Bright Ideas

3 Basic Types of Lighting & When To Use Them

Proper lighting can have a significant impact on how you feel in a space, and each space may call for a variety of different lighting requirements. A good lighting setup combines different kinds of lighting to create a welcoming space where you can easily work or relax. There are three basic types of lighting you should layer in a room in order to accomplish this:

  • Ambient or general lighting
  • Accent lighting
  • Task lighting

Let’s take a better look at these different types:

Ambient/General Lighting

Ambient or general lighting is a necessary part of any good lighting plan because it provides an overall glow to a room. In addition to setting the tone for the space, ambient lighting creates enough light for you to see and move around comfortably and safely. In some cases, it can also double as task lighting.

ambient general lighting

Ambient lighting is usually created using overhead fixtures like recessed pot lights, track lights, chandeliers and other ceiling lamps, or stand alone fixtures like floor and table lamps.

For a welcoming look and feel, opt for LEDs with a warmer colour temperature. Browse our selection:

Accent Lighting

By design, accent lighting creates a focal point. It builds upon the ambient lighting of a room by adding dimension, and can be used to draw attention to a feature, like a piece of artwork or a plant, or to highlight a unique design element, like wall texture or decorative coving.

accent lighting

To add drama and effectively draw the eye, accent lighting should direct at least three times as much light towards the focal point compared to the rest of the room. When done well, accent lighting draws your attention to the object or feature without drawing your attention to how it’s being lit. This is usually accomplished through track and recessed lighting or wall-mounted fixtures, like picture lights and sconces, which can be angled and directed to create a spotlight.

When lighting artwork, it’s best to use LEDs. They don’t emit UV light and give off almost no heat, ensuring your painting or photography doesn’t get damaged over time. Browse our selection of LEDs to find a bulb that will safely light your artwork.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is intended to help you accomplish – you guessed it – a task! This type of lighting is localized and can be provided by a variety of different sources, allowing you the option to adjust the lighting for a work space or chosen area and brighten or darken it in order to suit your needs. Effective task lighting needs to reduce glare and should be bright enough to prevent eye strain, making it ideal for activities like, reading, cooking, crafts and hobbies, studying and work.

task lighting

There are a variety of factors that go into selecting the right task lighting, including what activity or work you need it for, and even your age. As a person gets older, they require more light and become more sensitive to glare, making good quality task lighting even more important. Depending on these factors, a good task light should provide about 269 to 1076 lumens, or 40 to 100 watts, to a workspace.

Task lighting can be created using a variety of light sources, including overhead sources like recessed or track lighting, as well as desk or task lamps. Task lamps should be adjustable or angled down to keep the light on the task and out of your eyes. They should also be placed to the side of your work to reduce glare and limit shadows.

Halogen bulbs work well for task lighting because they produce a white light similar to daylight and use less energy than incandescent bulbs. Find a halogen bulb.

LED bulbs are another good choice because they produce a direct, bright light that won’t get hot when you’re working for long periods of time. Shop our selection of LED and LED filament bulbs.

Lighten Up

Whether you’re lighting your bedroom or your office, incorporating all three types of lighting into your lighting scheme can help you create the ideal space in every room.

For more information about lumens and watts, take a look at our conversion chart.

To learn more about beam angles, check out our interactive guide.

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