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Types of Lighting and when to use them

Types of Lighting and when to use them

For a great lighting setup, you need to use more than one type of lighting. Combining different types of lighting can help create a welcoming and relaxing space. Three main types of lighting are:

  • Ambient lighting
  • Task lighting
  • Accent lighting

In this post, we will delve deeper into each of them and provide valuable tips to use them intelligently.

Different Types of Lighting

Ambient Lighting

Want to ensure a room has sufficient glow? Create enough light to make moving around safe and comfortable?

If so, you got to use ambient lighting. Also called general lighting, ambient lighting is an important clog in any efficient lighting plan. It not only provides ample glow to an indoor space, but also sets the tone for it. Last but not the least, ambient lighting ensures there’s enough light in a room to see and move around comfortably. In certain situations, you can use ambient lighting as task lighting as well.

Where is ambient lighting used in the home?

Ambient lighting is so called because it provides general illumination for a room and is appropriate for visually undemanding activities, like television viewing or conversation. The following three areas are where you should consider installing ambient lighting:

  • bedroom
  • bathroom
  • living area/open plain kitchen

Depending on the size of a room and its layout, installing a flush-mount fixture or a chandelier on the ceiling in the middle of the room might be enough. Or you may need smaller light sources to work in tandem with a central lighting fixture to provide sufficient general illumination. If you do not want to use a flush-mount fixture or a chandelier, you may need to install several smaller lights to illuminate the space nicely.

Task Lighting

The name says it all. Task lighting is a type of lighting essential for accomplishing a task. Not unsurprisingly then task lighting is localized and often is provided by multiple sources, which makes it easier for someone to adjust the brightness for a particular area or work space and adjust the illumination to better suit their specific needs. Task lighting, as you may have guessed, is a great option for activities such as cooking, reading, crafts, hobbies, work, and studying.

If you are wondering how to select the right kind of task lighting, the following tips will come handy:

  • You can create task lighting using multiple light sources, such as track or recessed lighting, task lamps, and floor lamps
  • A desk or task lamp should be angled down or adjustable so that the light is directed on the task and not toward your eyes
  • Place desk or task lamps to the side of your work since that reduces glare and limits shadows
  • As we get older, we need more light, and our sensitivity to glare increases
  • For efficient task lighting, a light source should provide anywhere between 269 and 1076 lumens
  • The strength of task lighting mainly depends on the type of task you are performing (For example, for reading, task lighting should be bright and direct to allow you to read without straining your eyes. Whereas, for working at a kitchen top, you require bright lighting to ensure you are able to clearly see what you are doing.)

Where is task lighting used in the home?

Some of the areas where task lighting is usually required include:

  • Kitchen – For good coverage of downward light, use pendants. How many would you need? Well, the answer depends on the size of your kitchen and your personal preferences. Having said that, 3-5 pendants a kitchen is the average. For illuminating cabinets, use cabinet bench lighting.
  • Bathrooms – Generally, a low-level wash light for bathrooms is good enough. However, if you frequently use this space for styling and grooming purposes, you will need good task lighting.
  • Bedrooms – For bedrooms, task lighting is generally involved in reading, studying, and getting ready. Alongside bedside lamps, consider using wall lights in your bedroom.

Accent Lighting

Want to create a focal point in a room? Look no further than accent lighting. They are used for adding character and drama to a room and can draw attention to a specific part of the indoor space. You can use task lighting for drawing attention to a painting or another piece of artwork or highlight a decorative coving or a unique design.

How should task lighting be used? You may ask.

Here are some important tips:

  • For adding drama and efficiently drawing the eye, it is important that accent lighting directs three times or more light toward the focal point compared to other parts of the indoor space
  • The accent lighting should draw the focus on the feature or object it is illuminating rather than on how it is being illuminated
  • Such an effect can be usually achieved through wall-mounted fixtures (e.g. angled scones or picture lights) or recessed lighting

Where is accent lighting used in the home?

You can use accent lighting both inside and outside the home for featuring locations like an entrance or creating a dramatic effect. You can create points of visual interest by highlighting textured walls, architectural details, plants, fireplaces, and artwork.


Ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting are three types of lighting used most often. Each one serves a different purpose, so you cannot replace one with another. Depending on how you use a certain indoor space, you might need only one or two of them or all of the three.