Bathroom Heat Lamps – Costs, Pros & Cons

Infrared Heat Lamps

An infrared heat lamp is a lamp that uses a special form of incandescent light bulb primarily for the purposes of heat production rather than to generate light. These lamps do produce some light, but most of the energy that they consume is directed towards heating the room.

The incandescent bulb or bulbs in the lamp produce heat by generating infrared light. Normal light bulbs are designed to produce light and the heat they generate is considered to be waste. Conversely, the light bulbs that are used in heat lamps are intended primarily to produce heat, with the light being essentially a waste product.

Ceiling Mounted Bathroom Heat Lamp

Infrared heat lamps are relatively energy efficient so they do not use up too much power. However, they are designed to be used to provide some extra heat in your bathroom when it is needed rather than to be left on for a long time.

It is best to avoid using these lamps as the only source of heating in your bathroom or to rely on them as a source of light as well as for heating.

Ideally, an infrared bathroom heat lamp should be installed with a switch that can be used to control it separately from the lighting in the room, so that they can be used separately, with a heat lamp only being turned on when it is needed.

Heating Your Bathroom

Having plenty of heat in your bathroom can make using your shower or bath far more comfortable. The tiling floors that are common in bathrooms can be very cold, particularly during the winter, and stepping out of a hot shower or bath into cold air can be incredibly uncomfortable. Keeping your bathroom well heated can also help to prevent problems with moisture.

A heat lamp works best when it is used to provide some extra heat whenever it is necessary, such as during cold weather, rather than as the main source of heat in the room. If you leave a powerful heat lamp on for long enough, it will surely heat up your bathroom alright, but there are far more effective heaters that you can use as the main source of heating in a way more energy efficient way.

A heat lamp can provide an instant burst of heat that is ideal during particularly cold weather. Most of the heat will be directed into an area next to the heat lamp, so it is important to position the heat lamp carefully.

A heat lamp will usually be mounted on the ceiling, so it should be placed where it will point down onto the place where you will be standing as you dry yourself off or where you will step out of your bath or shower. A heat lamp will be more effective if you have a smaller bathroom and if the ceiling is lower.

Bulb Types

Modern heat lamps are far more attractive and compact than the unsightly large bulb heat lamps of the past. This is because it has become possible for manufacturers to create light bulbs that are similar to normal light bulbs, but which can also produce infrared radiation to heat the room. These newer heating bulbs provide instant warmth as soon as they are switched on and they are ideal for use in the bathroom environment since they can cope with moisture and splashing. They can also last for a long time, although they may be more expensive.

Heat and Light

Some heat lamps are designed to provide both heat and light from the same fixture since they include different types of bulbs for different purposes. These combined heat lamps and lights can be a neater and more convenient option, particularly if you have a fairly small bathroom. However, it is sensible to ensure that the lamp offers the option of switching each component on and off separately so that you do not have to turn the heater on in order to light your bathroom.


Having adequate ventilation in your bathroom is essential, particularly when you are using a heater in the room. Ventilation can help to prevent steam or any fumes from building up and it can help to prevent any problems with damp in your bathroom.

Many heat lamps are designed to provide some ventilation as well as heating. They come with a fan built into the lamp. In addition to assisting with ventilation, pairing a fan with the heat lamp can help to spread the heat around through the room. This can enable the lamp to heat the whole room rather than creating a single hot spot.

Extra Features

Some heat lamps come with a selection of extra features such as a range of different controls. One useful extra feature that you may want to look for when you are choosing your heat lamp is automatic thermal cutout. This can shut off the heat lamp if it becomes too hot, in order to prevent overheating and the potential damage that it could create.


The power provided by a heat lamp is one of the most important considerations when you are selecting the right lamp for our bathroom. A more powerful heat lamp will be able to produce more heat and to do so more quickly. If you have a small bathroom, then you will not need such a powerful heat lamp.

Larger heat lamps will often be more powerful than smaller ones, particularly if they use multiple bulbs. Most heat lamps come with one, two or four bulbs. A single bulb lamp may be adequate for a small bathroom, but a lamp with four bulbs may be necessary in a larger room or if you require more or faster heating.

The number of bulbs is not the only important factor since different types of bulbs produce different amounts of power, so you should consider the watts produced by the bulbs as well as the number that is present in the lamp.


Some heat lamps can be a lot louder than others. It is worthwhile considering how loud a heat lamp is before you choose which one you want to buy. Relaxing in your bath can be much more difficult when a loud lamp is disturbing your piece, so if you enjoy long, hot baths it can be a good idea to choose a quieter lamp even if you have to pay more.

Aesthetic Considerations

You will want to choose a heat lamp that looks good in your bathroom. There are a wide range of different styles and sizes of heat lamps to choose from so you can find the lamp that best matches the rest of your bathroom decor.


