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Lighting 101: Basic Types

Home lighting is somewhat overwhelming with its plethora of possibilities.

But, like most things, the wide field of lighting can be simplified. Well, sort of. Most people are aware that different types of lights are used for different circumstances. However, most people don't know these differing types of lights. Thankfully, the three basic types of lights can be broken down into three convenient categories, general lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Illuminating an area with all encompassing light is known as General Lighting. General lighting is used to fill a room or space with an even level of bright light. This type of light is common in public spaces and areas within the home that demand uniform bright light such as bathrooms and kitchens. Because the light fills the full space, general lighting is also referred to as ambient lighting. General lighting can be provided by a large number of common light fixtures. Ceiling lights, wall mounted lights, chandeliers, track lights, lamps and even lanterns, are all capable of illuminating almost any space with general lighting. Homeowners should be cautious with their selection of fixtures, as not to provide general lighting throughout the home. In many cases general lighting should not be considered. Because this approach will fill a room full of light it could be considered overkill. Although its useful in some situations for maintaining a mood, for example when entertaining guests. However, at other times t may seem somewhat overwhelming. Not only is general lighting unnecessary in many living spaces, it produces a form of light pollution known as Over Illumination, which amounts to an excessive amount of light. Over illumination is known to have various negative health effects for most people. To minimize over illumination, a home owner should consider task lighting. Task lighting focuses light on a particular area so that a particular task can be performed. For example, instead of illuminating the entire kitchen, a light over the sink or stove will provide the light necessary to cook or wash dishes. Fixtures that direct light in a particular direction are best suited as task lights. Fixtures that can be placed on tracks or recessed into the ceiling are well suited to illuminating a particular task, as are pendant lights. Between task lighting and general lighting is a grey area known as utility lighting. Although utility lighting almost completely fits the definition of general lighting, its serves the purpose of providing light for a particular purpose. Utility lighting is mostly used in garages or in-home workshops. These lights arenőÍt meant to be attractive, they simply get the job done. Ornamental lighting schemes are known as accent lighting. This amounts to lights arranged to illuminate a particular area of interest inside or outside the home. The uses of the this type of lighting vary dramatically. Accent lights can be used to highlight a home's landscaping or something inside a home such as artwork. Like task lighting fixtures capable of directing light in a particular direction are best suited for accent lighting.