Bathroom / Vanity Light Buying Guide

Bathroom / Vanity Light Buying Guide

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Finding lighting that suits your bathroom or vanity can be a daunting job. With such a wide variety of options for a given consumer, and an even more substantial array of companies to buy them from, it can be tough to know which lights are best for you. Butler Lighting can help you find the bathroom and vanity lighting that fits your specific needs.


Small Budget

A small budget when it comes to bathroom and vanity is going to have two main focuses, functionality and correct sizing. The types of glass available for your lighting with a small budget are clear, white, and milky glass. You also need to take the size of your vanity or sink into account when working with a small budget to ensure that you purchase the correct light fixture(s). A 36-inch vanity will typically take three light fixture. Though there is still good vanity lighting to be found with a small budget, it is always best to use the bulk of the budget in the owner’s suite and powder rooms because these are the rooms people spend the most time in.

Medium Budget

A medium budget has more room for flexibility with other aspects of the lighting process than a small budget. Glass types, frame finish, and unique designs are where the bulk of a medium budget will go. Popular glass types include seedy, hammered, crackled, and patterned glass. Modern stylings like linear light bars are, the majority of the time, integrated with LED diodes which will add to the initial cost of the lighting. You can also afford to splurge more on secondary bathrooms with this budget. A larger budget allows you to create unique designs for each bathroom.

Large Budget

A large budget gives the buyer room to design every bathroom with unique styling and high-quality lighting fixtures. With a larger budget, you can spend more on innovative designs and cutting-edge technology that incorporates a variety of lighting techniques. Popular options associated with larger budgets are pendants, recessed lighting, wall sconces, LED tape, and LED mirrors. These are often used in unison to create a unique and beautiful bathroom ambiance.

Design Types

The available types of designs in bathroom lighting vary greatly. You can find lighting in different sizes, finishes, and glass options. Often you will see multiple different-sized versions of the same vanity light fixture. Light bars can also vary in size and are available in LED integrated options. Other bathroom lighting design types are listed below for clarification. We can recommend where and how each type of light fixture should be installed for best use.

Linear Light Bar

Keep proportional and inside of the vanity (sink) over the mirror. Cutting holes into the mirror will cause an issue down the road if replacing the fixture with a different backplate. Great option for consistent light along a fixed width.

Wall Sconce

Good for placing in hallways, powder rooms, master baths by positioning them on each side of a mirror, or one side depending on the allotted size and space. Modern and chic designs are popular with sconces.Read more in our Wall Sconce Guide

2 Light Bathroom Light

Up to 36 inch vanity.

When installing lights in a bathroom, you have many options concerning the number of lights you wish to have installed. There are many two-light fixture designs that can spice up any bathroom. These are typically used for vanities up to 36 inches.

3 Bathroom Light

36-48 inch vanity

Three light fixtures are very typical in most homes and ligthing projects. Many vanities fall between the 36-48 inch range. Bulb and light count are not always indicators of width, double check your sizes.

4 Bathroom Light

48-72 inch vanity

A 4 light fixture is simply a step up from the 3 light fixture. Typically, a four-light vanity fixture will be installed over a vanity sink that ranges from 48 to 72 inches.

5 Bathroom Light

72+ inch vanity

Finally, a standard 5-light fixture is the most extended option most vendors will carry. Higher light counts like six can be found but are not typical. When working with a vanity that is 72 inches or more 5 lights are mostly used when there is only one centered junction box. Another application is when dealing with a single junction box in a double vanity set up this allows you to fill the gap with as much light and fixture as possible.

How To Install


First off, you’ll want to turn off the power to the area you’re working in. Safety should be the top priority for anyone working with anything electrical and wiring a new light without turning off the power is dangerous.


The first step of installing vanity or bathroom lighting is to ensure that the junction box is placed in coordination with the vanity and the mirror. The junction box can be either above or on each side of the mirror depending on the type of lighting you purchased.


