Lighting Basic: Types of Lighting

Accent Lighting Ambient Lighting Down Lighting Lighting methodology Recessed Downlight

Lighting designers have developed sophisticated techniques to light all kinds of spaces using a range of light fixtures developed for specific purposes. Below we cover the basic principles used to light spaces and also some of the specialized types of lighting that are used in both indoor and outdoor lighting.

Layers of Light: At a high level, lighting is organized based on its intended use into three broad categories, general (ambient), accent and task lighting. Below we
also cover related terminology.

Accent Lighting: Mainly decorative lighting, this is directional lighting intended to highlight or emphasize a particular display or object such as pictures, plants or
other elements of interior design or landscaping

Ambient Lighting: Also referred to as general lighting, is the lighting present in an area which fills in between accent and task lighting. Indoors this refers to a
lamp on a table or fixture on a ceiling. Outdoors, this might be light for
a parking lot.

Backlighting: This is light which is emitted from behind a subject which separates the subject from the background.

Down Lighting: Lighting which illuminates downward, in an almost perpendicular
direction with the floor.

Front Lighting: A common type of lighting which tends to make the subject looks flat as it casts no visible shadows.

Indirect Lighting: This is light which arrives at a surface after reflecting from one or more surfaces - outside of the light fixture – typically a wall or ceiling.

Task Lighting: Mainly functional, lighting designed for a specific purpose or task
such as reading or inspection of materials which requires higher light
levels. Requirements vary according to the proximity and level of
detail involved in the task.

Uplighting: Light that is set in a cylinder or other fixture, usually place on the
floor to direct the beam of upwards, often bouncing the light off the

Lighting Applications: Lighting applications typically refers to the specific use of a lamp or light fixture. For example a high-bay light used for an warehouse or
industrial application. We have created broad categories below, with
specific applications.


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