroom appliance that uses electricity, such as bathroom lights or bathroom extractor fans, the IP number will indicate which bathroom electrical zone the appliance can be fitted into safely.

IP ratings are made up of two numbers:

  • Number one: this ranges from 0-6 and refers to the level of protection against solid external factors, like dust.
  • Number two: this ranges from 0-8 and refers to the level of protection against liquid/water in your bathroom.

With both, the higher the number, the better the level of protection. So, a 68 IP rating would be the crème-de-la-crème of ratings, whereas a 00 IP rating is a no-go if it's going to be close to water!

What are the Different Bathroom Zones?

bathroom electrical zones diagram

Altogether, there are 3 bathroom electrical zones identified in the BS 7671 - 18th Edition by the IET Wiring Regulations and British Standards Institution. Starting from 0, which is the highest risk area, down to 2, which is the lowest risk area; each zone allows a different IP Rating for safety.

Zone 0

Zone 0 is found directly inside your bath, basin, or shower enclosure, so you’ll need the IP rating to be as high as possible. Any electrical appliance used inside this bathroom zone must have a low voltage (maximum 12V) and at least an IP67 rating, which means they can be fully immersed in water without any danger.

Bathroom appliances that can be found in this zone include jet pumps designed for whirlpool baths.

Zone 1

Zone 1 is where electrical equipment will most likely get wet but won’t be completely submerged in water. Covering a height of 2.25m from the floor up, each product must have a rating of IP65 or over.

Bathroom appliances found in this zone include electric showers.

Zone 2

Commonly referred to as the ‘splash zone’, Zone 2 stretches beyond Zone 1 by 0.6m outwards and 2.25m in height. Zone 2 is an area that is least likely to get wet but still could. For any appliances located in Zone 2, an IP Rating of IP44 is required.

Bathroom appliances found in this zone include bathroom ceiling lights and extractor fans.

In a nutshell, the lower the zone number, the higher the IP rating should be! But some bathrooms stretch beyond these zones, and that's where the 'outside zone', also known as 'Zone 3', sits:

Zone 3

Zone 3 is anywhere outside of Zones 0-2 where water is unlikely to reach. This area also goes under your bath if a tool is required to remove the bath panel. With Zone 3, an IP Rating is not required.

Bathroom appliances found in this zone include sockets & switches and shaver outlets.

Although bathroom products in this zone don't need an IP Rating, it is still worth ensuring all electrical appliances are installed with safe, moisture-free protection.

Please note: be sure to always enlist a qualified electrician to install your electrical bathroom appliances.

If you found this post useful, you may also be interested in - Guide to Buying Heated Towel Rails For Your Bathroom - What Lights Can You Use in a Bathroom? - Electric Shower Guide for Buyers.

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