What Are the Different Types of Lighting for Daily Use?

Although it might seem like a home or business lighting setup is inflexible, you can add more than a few lamps to your design to improve the situation.


Understanding the different types of lighting for daily use makes it possible for you to add or alter what is available without significant investment.


Here are the different options to consider if your spaces require some attention.


What Is the Focus of Lighting?


It's easy to take the light we have for granted as we have a wide range of illumination options for our favorite indoor and outdoor spaces with the many fixtures and designs available today.


Why is light so important in our daily lives?


It starts with the natural foundation of who we are as humans. Our ancestors had access to the sun's light before any artificial light sources were invented. They noticed that what was available at sunrise or sunset was much different than what came in the middle of the day, so they developed activities based on outdoor illumination.


Light from the stars makes it possible to navigate in any direction when your focus remains on the same one. Add some moonlight and some insects' and animals' natural bioluminescence, and you'll have a one-of-a-kind nighttime environment that feels quiet and serene.


Humans realized that nighttime lighting needed to have a more significant impact if productivity could continue into the evening hours. That's when we began to invent artificial light. Although we can see at night, it's much easier to process information when higher illumination levels are available.


Fire was the first source of artificial light, and it remained the primary source for centuries. We still use it in emergency situations, such as lighting a candle when the power goes out.


The only difference from yesterday's candlelit chandeliers and lanterns to today's best lighting sources is the technology used. We now have homes and offices glowing with LED lights and other advanced options.


Through it all, the focus of lighting has never changed. We still use it to provide comfort, complete tasks, and shape our moods.


What Is Ambient Lighting?


Ambient lighting typically uses fixtures to build safe environmental illumination on or in the ceiling, but the light source can be placed anywhere. This option is one of the three primary types for indoor use, with multiple styles and fixtures fitting in this category.


If you have a floor lamp that can brighten an entire room, that item qualifies as ambient lighting.


Any fixture creates this lighting type with a soft or base layer of yellow, off-white, or bright white illumination, whether working alone or with others. From there, other lighting types can be added to improve the situation.


Additional options for ambient lighting include the following fixtures.


  • Ceiling-Mounted Fixtures. This lighting option is a standard choice in most homes and commercial buildings. There can be one or more installations of LED, halogen, or fluorescent lights that provide adequate illumination.
  • Wall-Mounted Fixtures. With this choice, you get ambient lighting that comes from the side instead of the ceiling.
  • Recessed Fixtures. You can place this option in the ceiling, walls, or floors so that the lights don't “stick out" from the installation point.
  • Track Lighting. This fixture connects to one or multiple hub points, providing a string of different lights in a specific place. It can be curved or circular to create an artistic effect in the room.
  • Lamps. A floor lamp or a table lamp can add ambient lighting to any room if its illumination is powerful enough to light the entire area.


Ambient lighting is also possible in outdoor settings. You can typically see this choice available for stairs, building entrances, and walkways with recessed fixtures or LED downlights to help people avoid trip hazards.

What Is Task Lighting?


Task lighting uses lamps and other fixtures installed at a specific place where different activities occur. A typical example of this is light beneath a microwave or a vent in the kitchen where you cook. By adding more illumination there, it's easier to see what you're trying to do.


 Task lighting differs from ambient lighting because of its purpose. Although the lamp or fixture may be bright enough to illuminate an entire room on its own, its energy is focused on a particular area.


You can get creative with the placement, brightness, and look of task lighting in homes and businesses. The lighting qualifies in this category as long as the goal remains to improve light for the purpose of completing a specific action.


Different types of fixtures can provide task lighting benefits.


  • Portable lamps, flashlights, lanterns, and battery-powered lights.
  • Desk lamps that plug into a standard receptacle or operate off rechargeable batteries.
  • Undercabinet lights shine brightly on a specific countertop area.
  • Slim-line bar lighting delivers extra illumination to a flat surface.
  • Pendant light fixtures deliver task lighting over an extended area, such as a hallway or kitchen island.
  • Directional gimbals that deliver downlight benefit with their recessed fixture design.


Avoiding harsh colors or excessive brightness is essential when adding task lighting to an environment. The goal is to remove shadows from the space to make it easier to accomplish your goals.


Harsh colors in task lighting situations can also cause unwanted physical symptoms with too much exposure, including headaches, eye strain, and fatigue. That's why the light should be directed to a specific area while using a sunlight spectrum wavelength for the best results.


What is Accent Lighting?