Any electrical device that will be used in the bathroom environment needs to be able to cope with the steam, moisture and water that they may encounter. It is also important that they are installed properly and safely since mixing water and electricity can be dangerous. Bathroom heat lamps are intended to be able to work in a wet environment.


Bathroom heat lamps are designed to cope with the damp bathroom environment. They can generally be expected to last for about five years, although higher quality heat lamps will last longer than lower quality ones.


Ensuring that your heat lamp is properly installed is essential if you want it to work well and to be safe to use. Working with electricity always poses a risk, but it can be particularly dangerous if you are using it in the bathroom since there is likely to be a lot of water and moisture around.

It is possible to install a heat lamp by yourself, but it is generally best to leave the job to a qualified and experienced professional who knows how to install a lamp safely and properly.

Heat lamps are usually installed on the ceiling in a similar way to normal light fittings. Heat lamps need to be installed in the right type of fixture. You cannot simply stick a heat lamp bulb in a normal light fitting since it will not be able to produce the amount of heat that you need.

You should choose the position where your heat lamp will be installed carefully. The lamp should not be positioned too close to any objects such as towel rails or shower rails as these could become overheated.

You should also place the heat lamp where it will provide the most benefit. It should be directed to the place where you will be standing when you will need the heat after you have left your bath or shower.

Retail Prices and Where to Buy

The prices of heat lamps can vary a great deal, from the cheapest lamps with just a single bulb that can be bought for under 10 dollars, to the expensive light fixtures that use multiple bulbs for heating and which also feature a range of other features such as fans, and which can cost hundreds of dollars.

The costs of buying heat lamps have decreased over time, but there are still some expensive versions that are available.

That being said, at Lowe’s or Home Depot, you can pick up a basic infrared heat lamp for about $5.00 to $15.00 depending on the particular bulb.

Other Options

A number of different types of bathroom heaters are available in addition to infrared heat lamps. Wall mounted or freestanding heaters, underfloor heating or radiators can be installed in order to provide a powerful source of heating for your bathroom.

14 thoughts on “Bathroom Heat Lamps – Costs, Pros & Cons

  1. Sandy

    Can you please tell me where to buy this “wide variety” of bathroom heat lamps?

  2. David

    Your link was a total bust. Nothing even close to a infrared heat lamp fixture that can be used in a wet location! I want to install two 250 watt infrared heat lamps in a steam shower so I can pre-heat the granite before starting the steam shower. Do you have some sites that will give me the sealed fixtures that can go in there?

  3. Mr L.Knott

    Please give price of your 4 I.R Lamp bathroom heater & ordering details

  4. Tony

    My bathroom ceiling heat lamp makes a high pitched hum periodically.
    The light is not turned on and will make the noise for a few minutes then stop.
    I unscrewed the bulb while it was squealing & noise didn’t stop.
    Do I have to replace the fixture or is there something else that can be done?

    1. BART

      Sounds like the whole fixture may be loose. Or possibly duct work or something touching the fixture or ceiling.

  5. david grothman

    How do I find a single bulb, ceiling mounted heat lamp fixture that is on a swivel so I can direct it?

    1. Alex Post author

      I saw one at Lowe’s selling for $5.00 for the Red Color, or $10 for the Neutral Color Infrared Heat Bulb / Lamp. You can buy a fixture on Amazon: Broan 161 – Single Bulb Fixture Good Luck!

  6. Murray lustig

    Is it safe to to install a heat lamp bulb in a standard light bulb fixture, such as a highboy bathroom fixture? Thanks.

    1. Bathroom Heaters Guy Post author

      Hi Murray,

      You should only install a heat-lamp in a fixture that was specifically-engineered for it.

  7. Ben

    I have a light/heat/fan unit. The fan works, the heat lamp works but the separate light switch doesn’t turn the lights on.. I don’t want to have the heat lamps on as the only source of light… any ideas?

    1. Bathroom Heaters Guy Post author

      Hi Ben,

      Sounds like it could be a wiring issue, either with the switch or with the heat lamp and light unit. Wiring issues are common in older homes.

      I would recommend having an electrician check out the switch and if switch looks OK, then check out the wiring for the heat fan unit.

      Hope this helps.

      Good Luck!

  8. Lee

    If I purchase a ceiling fixture with a fan, does it have to exhaust to the outdoors? Can I exhaust it right to the attic? Thanks.

    1. Bathroom Heaters Guy Post author

      Always outdoors, even if the path for ductwork has to go through the attic.

      1. Mark

        And when ducting it to the outdoors you should use an insulated duct or insulate the duct so as not to collect condensation should the attic temperature be cool enough for the humidity to form water. Could drain back and cause damage to the ceiling around the lamp.


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