Why is There a Red Light in the Bathroom Ceiling? (Explained!)

Updated: | Author: Brad Javernick | Affiliate links may be present.

Contrary to what you may believe, the red light in the occasional bathroom is not for emergency assistance. No alarm will sound for a red light.

Red lights in bathroom ceilings are used for heat, to help dry the room, stress relief, comfort, and to encourage drowsiness. Today, red lights are mostly seen in hotel bathrooms. Infrared light in the bathroom gives off heat and penetrates past the surface of the skin.

There is a slight wavelength difference between red light and infrared light. Red light is visible and only touches the surface of the skin. Infrared is invisible, penetrating up to 1.5 inches into the body.

What is the Red Light?

Warm and Easy on the Eyes

Red lights started being used in bathrooms because it doesn’t affect your night vision. It’s easy to see and gentle on your eyes, encouraging you to stay drowsy when using the toilet at 3:00 am.

The red light used to be placed in home bathrooms, but that became less common, leaving them to be found mostly in hotels.

It also gives a comforting heat that can’t be underestimated. It is extremely pleasant to have a bulb that helps dry and warm the (normally very cold) bathroom.

Romantic and Stress-Relieving

The color red is associated with feelings of safety and comfort. It is associated with stress relief and relaxation.

Studies show that red light increases blood flow to the brain, taking away tension.

Red is passionate and romantic. Combine that with the warmth and increased blood flow, things are sure to get going outside the bathroom!


It can be used for skin and muscle therapy!

This wavelength range is beneficial to the skin, muscle tissue, and other parts of your body. A therapy known as Red Light Therapy (RLT) helps people with wrinkles, scars, redness, or acne.

Infrared Light

Near-infrared (NIR) is beside red light on the electromagnetic spectrum. Contrary to red light, infrared is invisible. It is helpful for healing muscle tissue.

Infrared lights aren’t placed in bathrooms for light. They may be placed in the bathroom for their heating and comfort qualities.

If you can see a red light, it is on the visible spectrum. Infrared is on the electromagnetic spectrum, which makes it invisible.


Hotels are budgeting for the best profit margin, which means you will probably find a red LED light in the bathroom.

Traditional incandescent bulbs use anywhere between 25 to 100 watts, while LED uses much less.

A red LED bulb is a great choice because it uses very low wattage while providing heat, comfort, and night vision!

Downsides and Other Options

You might be wondering if there are any downsides to having a red light in your bathroom.

While the red light is great for keeping you drowsy in the middle of the night, it isn’t a very bright light for personal care.

Hotels will often supply their visitors with both traditional and red lights. Brighter lights help to see things clearly without obstruction.

If you prefer to have a different light but don’t want to be shivering, I recommend an infrared heater.

If you want to remain drowsy, it may be possible to add a dimmer switch/cord in your bathroom.


The red light in bathrooms is helpful and nice to use. The color red encourages relaxation and romance.

It provides direct heat, helping to dry condensation and you. The warmth and red color is very comfortable in a room that could be cold and bright. It’s a soft light to keep you sleepy, so you can go back to bed!

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About Brad Javernick

Brad is a licensed home inspector and the editor of Home Oomph. He's a massive DIYer, and loves to take on new home renovation projects!

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