The trend towards luxury bathrooms and wet rooms has also driven impressive developments in bathroom technology, and nowadays there are more and more electrical appliances being installed in these spaces. Water carries electricity efficiently but, if the two mix, the result can be deadly. The consequences of an electric shock are far more severe in a bathroom as wet skin reduces the body’s resistance. So, electrical safety considerations in the bathroom/wet room are of paramount importance.
What electrical items could be fitted in a wet room?
Special care and attention needs to be taken when placing electrical items in the wet room. Examples of electrical appliances and fittings include the following:
– electric showers
– ventilation fans/systems
– bathroom radiators, electric heaters, heated towel rails
– mirrors and cabinets with electrical fittings
– tv screens
What does the IP rating on appliances mean?
IP stands for “Ingress Protection” and IP numbers refer to the given level of protection against ingress of water or other particles. The higher the number after the IP notation the better the protection it has against moisture or breakage. If an item does not have an IP number it should not be used in any of the IEE designated zones 0 – 2, or anywhere that has a damp environment. Each zone though has a minimum IP requirement that must be met if a fitting is to be installed in this area.
What zone applies to wet rooms?
Wet rooms must apply to Zone 0.
How are IEE zones defined and where are they located?
There are 3 designated electrical zones in the wet room that have been identified in the IEE wiring regulations and it is crucial that any of the appliances listed above is sited in the correct zone.
Zone 0 – essentially anywhere inside the shower and is defined as “any area within a bathroom that can hold water”. Any appliance in this zone must be a maximum of 12 volts (Separated Extra Low Voltage) and fully protected against both partial and total immersion in water (minimum of IPX7) (IP67)
Zone 1 – the area directly above zone 0 to the height of 2.25m from the bottom of the shower. It also covers the width of the shower. It is effectively the “splash zone” where the appliance is likely to get wet very quickly. Any fitting or appliance in this zone must be IPX4 (splash proof) or better as well as a maximum of 12v (SELV) with the transformer located beyond zone 2
Zone 2 – the area extending to 600mm outside of the shower, either above or to the sides. Typically an area that is least likely to get wet but there is a possibility of it being splashed. Any fitting or appliance in this zone must be IPX4 (splash proof) or better as well as a maximum of 12v (SELV) with the transformer located beyond zone 2.
Beyond Zone 2 – although installing electrical equipment beyond zone 2 is permitted without an IP number, it is always recommended that the items have some kind of mechanical or moisture protection
Do any regulations apply to the installation of electrical appliances?
Yes, most electrical work must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations Act 2010 and it is strongly recommended that only electricians registered with one of the government-approved schemes should carry out any electrical installation work.
Part P states that no mains voltage may be fitted in a wet room including electric shaving sockets, light switches and standard sockets. Lights should be enclosed and mounted on the ceiling, with a pull-cord installed for use. Alternatively, wall-mounted switches should be installed outside of the wet room.
Electric and gas heaters must be fixed at a safe distance from the shower area and a pull-cord switch installed outside of the wet room is also advised.