There are various different light fixtures that can be present in a bathroom, but what isn’t so common or noticeable is a red light. The red light can either be a small LED light, or a red light that is powerful enough to illuminate the whole room. In this article, I will explain why a red light can be present on a bathroom ceiling and what it’s for.
In general, it is an occupancy sensor, a heat lamp, or an emergency light indicator. Some bathrooms have a sensor, if a person enters a bathroom it turns the lights on. There are also red heat lamp bulbs that give off a red light, and emergency lights have a red LED light to show where they are.
Without a few more details about what the light looks it’s not possible to know for sure what it is, however, below are what the different red lights look like. That way you can identify what the red light in your bathroom is. After that, I will explain the difference between red bulb heat lamps, and clear bulb heat lamps.
What Is the Red Light in a Bathroom For
There are many bathrooms that do not have a visible red light anywhere, and the bathroom works perfectly fine. However, a red light in a bathroom does serve a purpose. Here’s what a red light in a bathroom is for, and how to identify which of the 3 things the red light could be.
Overall, it is one of three things, either an occupancy sensor, an emergency light indicator, or a red bulb heat lamp. An occupancy sensor, and emergency light sensor are the most common, as red bulb heat lamps are rarely used. Below are details on how to tell which of the three it is.
Here’s a description of what each of the red lights look like.
Red LED Light Occupancy Sensor
A red LED light occupancy sensor is more common in public bathrooms, and very modern bathrooms. The red light is where a sensor is. It will sometimes flash if you move past it. Or, it can be always on.
When you walk into the bathroom it detects that you are in the room, and then turns the lights on. One drawback is that if you are stationary for a few minutes, for example, you are taking a poop, it won’t detect that you are in the bathroom.
It will then shut off the lights, and you will need to wave your arms or something similar to get the lights to come back on. You can tell if it’s one of these, if the lights turn on and off automatically.
Red Emergency Light Indicator (for When the Power Goes Out)
Some bathrooms have emergency lights. These are battery powered. If the power goes out, these lights can be turned on using a different switch. It’s much more handy than using a flashlight or lighting some candles. The red light indicates that the emergency lights have power.
Next to the red LED light is typically a small button. If it has this small button you can test them. To do that you turn off the lights in the bathroom, and then press the small button. If they are emergency lights the button will turn the lights on.
Red Heat Lamp or Bulb (less common)
Some heat lamps are red in color, or the bulbs are red. As you may know, a heat lamp is a large bulb that is warm. They are used in bathrooms so that when you get out of the shower you don’t feel cold. They also warm up the floor so it doesn’t feel cold.
While less common, it’s possible this is what the red light is. The primary use of a red bulbed heat lamp is for a bathroom that has an ensuite bathroom. As you may know, an ensuite bathroom is a bathroom that is located inside a bedroom.
A bedroom with an ensuite bathroom can be used by two people. Therefore, if a person gets up at night to use the bathroom the light from the heat lamp can be disturbing to the other person sleeping and wake them up. Therefore, a softer red light is better.
But, many bathrooms have two switches. One for the lights, and one for the heat lamp. Therefore, it’s less necessary to have a red bulb heat lamp.
Other than a red heat lamp bulb it’s also possible to buy many different colored regular bulbs from department stores. For example, you can get blue, green, and red light bulbs.
These are the same as a regular light bulb but have a layer of colored plastic like material over the glass, that makes them give off colored light rather than white/yellow light.
It’s possible someone simply installed a red colored light bulb because they wanted to. Because, why not!
Why Is There a Heat Lamp in a Bathroom
Many bathrooms don’t have heat lamps, but they are reasonably common. A heat lamp has a very large bulb, and is very warm overhead. Here is the reason why some people decide to install a heat lamp in their bathroom.
A heat lamp warms your body when you get out of the shower, and also warms the ground, which is especially helpful in cold weather, and cold climates. If positioned above a mirror it also stops the mirror from fogging up.
Heat lamps do use a significant amount of power. Therefore, they shouldn’t be left on, and shouldn’t be turned on unless you want the benefits of the heat lamp.
What Is the Difference Between a Red Heat Lamp and Clear Heat Lamp
There are two main types of heat lamps according to Bulbs.com. Yellow light heat lamps. that are either clear or frosted. are more common, however, there are also red heat lamps.
It’s not immediately obvious why some heat lamps are red, so this is the difference between a red heat lamp and a clear heat lamp.
Overall, red heat lamps are ideally suited to ensuite bathrooms. But, functionally a red or clear heat lamp provide the same heat. It’s common for two people to sleep in a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. So, the light of the heat lamp won’t disturb the other person as much if they are sleeping.
Which type of bulb you get is a matter of personal preference. If a bathroom is not an ensuite bathroom, or you are the only person who sleeps in a bedroom with an ensuite bathroom, then a clear or frosted bulb is best. Otherwise, there is not much point in getting a red heat lamp bulb.
Amos Christen graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Drexel University — Philadelphia, PA. Since 2003, Amos has worked with top interior design professionals in this area, including architects and interior/graphic/lighting designers. As a skilled interior designer, Amos Christen is highly versed in fine arts and crafts and uses that to supplement his main area of expertise. He often publishes articles related to home décor on several websites, including Sprucetoilets.com, Sprucebathroom.com, and Mybesuitedhome.com. He also contributes to leading interior design magazines.