I am putting a new bathroom light and fan combo in my bathroom. I already have a light above the mirror of the bathroom that provides light for the rest of the area.
However the fan/light combo I hope / want to be above the shower / bath area as its very dark without the bathroom light. The bathroom is an odd shape, kinda like the number 4 flipped.
Rough sketch using Excel below, I tried to label things to get a general idea. There is little I can do about the layout of the bathroom, though the picture is roughly to scale.

What my question is, is possibly a couple things. Based on the layout and potential placement, is this "ok" to place a fan/light combo there? I am not asking for building code, which varies and has some general exceptions. My question is if people have found any issues with fan/light combos within the shower/bath area? Should this be on a GFCI? What additional things should I put there to make sure there is no issues with moisture and the electric (the building code mentioned something, but it didn't make sense to me and I have never heard of that)?

Some notes about the layout....

  • 11ft ceilings (except above toilet - slope to match stairs going from 4 to 11ft)
  • Red Circle = Potential Fan/Light placement
  • S = Sink w/ mirror and lights
  • Cl (orange) = Built in closet / storage area
  • WC = Water Closet / Toilet (Green Circle)
  • W = Glass Block Window in the shower/bath area
  • The yellow highlighted area is lights in/on the wall with a mirror and the sink
  • Opposite of the yellow lights at the bottom is where the door is to enter, and the toilet
  • where the door is, is where the toilet is
  • The wall behind the toilet has stairs

rough layout

  • I would run this layout by your AHJ and make sure they're going to be ok with it. I see some potential building code issues with the toilet/door relationship... Apr 10, 2018 at 14:33
  • What is an AHJ? Sorry.... The Toilet/door relationship was approved by a building inspector before I bought the house about 20 years ago.
    – Keith
    Apr 10, 2018 at 14:38
  • "authority having jurisdiction" / inspector / permit issuer. Apr 10, 2018 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


NEC 2014 - 410.10 (D) outlaws certain types of luminaires in the bathtub and shower areas, but your fan/light combo is not included in that list. That bathtub/shower area, by the way is defined as 3-feet horizontal and 8-feet vertical from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold. So, with 11-foot ceilings you've got a lot of latitude (more than most people are blessed with) for hanging fixtures in this area. Probably a good idea if your unit is marked suitable for use in wet or damp locations. GFCI protection for luminaires in bathtub/shower is only required where installation instructions specify it. And, I believe, most manufacturers of the fan/light combo's I have installed do call for it. By the way, I just double checked and the code was the same in NEC 2011 and hasn't changed in the 2017.

  • 1
    Thank you! This was very helpful. I do have alot of leeway regarding this, especially with such a large area and high cielings. It might be a little less for the dimensions, but 3x8 is rough (maybe 3x7), but cielings are a minimum 11ft. Where I am looking to put the light fixture is also towards the opposite end of the tub/shower area from the water and drain. So it would be closer to the bottom and the showerhead and drain are at the top of the diagram.
    – Keith
    Apr 10, 2018 at 16:08
  • 1
    Thank you for referencing the code and checking on that. That is a great help. Its also better to know your experience. I checked the manufacturer of the fixture and they said that the GFCI is "optional" but not required....perhaps I should look at a better one?
    – Keith
    Apr 10, 2018 at 16:12
  • The code just says it has to be marked for damp or wet locations if subject to shower spray, so I guess it would be your call. As for GFCI, your unit is probably just fine. I wouldn't worry too much about GFCI, unless your lightswitch/fan control is located where you'd be often standing in water when reaching for it. If you look on the package again, more probable than not it is also marked suitable for use in at least damp locations. Apr 10, 2018 at 16:45
  • Thank you again, that is great information....to add to this, I thought in the local building code or possibly somewhere else, I read about adding something to the unit (possibly a seal or gasket or something) to help prevent the unit from getting moisture. Do you know anything about that or have you heard of something like that?
    – Keith
    Apr 10, 2018 at 17:07
  • Our city recently adopted new energy codes that required gasketed fittings on all luminaires, etc. between certain levels, but that again was to prevent air movement between conditioned spaces and non-conditioned spaces. I do not think a gasket would prevent moisture from entering your fan/light as it is designed to pull moistened air through it anyway. You could add weather stripping or caulk around the fixture to seal against conduction losses if you want. I believe it would not hurt or hamper your installation and is probably a good idea. Apr 10, 2018 at 17:30

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