How to handle master bathroom electrical needs - Thoughts requested!


(Darryl) #1

Hello everyone!

Starting next week, I begin the nightmare “first floor renovation”. What I come to this group for though, is thoughts on the electrical going into the bathroom, to help minimize the 17,000 switches…

All in all, I am going to have:
2 vanity lights
1 vent fan with light (above shower)
2 recessed lights (one above Jacuzzi, one possibly above toilet)
1 towel warmer

But, when I look at that, I see:
1 switch for vanity lights
1 switch for vent fan
1 switch for vent fan light
1 switch for recessed lights
1 switch for towel warmer

That seems excessive…for a master bathroom.

I realize I could put a smart outlet at the towel warmer, but what is unfortunate about that, is the towel warmer supports direct wiring, so it wouldn’t require an outlet—just the wire to attach to in the wall. I also realize, I could put a micro controller above the vent, but realize that once the drywall is hung, that becomes impossible to get too, and would eventually die out to some zwave communication issue, or even a hub change. (On a side note, i am going to have an outlet put under my vanity for more LED lights… woo!!! this will be activated by a smart switch though, so no switch to toggle).

Typically, I use GE/Jasco switches. But I can’t say I am a huge fan of a 4-5 switch bank along the wall.

Any thoughts, or how are others handling this?


(Matt) #2

if they are in the same box you can use these. I used them to control ceiling fans and lights that only have one wall switch. As a matter of fact i have a couple extras I would see for what I have in them…

(Dale C) #3

I think your five wall switches will be necessary. However you can save wall space by using Duplex Wall Switches in conjunction with the [Smart Dual Relay] ( like @keltymd recommended and make sure to use the extra capacity gang boxes for your rough-in to give you ample room to install the devices behind the switches.

Don’t forget about the input sensors as well as your control output switches. You might consider having rough-in locations for something like the Aeon Labs Gen5 Z-wave Plus 6-in-1 Multisensor for monitoring motion to control the lights and humidity to control the vents.

(Matt) #4

good advise but I will add one nice thing about these dual relays is you can use standard switches with them so the space issues isnt as bad as trying to shove 2 or 3 or 4 GE switches into one gang box

(Dale C) #5

I think I understand what you are saying… but I am suggesting to use all five wall switches because you want the ability for manual local control as well as automation. You could have 4 switches in a double gang box.

(Matt) #6

the relay can be wired into the line/load for each switch and it has an Aux lead that allows for manual switch triggering


i hesitate on these type of things. What if the smartthings environment is down? We couldn’t turn anything on that had this device doing the switching could we?

(Matt) #8

you can turn those on without ST. It has an Aux wire that manually triggers the relay inside the switch. Same process used by Zwave switches. They work manually (as long as you have power in the house) and work automagicly via ST

(Darryl) #9

Well, this is a bummer.

I could probably get a air vent that has no light, and just put a pot light above the shower, giving it a light. Put the air vent between the shower and bath tub, to vent the humidity over there. That would reduce 1 switch…

Next I can evaluate a wall outlet near the towel warmer… But it just wont look as good. :frowning: But atleast the vent change would still at least put me at 4 switches and not 5…


Remember if you’re in the US all your bathroom outlets will have to be GFCI outlets. There are no Z wave or zigbee GFCI outlets because they have opposite purposes. A GFCI outlet has to be able to cut all power while A networked outlet has to always have some power so they can hear the next “on” network command.

The two ways around this are to use a pocket socket that plugs into the GFCI outlet, or to use a GFCI Cut out further upstream on the circuit if your jurisdiction allows it (most do). But it’s just something to keep in mind.

multigang switches

As far as looks, for multigang switches I really like the adorne momentary buttons which can be combined with Micro relays and give you a lot of options. There are many different styles and colors. @Mike_Maxwell has done a lot with these.

@Navat604 might have some more suggestions. :sunglasses:

(Jimmy) #11

I would combine the vent fan and vent fan light onto one switch and then hardwire the warming rack (assuming it has an on/off switch on it).

