3 Basic Types of Modern Lighting

History suggests that early humans first started to make lamps as early as 70,000 BC. Of course, these lamps used shells and other materials to hold oils taken from animal fats, which could then be ignited. This remained the standard until, perhaps, 7th century BC, when the Greeks started to make terra cotta lamps.  Over time, the principles remained the same as the materials changed; and it was not until the 18th century that lamp design went through another significant change.

Obviously, this was a time of major development and Europe experienced significant technological advances.  Lamp evolution was certainly part of this, with lamps shifting from oils to gas and then, eventually electric lighting in the 1930s. 

From Function to Fashion

As you might assess, early Premiere Luminaire lamps and lighting instruments were used solely for the purpose of sight.  Since the introduction of electricity, though, lighting has evolved to be not just a way to see in a dark space: it can actually serve different purposes. And with that in mind, here are three basic types of lighting.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is, generally speaking, the term used to describe the most basic function of light: to fill an entire space.  In modern terms, though, light is designed to bounce off walls in order to radiate as much light as possible. There are many types of fixtures that can provide ambient lighting:

  • Chandelier
  • Ceiling mounted light fixture
  • Recessed fixtures / down light
  • Wall-mounted fixture
  • Track lighting
  • Floor lamp
  • Table lamp

You can also find ambient lighting serving outdoors, as well.  Fixtures which might provide adequate ambient outdoor lighting could include:

  • Hanging fixtures
  • Post lanterns
  • Spotlight
  • Wall lighting
  • Overhanging structure recessed fixtures

Task Lighting

This type of lighting is probably a little more reminiscent of the earliest types of lamps used by humans, as those lamps only lit very small areas and were probably more apt for use when doing certain tasks, especially at night.  Modern task lighting, of course, can be used not just in the dark, but to add more focus to a particular place or activity, even in a well-lit room. Here are some common examples of task lighting:

  • Directional recessed fixtures
  • Downlight
  • Pendant lighting
  • Portable lamps
  • Desk lamps

Accent Lighting

Finally, accent lighting is intended to add character to a space or draw attention to something specific.  This type of lighting can give the illusion of a bigger space but is most often used to highlight specific features or décor.  Examples of accent lighting include:

  • Track lighting
  • Wall-mounted fixtures
  • Directional recessed fixtures

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