bathroom + electrical sockets. how?

(35 Posts)
MousyMouse Wed 02-Jan-13 16:17:13

we are planning to redo our bathroom.
we really would like to have electrical sockets so that we can use the hairdryer in the bathroom as well as hairclippers/charging toothbrushes etc.
my parents are in a different country and have a row of sockets near the sink (about 50cm away), which would be ideal.

QOD Wed 02-Jan-13 16:21:03

You can't! We have this for a reason you know.

You can get ones for low voltage stuff, like shavers and tooth brushes, but you'd have to be insane to have 240watt hair dryer in a bathroom. One drop in the bath, sink or bog and you'll be dead...

Don't forget, most other countries have 110volt

QOD Wed 02-Jan-13 16:21:44

You could out them in yourselves, an electrician wouldn't, and you can't sell a property, or rent out a property with them.

QOD Wed 02-Jan-13 16:22:19

My mum and dad have a hair drier fitted thingy in their bathroom, like a hotel one.

MousyMouse Wed 02-Jan-13 16:25:59

Don't forget, most other countries have 110volt

in almost every european country they have 240 just like in the uk and sockets in bathrooms. so it must be possible?

QOD Wed 02-Jan-13 16:52:24

Its possible .... It's not LEGAL

The installation of electrical devices in bathrooms and shower rooms is regulated in Section 701 of BS 7671:2008, and Part P of the Building Regulations. For such rooms, four special zones are defined,[4] in which additional protection is required for electrical facilities:
Zone 0 is the smallest cuboid volume that contains the bath, shower basin, etc..
Zone 1 is the area above Zone 0, up to a height of 2.25 m above the floor.
Zone 2 is the area above Zone 1 up to a height of 3 m, as well as the area that is horizontally within 0.6 m from Zone 1.
Older regulations defined Zone 3 as the area above Zone 2 up to a height of 3 m, as well as the area that is horizontally within 2.4 m from Zone 2; from BS7671:2008, this is replaced by the term 'outside the zones'. This includes any space under the bath or shower that can only be accessed with a tool.{ref bs7671:2008}
Within Zone 0, no devices are allowed apart from suitable equipment and or insulated pull cords. In Zone 1, only separated extra low voltage (SELV) devices are permitted. Any AC transformer supplying such a device must be located outside Zones 0–2. The minimum required ingress protection rating in Zone 0 is IPX7 and IPX4 in Zone 1 and 2. If water jets are likely to occur, at least IPX5 is required in Zone 1–3. Otherwise, in Zone 3 and beyond, an ingress protection rating of IP20 is the minimum required. Equipment in Zones 1 and 2 must be protected by a 30 mA residual current device (RCD).
Shaving sockets (with isolating transformer) are permitted in Zone 2 if direct spray from a shower is unlikely, even if they are only IP20. Before the 2008 regulations, such shaving sockets were the only sockets permitted in a bathroom or shower room. Since BS7671:2008 normal domestic sockets are permitted, at distances greater than 3 m from the edge of the zones, providing the circuit is RCD protected. As the new regulations also require all general purpose sockets not for use by skilled or instructed persons to be RCD protected, this effectively permits normal wiring in the larger bathroom. (Earlier British wiring rules in bathrooms used to be far more restrictive, leading to British peculiarities in bathrooms such as the use of cord switches. The 2001 edition of the Wiring Regulations is more flexible now, placing restrictions on bathroom installations that are now more similar to those in other European countries. )"

MousyMouse Wed 02-Jan-13 17:02:44

hmm, so in a really big bathroom it would be legal...
thank you, this is the kind of text I was looking for (and could only find american regs for some reason.
so will look for installed hairdryers as well.
my parents are always very huffy that they can't use their hairdryer and shaver in the bathroom on visits. I sort of got used to it but was hoping we could change it when re-doing the bathroom.

PigletJohn Wed 02-Jan-13 17:10:25

Or to summarise:

you can almost certainly have a "shaver socket" which for UK bathrooms, is a low-power item with an isolating transformer that makes it quite difficult to get a fatal shock. You can charge your shaver or toothbrush from it, it has a small 2-pin socket for those appliances. A shaver socket which is not designed for bathroom use will be much cheaper and lighter, but not safe in a bathroom.

You can have an ordinary electrical socket if it is at least three metres from the footprint of any fixed bath or shower. Most UK bathrooms are not big enough for that.

