How to Wire a Bathroom Heat Lamp

Bathrooms tend to be tiled, and those tiles can be chilly on winter mornings. Stepping out of a steaming hot shower or bath into a chilled room and onto cold tiles can remove any relaxation gained from the warm waters. Installing a heat lamp can bring up the comfort level in your bathroom, making it a toasty welcome to your day and a relaxing haven at night.

Bathroom details clean white basin with shower tiling behind
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How to Wire a Bathroom Heat Lamp

How it Works

An incandescent light bulb in the infrared heat lamp generates a fair amount of heat and a bit of illumination. They are energy efficient even though they are blasting all that heat from the fixture. The heat that emanates from the bathroom heat lamp is not considered a waste, whereas the heat from a standard light bulb is. They shouldn't be used as the sole source of heat or light for your bathroom. A switch to control the lamp separately from light sources in the room is ideal so you aren't heating up the area unnecessarily.

Electrical Considerations

The National Electrical Code is in all 50 states and is intended for safe electrical installation and inspection to prevent electrical mishaps. It is updated every three years with changes based on technology, safety requirements and more. Familiarize yourself with the NEC guidelines for heat lamps before installing the model of lamp yourself. For instance, a GFCI protection is required for larger circuits and has expanded to include 250-volt, single-phase receptacles that are 50 amps or less. You may need to consider a dedicated circuit with its own breaker in the electrical box. This is intended to be used with a single appliance so that the breaker doesn't trip when the appliance, such as a heat lamp, is in use. Bathroom exhaust fan combo units with a light and heater built in require a dedicated circuit and a wall switch.

How to Install

Turn off the breaker before you begin. Bathroom heat lamps use a lot of electricity. Make sure that the dedicated circuit in the home is proper for the unit that is being installed. If the circuit power is at the switch location, two cables need to be installed that lead from the wall to the unit, a three-wire cable and a two-wire cable. The neutral wire is shared with all three elements of the unit and the ground wire. Run the two-wire cable from the breaker box to the switch box on the wall and strip the ends about 1.5 inches to expose the bare wire. Attach those to the switch box. Attach the black wire through the singular hole on the side for the heater. The red wire from the three wire cable is attached to the other side with the three holes on the back of the switch box, directly across from where you attached the black wire. The black wire from the three-wire cable is installed under the red wire. Attach the black wire from the three-wire cable to the remaining third hole. Twist the white wires from all cables together and put a twist-on wire connection around it. Then, wrap with electrical tape. Do this to all exposed wires. Connect the red wire from the fixture to its twin and join all the ends of the matching colors together.

Safety Tips

Although the process appears to be simple, don't take safety issues lightly. Always wear safety goggles and have the appropriate clothing on when working with electrical fixtures. Long sleeved shirts and pants can protect your skin from sparks. Grounding wires and ensuring that the currents aren't conducting while work is being completed will keep you safe as you install a bathroom heat lamp.

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at