After establishing the location of the junction box, you must remove your existing vanity light, or establish a new spot where you intend to install the new lighting. If it’s a new spot, you will need to prepare the area accordingly.


You will then need to install the mounting plate for the new vanity light. The mounting plate helps make sure that you are setting up your new light properly with your house’s electricity.


You then need to connect all of the wirings in the spot to your new light fixture. This may seem like a daunting job, but most light fixtures will come with a form of instructions to help make the process a little easier.


Then, you need to attach the new light fixture. The process to set up your new fixture will vary depending on what you opted to purchase, but it shouldn’t be too big of a job.


Finally, you need to turn the power back on to the area where you installed your new light. If you did everything right when you flip the switch to turn it on it should light up your bathroom as desired.

Energy Costs

The cost of powering your vanity lights will vary depending on the kind of bulbs you opt to install in your light fixtures, and how many there are. Your socket choice will also have an impact on energy costs.

Socket Base Vs LED Integrated

When it comes to deciding which sockets to opt for you should keep a few things in mind. A socket base is a classic socket that you may be used to seeing. They are empty sockets that allow for bulbs to screw into them. LED integrated light sources are essentially built into a light fixture. The biggest pro of LED integrated lights is that they last a very long time compared to traditional socket bases. This means less bulb changing, and thus less bulb purchasing. However, LED integrated setups are harder to change when they do burn out, even if it takes an extremely long time. LED lights are also the most efficient when it comes to energy costs, as they draw less power than other bulbs. This will ultimately save you money on the energy bill as well.

Socket LED Vs Incandescent

As we established above, LED lights are typically the better choice when it comes to saving money in the long run. But how do they compare to incandescent lights? Ultimately, the answer is the same as above. LED lights are more expensive to install upfront, but because of their long-lasting nature, they will save a buyer money just due to how long they last. Incandescent lights simply can’t keep up. Though they are cheaper to install at the start, they will burn out far more frequently, and are less energy efficient. LED lights will save you money on your energy bills, especially when compared to incandescent lights. The perks of LED lights typically outweigh their cost. The choice is always up to the customer though.

Types of Lights

With a large number of light types to choose from, it may seem overwhelming to select one for your own bathroom. Below are some of the more popular options, and what they are like.

  • Farmhouse- This is any light fixture that hangs from a chain or a cord. They come from cottage-style living.
  • Mid Century- Though this encapsulates many styles, one may think of a globe light fixture when seeing this type.
  • Modern- Modern lighting is meant to incorporate interesting geometry and should be rather unique in some way. It may look complex or sleek.
  • Contemporary- This is almost the opposite of modern. It will utilize smooth surfaces and simple shapes.
  • Transitional- This is the kind of lighting that came about between traditional and contemporary lighting. It combines simple and complex to create something unique.
  • Industrial- This sort of lighting is more practical in nature. These fixtures can be large and reliable, reminiscent of workspaces.
  • Traditional- This type of lighting incorporates intricate design ideas and is meant to look formal.
  • French Country- This design is meant to be rustic and traditional. Lights in this category are meant to feel warm and inviting.
  • Boho Lighting- Fresh and organic lighting another term used for Bohemian
  • Bohemian- This style is meant to look simplistic and rustic and can almost look handmade in nature.
  • Raw Material/ Organic- This style is meant to incorporate raw, or organic materials to make your lighting more eco-friendly, and more natural.


There are no timers, but motion sensors Hands-free options are one thing some home and business owners should think about when picking out their switches. Hands-free lights can be set to turn on, at the entry of the bathroom and turn off when leaving. Another option is the wave switch. Wave switches allow you to trigger it on or off by waving near the switch. You are able to modify the distance of the wave. Ask your lighting professional how you can upgrade your light switches!

Our Favorite Products

Some of our favorite bathroom lighting products are listed below.

Brooke 3-Light Bath

This 3-light fixture is a staple pick of ours due to its sleek and minimalist design. A forged scroll design in a bronze color gives this fixture an elegant look. With a traditional style, this fixture can fit anywhere.

