Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
An electrical or junction box is one feature every electrical connection in a home must have. It’s part of the electrical code for safety when dealing with cables and connections that every responsible homeowner should comply with. However, with vanity lights, you might want to ask: do they need an electrical box?
Vanity lights need an electrical box to safely house all the wires that connect to the bathroom’s lighting fixture. Also, it’s against electrical codes to use any lighting fixture without an electrical box unless the lighting fixture has one.
Continue reading to learn more about using an electrical box for your vanity lights.
Why Do Vanity Lights Need an Electrical Box?
Vanity lights need an electrical box since they involve numerous wires that connect to the fixtures to power the bulbs. Also, their various aesthetic designs and shapes didn’t make any provision for an enclosure to contain their wires.
Very few lighting fixtures will have a complete casing to house their connections. If yours doesn’t have a junction box, you’ll be looking to install one before you can use it.
What Are Vanity Lights?
Vanity lights are simply bathroom lighting fixtures you can install above your bathroom’s mirror or any other prominent area in the bathroom’s vanity.
These lights are fit for any design aesthetic since you can choose from many different styles to suit your needs.
They are essential bathroom fixtures to provide lighting for tasks like facial and body care. So, don’t expect them to provide whole-bathroom illumination, but make provisions for alternative light sources, including natural light.
What Are Electrical Boxes and Their Functions?
Junction or electrical boxes are special boxes that provide a safe enclosure for all the wires used in an electrical connection.
The box provides an extra safety measure and makes tangled wires look a bit more put together. The enclosure also protects vulnerable parts of the wires from environmental elements that may cause them to degrade.
These boxes are made of metals or plastics and are installed on walls or ceilings. With a junction box, you can protect yourself and your family members from the risk of electrocution due to exposed wires.
The functions of a junction box include:
- To protect wires leading to an electrical device from physical and environmental damage
- To protect humans from accidental contact with the dangerous parts of the connection, like live wires and terminals
- Provides a secure location for the wires in the event of a fire disaster
Electrical Devices That Do Not Require a Junction Box
Not every electrical device will need a junction box. Some electrical devices have integrated junction boxes that provide a secure enclosure for their electrical components. These devices are easy to install because you can mount them anywhere.
If an electrical device has no wires protruding and doesn’t look like it needs containment within a box, it probably doesn’t need one. That said, if you’ve got small children or hyperactive pets around who love to chew things, you may want to get one anyway. The only wire that extends out of the device will be the one going to the electric mains.
Baseboard heaters are a good example of an electrical device that doesn’t require a junction box.
What if the Vanity Light Has Its Own Junction Box?
Some vanity lights will have a junction box depending on their design and the requirements within a region.
In Canada, for example, most vanity light fixtures are the same as the junction box since the requirement for safety is that the wiring should be in an enclosed metal box. So, the light fixture passes for an enclosed box.
However, If you have any lighting fixtures that do not need a box for installation, but the wirings are naked, you’ll need an electrical box.
Do You Still Need an Electrical Box if There’s an Existing One?
You can connect a lighting fixture like your vanity lights to an existing junction box if the space available in the box can accommodate more wires. Hence, it would be needless to get a new box.
If there’s no existing electrical box, you’ll have to create one or get a new one. Alternatively, consult an electrician to survey your existing connections and new lighting fixtures to provide a professional solution.
Can You Use a Pancake Box as a Junction Box for Vanity Light?
Pancake boxes are smaller versions of electrical boxes. They have less capacity to hold large sets of wires, so bear this in mind when deciding if you can use one instead of a junction box. You can use them for your vanity lights if the fixture is small enough to fit.
What To Do if You Don’t Have a Junction Box?
If you have a device that requires a junction box but didn’t come with one, you can do either of two things:
- Make a junction box for it by boring holes into the wall and clipping the wires with the cable clamp.
- Purchase a junction box from any electrical parts store for around $20 and install it.
The second option is better as it provides overall protection for your connection. The good news is that most junction boxes won’t require you to break your walls for installation. If you own a drill, it shouldn’t be too difficult to install, and if you’re good with DIY, it won’t take long at all
A vanity light fixture will require an electrical box to accommodate its electrical connections safely. Sometimes, an electrical box is absent in the bathroom, and you must purchase a new one for installation. Other times, you can integrate the wires with the existing electrical box.
In all you do, never use any lighting fixture without a junction box. Doing such goes against the electrical codes. It’s also risky to expose terminals and live wires to human contact. Also, if you are not confident about DIYs, a professional electrician is one call away.
- Homeblog: What Box Do You Use for Vanity Lights
- Hunker.com: How to Install a Light Fixture If There’s No Electrical Box
- DIYQuickly.com: How to Install Vanity Lights Without Junction Box
- The Spruce: 11 Types of Electrical Boxes and How to Choose One
- Shades of Light: How to Find the Best Bathroom Vanity Lighting
- Frye: What Is a Junction Box?
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