There is so much information on the Internet that it can be overwhelming. And it's often misleading because most web pages are selling something so learning how to pick the right types of lights isn't easy.
That's because you first need to understand the three types of lighting and how they support the different ways you use the rooms in your house. Of the four types of lighting, you almost always want to include three of them in every room. Some lighting articles will include a fourth type, called decorative lighting, but it's less crucial to creating a comfortable room.
Three Lighting Layers & Types of Lights for Each
When looking at a well lit room, you can't always tell which light comes from which fixture. Understanding the concept of lighting layers helps explain how different light sources work together.
- Ambient light is the bottom layer that provides overall illumination for a room.
- Accent lighting is the second layer of light, that's used to highlight points of interest in a room.
- Task lighting is the third layer of lighting design that sheds light on activity areas.
Ambient lighting or what's called “general fill light”, is what lights up an entire room so people can easily and safely walk through the space. Often ambient light will bounce off the walls to lighten more space, and while this lighting is uniform, it's also boring.
The types of lights that provide indoor ambient light include:
- Recessed light fixtures (known as cans or high hats) in the ceiling.
- Ceiling mounted light fixtures including chandeliers and sometimes track lights.
Accent lighting focuses on a room feature that homeowners want to emphasize. This might be an architectural feature, a piece of art hanging on a wall or a collection of special objects. Accent lighting can also be used is to create the impression of a bigger room, using three times more light on a small area in contrast to the lighting around it.
Examples of light fixtures used for accent lighting include:
- Track lighting directed to specific areas needing highlighting.
- Uplighting pointing to focus areas.
- Wall mounted lights like sconces that direct their light in one direction.
- Cove lighting using LED rope, installed in ledges, recesses or high on walls.
Task lighting is responsible for projecting sufficient light on the activities people are involved in. From preparing food in the kitchen, to computer work in a home office or reading a book in the family room, task lighting focuses light on the task at hand. Light fixtures that are used for task lighting are most often controlled from a separate switch from the room's ambient light.
The types of lights providing task lighting include:
- Floor, table and portable desk lamps.
- Kitchen cabinet lighting and bathroom vanity lights.
- Pendant lighting common over kitchen islands.
We've got lots more articles to help you solve lighting challenges throughout your home. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Surprising Ways LEDs are Changing Lighting
- Kitchen Lighting Key to Good Kitchen Design
- Outdoor Home Decor with Creative Lighting
- More Lighting with Creative Solutions