Bathroom Light Switches

Local ordinances problems you might face

and how to live with them

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You want a simple light switch for your new bathroom lighting - great. You might have even added a ventilation fan to your bathroom, and want a simple switch to turn it on and off. But many local municipalities will have something to say about all that. Ordinances, like hoops for you to jump through - like us, your local codes might require things like CFL lights be included.

Like many, your feelings about local ordinances might be one of independence - 'mind your own business'. It's the natural response - obeying the local municipality ordinances costs you money, time, convenience for what seems like inconsequential reasons.

On the other hand, you might believe that local codes are there for a good reason - to protect you from shoddy work, shortcuts, un safe work, resource wastage, pest intrusion, fire, flood, earthquake - any number of potential problems common in your area of the world. As much of a pain as they are, local codes are not a bad thing.

Enter in subject of wall switches for your nice new bathroom fan and light. Compact fluorescent lighting is feature required by local codes for this ventilation fan. But believe it or not, the actual placement and location of the switch can be subject to city approval too - nice... If you disagree with small requirements like this, you are free to make changes after the inspection passes.

Our contractor told us that the city requires the switch for the CFL to be the closer switch to the door - meaning that entering the room, you'll reach for the closest light switch and use that.

Oh, not only that, but the incandescent light must be on a motion sensing switch so it will turn off if no motion is detected after a few minutes time. That's a great feature if you tend to walk out of the room and leave lights on - no so good if you're in the shower or in a sitting posture causing little motion.

Annoyed by this at first, having the CFL switch closest to the bathroom door is perfectly fine in this instance. There's plenty of light, and the only time we use the incandescent light switch is when some extra light is needed.

You will have some options when it comes to the switches installed. Large rocker switches can be used - you'll want three - one for the original incandescent, one for the fan, and one for the CFL. Doing it this way, you can exit the bathroom, leaving the fan running without wasting electricity on the CFL.

We decided to use a switch package that included two half sized rockers mounted horizontally for the fan switch and CFL switch, and one large rocker vertically mounted for the incandescent lighting. The two horizontal rockers are closest to the entry way so they'll be found first.

All in all, despite some silly seeming requirements, the bathroom light switches worked out fine when done right according to local codes.

Though not too exciting, heres some pictures showing the compact switch pack used. You don't have to go with an enormous array of switches for two lights and a fan

Picture 1: Small Bathroom light switch
Picture 2: Large Bathroom light switch
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