A room which does not contain a fixed bath or shower is not a bathroom, despite what our American friends call a lavatory, so you can have sockets in it if you want to.

Any electrical equipment must be suitable for where it is, so it would not be acceptable to have sockets or switches where they might get dripped sprayed or squirted, unless they are waterproof, even outside a bathroom.

bureni Wed 02-Jan-13 22:48:27

Do NOT put an 240v electrical outlet in a bathroom even if the regs allow it, you have no idea who might come along next and plug an electric fire or something as dangerous into the readily available socket taking the fire outside the so called safe zone or plugging in an extension lead . This is one 17th edition IEE reg that needs changed right away imo. You can use 110volt low current outlets ( shaver points) provided the supply is provided through a 30mA RCD, other than that just forget about it.

MousyMouse Wed 02-Jan-13 22:58:43

but really, if people in france, belgium, netherlands, germany, poland, etc can be trusted with 'proper' sockets in bathrooms why not here? <sorry for the rant>

PigletJohn Wed 02-Jan-13 23:15:51

Possibly historical reasons. Some continental countries (certainly Germany) have had electromechanical RCDs in widespread use for a very long time, which reduce the numbers of deaths by electrocution. Some continental countries (certainly France) used to have lower voltage than most of the UK, which also cuts the number of deaths.

Each country has had its own standards which develop over many years experience and assessment of risk and cost. You have to decide what is an acceptable number of deaths by accidental electrocution.

I have sometimes seen shocking electrical installations in other countries.

BTW RCDs need to be operated using the "Test" button at least quarterly, preferably monthly. The number that fail to operate in an emergency increases dramatically if they have seized or jammed through disuse, and if not tested, the householder will not be aware this has happened.

viktoria Sun 06-Jan-13 19:43:15

Totally agree with you, Mouse. It seems ridiculous that sockets can't be fitted in a bathroom. We have a small en suite shower rooms and got round this problem by having sockets fitted right outside the door. Works in an ensuite, but not so ideal in another type of bathroom.

MousyMouse Fri 01-Mar-13 13:55:10

we are now (hopefully) getting around this problem by having a hairdryer installed directly into the wall.
at least the electrician said it would be possible and legal if the lead is not too long. have also looked at the hotel/gym style fixed hairdryers but most of them are ugly.

botandhothered Fri 01-Mar-13 14:16:18

Agree it seems silly that the Brits are deemed not to be trusted to use electrical appliances in the bathroom, when the rest of europe can!
I live in Spain and love the convenience of using a hairdryer and straighteners in the bathroom. It's all about common sense.

PigletJohn Fri 01-Mar-13 14:52:05

You have to decide what is an acceptable number of deaths by accidental electrocution.

botandhothered Fri 01-Mar-13 15:08:35

I don't know Pigletjohn, isn't that a little like saying cars are potentially dangerous, so we should ban them?
I hear of more people drowning here than being electrocuted, yet they haven't banned pools....
Everything carries a risk. Would be interesting to see if death by electrocution in other european countries is higher than the UK.

PigletJohn Fri 01-Mar-13 19:32:59

I don't know any politician who would say "I propose we change the law to make it more convenient fot hotandbothered to use her hairdrier"

What would the papers say next time someone was electrocuted in their bathroom?

Sockets are, in fact, permissible in a room which contains a fixed bath or shower, but they have to be three metres from the footprint of the bath or shower, which in most UK bathrooms is not practical. The WC and basin positions are not relevant to this rule.

botandhothered Fri 01-Mar-13 21:14:26

True, pigletjohn, it would be difficult, and seem a little absurd for them to change the law now!
Though I would love to see it debated the way you described in the House of Commons wink

jaynebxl Fri 01-Mar-13 23:21:50

Having lived in France and Belgium and seen the standard of health and safety that exists in these two countries I'd say the reason it is illegal here is because we are more realistic about health and safety! I think this is the reason we have the earthed 3 pin sockets but they still have the 2 pin type.

NatureAbhorsAHoover Sat 02-Mar-13 16:00:43

The UK laws are mad. Pretty much every other civilised country in the world (incl Australia/NZ) is on 240v and has sockets galore in every bathroom - and yet somehow, SOMEHOW miraculously we manage not to kill ourselves on a daily basis. For heaven's sake hmm

specialsubject Sat 02-Mar-13 17:05:08

why use a hairdryer in a bathroom, which will be steamy from the shower and so it will take much longer to dry hair?

shaver does make sense, and is fine with the special sockets.