Accent lighting is sometimes called “decorative," but decorative lights are a separate category when installed in homes or businesses. This option focuses on a specific point of interest in an open space. The goal is to provide the impression of a larger area while drawing a person's attention to a bookshelf, artwork collection, or architectural feature.


When accent lighting gets installed outside, it's usually done to highlight different aspects of a building's exterior. However, it can also be used to highlight specific landscaping components, a wall, signage, advertising, or entries and exits.


When comparing accent lighting options to ambient lighting, the installation should provide at least three times the illumination already available in the room.


The fixtures used for task lighting are compatible with decorative lighting needs. Using this design element, you'd use different candlepower options to create results because the goal isn't to complete a specific job. The lights are used to highlight something that feels pleasant when noticed.


What Is Decorative Lighting?


Decorative lighting is a new option that you can use to create different environments in a home or a business. You can also find options available for exterior use.


Today, one of the most extensive growth areas for decorative lighting involves holiday exterior lights. In the past, many neighborhoods installed Christmas lights on homes in unique and exciting ways to provide moments of festive cheer. New products in this niche use projectors to shine snowflakes, snowmen, and other figures on the side of a building.


Projectors for indoor use are also available to create a specific lighting result for indoor settings. For example, you can place an entire galaxy in a bedroom to see nebula clouds swirl or stars sparkle on your walls.


A projector is not necessarily required for decorative lighting solutions. Portable nightlights that plug into normal outlets can project a picture onto your ceiling for you to enjoy. Lasers can also be used to create decorative options that mimic stars or different shapes.


Today, some products use bulbs to create this effect from a standard desk or table lamp. That means you can repurpose your ambient, task, or accent lighting to be more decorative whenever you want.


What Are the Most Common Types of Lamps?


When deciding which lamp types to use for your lighting needs, it's essential to know what definition is being used in the discussion.


Lamps are sometimes referred to as the fixture that holds the light bulb. If you have a floor lamp, then the reference is to the structure that provides the light by standing independently in the room.


By definition, a lamp is merely an artificial light source. Therefore, the various bulbs you can purchase today to provide illumination are called “lamps."


When you look at what is available now, you will notice that all lamps fit into two generic categories: electrically-powered and battery-powered.


Once you have the power source settled, you can choose from incandescent or luminescent lamps to meet your needs. The first category includes halogen and incandescent bulbs, while the other uses LED, HID, and fluorescent technologies to give artificial light.


Here is some information to consider when looking at the different lamp options available today.


Lamp Type



CCT (K) CRI Burning Hours Applications
Incandescent 8 to 20 2800 100 1,000 Indoor lighting settings, decorative lighting, home-based use, small commercial spaces.
Halogen 20 to 25 2800 100 Up to 1,500 Flood lighting, theater lighting, medium to large commercial applications, indoor lighting.
Fluorescent 50 to 70 2700, 4500, or 6500 60-90 Up to 10,000 Small commercial and domestic indoor applications.
CFL 60 to 80 2700, 4500, or 6500 60-90 Up to 15,000 Small to medium commercial and domestic indoor applications.
Mercury-Vapor 35 to 65 2500 to 4000 Under 80 Up to 24,000 Although this lamp is not widely used today, it can still be found in some outdoor lighting applications.
Metal-Halide 75 to 100 Above 6500 80-90 Up to 15,000 Overhead lighting for industrial and commercial spaces. Also used in public areas like parking lots, sports arenas, retail stores, manufacturing settings, and warehousing. Also, provides security lighting for residential spaces and is found in motor vehicle headlights.
LED Up to 200 2700, 4500, or 6500 60-95 Up to 50,000 LED lights can replace previous lamps in virtually any setting, including indoor, flood, and road lighting.


In addition to these lighting options, HPSV and LPSV lamps are available for use. These two choices are primarily used for street lighting applications.


HPSV lights provide an excellent resource when consistent color rendering is required for safety purposes.


With LPSV lights, there is a better option to cut through the fog so that people can see better when driving in low-light conditions.


People Harness Light to Create New Experiences


Light is powerful. It is easy to create an engaging ambiance that feels warm and welcoming by using different types of lighting in each space in the right way.


You can use the different lighting options to enhance your mood, create emotions, or design spaces for relaxation.


Outdoor lighting options are typically designed with a safety-first attitude. Indoor lamps work to create spaces where people can work or notice things to ensure pleasant experiences.


If you're interested in transforming a room, one of the best steps you can take is to change what lighting fixtures are used to provide illumination. Whether it's a new chandelier or a complete remodel that incorporates recessed designs, you'll find that a practical application of the lighting types for daily use makes it easier to accomplish your goals. q


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