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Types of Lighting

This article explains the various types of lighting. After reading this article, you will be much better prepared to light your home according to your own personal preferences and interests, and be able to choose the correct lights to produce the effects you desire.

It is important to understand that lighting is one of the most important features of a home: it can make a room look bigger or smaller; modern or aged; fresh or stale. Well designed lighting can transform a room and provide beauty and style. On the other hand, badly designed lighting can cause discomfort and bad contrast. Lighting is one of the most important factors to determining mood in your home, and as such we recommend that you take it very seriously.

Lighting can be broadly separated into three types:
1. Ambient Lighting
2. Task Lighting
3. Accent Lighting

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting (also known as general lighting) provides uniform illumination across the room. The effect you are trying to produce is to create lighting without an obvious source. Every room should have a central point of ambient light, which needs to be soft and fill the entire room. Overtly bright lights should be avoided, as they will produce glare and harsh shadows. A good example of an ambient light is a pendant lamp in the middle of the ceiling.

To reduce glare, ambient lights often use reflector bulbs instead of exposed bulbs to bounce back the light into the lightshade and into the room. Ambient lighting can be designed to provide a softer overall effect by using floor or table lamps, which illuminate the corner of the room. Dimmers are often fitted to change the brightness of the ambient lights.

Ambient lights include: ceiling lights such as pendants and chandeliers; lanterns; recessed or track lights; wall-mounted lights.

Task Lighting

Task lighting generally refers to office and workshop lighting, to assist you to perform tasks such as reading, writing and working. The effect you are trying to produce is to create a local light with improved contrast. Task lighting is generally done by adding a desk or floor lamp near your work area. It is important that the task light is free of bright glare and dark shadows, and critical that eye strain is prevented. Normally pearl light bulbs rather than exposed globes are used which provide a much softer illumination. Task lights are in themselves significant features of the room, so an optional feature of high quality, well designed task lights will be to decorate the room. In addition, task lights save money by reducing the amount of energy required to illuminate a full room.

Task lights include: desk lamps; floor lamps; wall mounted lights; undercabinet lights.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting refers to lights used focus on specific area or object in a room. Accent lights are very dramatic and highlight certain features of a room, such as paintings, desk or interesting cabinets. Accent lights are very often used to illuminate corners of rooms and produce interesting lights pools on the floor.

Accent lights include: spotlights and downlights.