Joelson 3-Light Bath

The 3-light fixture from Joelson is another great pick for many different bathrooms due to its simple, yet sleek design. With retro-inspired sockets and cased opal glass, this fixture looks great, and can light up any bathroom.

3-Light Vanity Bar

The 3-light vanity bar from Trans Globe Imports is another one of our favorites. With three bulbs encased in see-through glass, this fixture is sleek and smooth. With such a simple design this fixture can be installed in many different bathrooms.

Keswick 3-Light Bath Bracket

The 3-light bath bracket from Keswick is another great choice. With three lights encased in glass that are all held by a gooseneck arm, this option is complex but sleek. The light fixture looks almost vintage. With such a design this fixture can find itself in many different kinds of bathrooms.

Commercial and Bulk Options

Are you looking for someone to help you or your company with an upcoming lighting project? Well, look no further than Butler Lighting USA. We offer trade account discounts to contractors, designers, builders, and electricians. We also offer trade pro and B2B discounts to anyone who qualifies and can show proof of their license. Butler can help you get the best supplies for your next project. Contact us today to get a lighting quote.

Why Butler?

We at Butler Lighting have been fulfilling the lighting needs of our customers since 1948. Whether you need lighting for various rooms in your home, a multi-family project, or a restaurant, we can provide whatever lighting that you need. We will work within your budget to get your lighting to a state that you will love. As a family-run business, we put an emphasis on communication and a commitment to hard work. We at Butler work with over 150 vendors and we can handle any lighting job you can throw at us. If you have a lighting job that needs to be finished contact us today, and we’ll take your lighting to the next level.

Bathroom and Vanity FAQs

Choosing the right vanity lights for you is a combination of preference and functionality. When installing these lights in an already finished bathroom you need to try and match the bathroom around it. You also need to identify where your junction box is to determine where you can even install lights. If it’s on the sides of your mirror, you’ll need a wall sconce or a single vanity. If it’s higher up then you’ll need to commit to an over-the-mirror vanity light. You also need to know the size of the vanity. You don’t want to get a fixture that will overpower or underpower the rest of the bathroom.

The size of your vanity light will need to match up with the vanity. You also need to ensure that the wall will not obstruct your vanity light. You also must ensure the width of the fixture is inside of the vanity.

Most lights can go up or down. The appearance of the fixture may not always look the best either way though, that will be up to personal taste. You should also take note of the glass and how it’s designed, and any arms and arches off of the bracket of the fixture. Your lighting designer should help you decide what would be best for you. A light facing up and a light facing down are two very different things.

There is no specific number of lights that there should be on a vanity. Ultimately, you should ensure that the size of whatever vanity lights you are installing is proportional with your vanity and the bathroom.

Ultimately, there is no right answer, it’s up to the person installing it to decide how they want it. 70-80 Candles Per Foot is the recommended amount. Use 70 or 80 and multiply by the square footage of your bathroom. This formula gives you the total number of lumens, 80 on the high side, 70 on the low side for a bathroom. Bathroom lighting can be anywhere between 2700 kelvin and 3500 kelvin (the color). Light output is measured in lumens, and this can vary based on light fixtures and light sources. A dimmer can be installed to adjust the brightness of a given light.

This depends on preference and there are pros and cons with both. Cool light can be too overpowering for people, and sometimes warm light doesn’t produce enough light for others. This is up to preference and there is no right answer when it comes to light temperature.

LED lighting is great for many applications. They save money on the energy bill, and time that you would normally spend replacing them. They also provide more consistent lighting. As of now, they are starting to take over every lighting project.

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The usual kinds of light fixtures you’ll find in a bathroom are recessed lighting, pendants, mini chandeliers, over-mirror lighting, and wall sconces. The kinds of lights you can see in your project will of course all depend on your preference and the amount of money you’re willing to spend.


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