(Darryl) #12

Hey @prjct92eh2 : I had thought about that with the towel warmer, but getting to the point where you don’t need to turn it on and off would be nice… But that is a valid option… As for the combined light/fan, if it can sense brightness in the room and not turn on, it would completely make sense to go that route… I will have to look on the market as to what exists. No reason to have the light always turn on… But then again, I have a combo fan/light in my upstairs bathroom, and it drives me crazy that if I want that light, I have a fan running, if I only need the fan, I also have a light that is on.

@JDRoberts : Thanks for the comment, and agree about the GFCI, I would use a plug in socket, which wouldn’t be seen underneath the vanity anyway. As for your multigang switches, I think my only problem with them is that it would be a huge style change to have that one switch set be different than the rest in the house. But will definitely consider it.

Thanks everyone!

(Ray) #13

Consider a GFCI circuit breaker or a GFCI plug at a location where it’s not a focal point since it’s something you must have. I have done many washroom wiring before and one way to deal with multi switches is split up the switches into two different gangboxes and 2 different walls. Usually for main lights and fan. The best location is at the door. It’s personal preference for inside or outside wall close to the door where it’s easily accessible. As for Towel warmer/Jacuzzi/toilet decent light. You can have it behind the opened washroom door. This way you can have all the switches cause once the reno is done. It will be hard to add thing after.
Panasonic Vent fan is very popular and super quiet. Fan/light over shower is not really the way to go these days. you will have very limited option for this combo. I would go with light over shower and one vent for your whole washroom.

(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #14

The GFCI has different requirements based on the state. Some states require every outlet to be one. Whereas my state only requires one GFCI per circlin circuit. So check into that.

Here’s an idea:

Have the vanity lights and 2 recessed lights on one switch. Then use smart bulbs instead of switches.

I wouldn’t even mess with a vent fan/light. The lights are pretty much useless. Just get the fan. Use a smart switch for that.

Not a clue about the towel warmer… Hmmmmm… Ummmm, don’t buy it? ? ?

So, that takes you down to 4 smart bulbs, & one smart switch. Also one or two dumb switches.

I’d use the smart bulbs in the master bath, or at least dimmers. The first time you’re relaxing in that Jacuzzi and the lights are crazy bright, you’ll hate them. But if you can dim them, or simulate a sunset or sunrise… Yeah, we’ll worth the money!

(Darryl) #15

Thanks @bamarayne for the thoughts/suggestions. Not a huge fan of smart bulbs, but I get the jist.

I think I have also agreed that I am going to eliminate the light on the vent/fan. So 2 pot lights (1 above tub, 1 in shower) (on a GE dimmer), 2 vanity lights (on GE Dimmer), 1 vent w/o light. I am torn about just depending on the manual on/off of the towel warmer or not. The reason I need one, is the master bathroom in my house, is notorious for not letting the towels dry out in a timely fashion (Think: Florida High Humidity). The vent will help, but the towel warmer will ensure they stay dry, and is only a few hundred bucks for a basic/well rated model. I am definitely leaning towards a manual on/off. Still need to think that through.

But at least that puts me at 3-4.

Oh happy days…

(Darryl) #16

@bamarayne : Orlando allows one GFCI on the circuit. As long as its the first outlet in the bathroom, everything downstream is covered by it. :slightly_smiling:

(Someday my dog will be automated) #17

If I may suggest, keep the fan on its own circuit and switch, without any lights. I’ve been burned in the past by a wise electrician who tried to “save” switch space and “convenience” for me, by placing lights within the same circuit of the exhaust fan. Trying timers and motion sensor timers for the exhaust fan created a big problem with the lights.

(Darryl) #18

Yeah I was going to use a zwave sensor to detect humidity and turn on the fan through smartthings, we can always manually turn it on at the switch, if needed, so I am not concerned by a few misfires of smartthings.

I’ll bring up that suggestion to the electrician. I have worked with these guys before, and had great success with them, but definitely will bring it up. Appreciate the advise.

(Jimmy) #19

how much current does the towel warmer draw? You could always hard wire it but put a in-wall relay in the junction box. This of course means if SmartThings is down you won’t be able to control it, but this isn’t exactly a critical application.

I also vote for the GFCI breaker. $40-50 and you don’t have to worry about it any more.

(Darryl) #20

Its pretty light weight power. It would be fine on an in-wall relay. I just don’t want to have a junction box somewhere. So, it seems I am leaning to using the existing on/off button, and they can run it in-line to the dedicated wall-outlet circuit.