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How to Choose Bathroom Lighting

Lighting options are changing as a result of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). While the EISA doesn’t actually ban incandescent bulbs, its high minimum-efficiency standards mean few incandescents will meet them. 

Halogen, CFL or LED?

The most common replacement options for 100-watt incandescents are 26-watt compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs and 72-watt halogen bulbs.

Many lighting designers lean toward halogens, at least for now. New halogens look like incandescents and produce comparable light levels with similar color temperatures.

CFLs can be somewhat problematic. You can’t arbitrarily pick a 26-watt CFL. Color temperatures vary, so try choosing one with a warm light color (around 3000 K), not all CFLs are dimmable, and many still don’t come to full brightness immediately (although instant-on models are becoming more readily available).

LEDs aren’t quite ready for prime time, either: The best produce only as much light as a 60-watt incandescent, and are very expensive in the short term. But LED technology is long-lived and advancing fast. 

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Choosing Fixtures

In bathrooms, we recommend a mixture of light sources. Many designers suggest using fluorescent lights in showers and in lighted bath fans since once you put the lens on, you can’t tell the difference,  but some prefer incandescents in the bath bar around the vanity where women apply their makeup. That blend of sources works perfectly with Moen’s bathroom lighting fixtures in the Waterhill, Iso, Rothbury and Eva collections, all of which will take a maximum of 100-watt, medium-base incandescent bulbs.

Avoid dimmable CFLs, since not all bulbs work with all fixtures. 

The Future

When LED technology comes a little further along, it promises to be a game changer in lighting design. Not only does it use little power and lasts for years, but the 1/16-sqare-inch size of a single bulb opens up unlimited possibilities.The industry is already developing ideas no one has seen before, including “tiny linear products,” such as tape embedded with LED lights that can be placed under cabinets, inside cabinets, along toe kicks or steps, or even inside socket receptacles.

We expect to see architects and interior designers building little niches into walls with architectural lighting. It introduces a lot of interesting design possibilities. Almost every day there’s something new. It’s an exciting time.

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