The Three Types of Lighting
Professional lighting designers refer to three different types of lighting; General, Task, and Accent:
General or ambient lighting
General lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as ambient lighting, general lighting should provide a comfortable level of brightness, enabling you to perform tasks and move about safely.
General lighting for indoors can be accomplished with a chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed or track lights, and with floor and table lamps. General lighting fixtures outside your home can include spotlights, hanging fixtures, post lanterns, wall lighting, and recessed fixtures used in overhanging structures.
Task lighting helps you perform specific tasks and activities such as reading, writing, sewing, cooking, homework, or balancing your checkbook. Task lighting is usually achieved with recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting, portable lamps, or desk lamps.
Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows and should be bright enough to prevent eyestrain. It’s useful to have task lighting on controls that are separate from the general lighting.
Accent lighting is the use of a concentrated light on an area or subject to create a visual point of interest. Accent lighting is often used to spotlight architectural features, paintings, plants, sculptures or collectables.
Accent lighting adds an extra dimension to a room, and proper use of accent lighting can help make a room look larger.
Creating effective accent lighting typically requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting around it. Accent lighting is usually is created by using track, recessed, or wall-mounted fixtures.