Australia and NZ do indeed have sockets in the bathroom, and 240V supply. But that's on the other side of the planet.

PigletJohn Sat 02-Mar-13 18:44:18

Some foreigners drive on the wrong side of the road, too. Hardly any of them have our splendid fused plug system.

botandhothered Sat 02-Mar-13 20:07:06

Pigletjohn, where are the fuses?
Do you know?
I have some appliances that I thought needed the fuse changing, only to find on dismantling the plugs there is no fuse! Must I get an electrician in?
Can you solve this mystery for me?

PigletJohn Sat 02-Mar-13 20:21:16

all square-pin UK BS1363plugs have a fuse in them. part 5

unless it has been taken out.

PigletJohn Sat 02-Mar-13 20:25:16

in some cases the fuse is accessed through the underside of the plug.

botandhothered Sat 02-Mar-13 20:29:40

Sorry, Pigletjohn, I am in Spain. They are spanish appliances, maybe they don't have fuses here at all?
I thought I would have to dismantle the whole appliance to find it? Defo not in the plugs here!confused

MousyMouse Sat 02-Mar-13 20:49:01

no, in non-uk plugs are no extra fuses in the plug afaik.

botandhothered Sat 02-Mar-13 21:12:45

Mousy, thanks. Does that mean that the appliance itself has a fuse inside it somewhere?

MousyMouse Sat 02-Mar-13 21:13:52

no idea
I would hope so.

PigletJohn Sat 02-Mar-13 21:22:39

UK domestic wiring design is to a different method to (almost any) other country.

It enables high-power appliances to be used in an unlimited number of positions in the home (though not all at the same time) and there is a fuse in the plug to prevent the dangers that might occur if high power was made available to an appliance that was not designed to handle it, in the event of a fault occurring. One of the features of this approach is that a table lamp can be safely fused at 3Amp (720 Watts) and the same socket can also safely supply a tumble drier fused at 13Amp (3120 Watts) and in either case the fuse will blow in the event of a fault in the appliance or its flex which causes an overcurrent severely exceeding its design load . This reduces the risk of, for example, a fire if the economical thin flex of the table lamp or radio might be damaged, whereas the flex of a large appliance is made thicker to carry its greater design current. The circuit itself is capable of safely carrying more power than the largest domestic appliance will use.

The design of the circuit is also different, and means that voltage drop in distant parts of the house is reduced (so for example lamps are less prone to dim, especially if large appliances are simultaneously run off the same circuit).

The UK plug is rather big.

PigletJohn Sat 02-Mar-13 21:30:06

Appliances generally do not have fuses inside them. Outside the UK, fault protection depends on the fuse or circuit breaker of the circuit. This might, for example, be 20Amps, so a current considerably exceeeding this would need to occur if a fault condition was to blow or trip the whole circuit. In my example of the table lamp with a damaged flex, the circuit would probably not trip and the flex would probably spark and fizz until it burned away. It would have more chance to start a fire.

It is more difficult to balance the competing needs of (large) current availability and (close) overcurrent protection in this way; this was one of the many problems that the UK standard addressed when it was introduced in 1947. The previous UK system used to have separate circuits for large, medium and small-load appliances, each fused differently, and each with different sized plugs and sockets within the house. This was inconvenient.

MousyMouse Sat 02-Mar-13 21:35:43

thank you so much pigletjohn for these explanations!
I find some of the regulations hard to understand but some absolutely make sense. we are just trying to work with what is possible and legal.

botandhothered Sat 02-Mar-13 22:12:32

Thankyou Pigletjohn!

NatureAbhorsAHoover Sun 03-Mar-13 17:50:45

why use a hairdryer in a bathroom

Are you kidding? Where else would you want to use it?

Bizarre UK idea that you would want to blast your hairs around your bedroom, where they collect on your clothes and bed. You are meant to perform this task in the BATHROOM, a room designed for personal grooming and easy cleaning.

MousyMouse Fri 20-Sep-13 21:20:42

we now have a shiny new bathroom with a hairdryer.
it turned out that the only legal way was to go for a hotel hairdryer a bit like this
it's fab!

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