The kind of lighting utilised in domestic, commercial and industrial settings impacts on occupant well-being, efficiency, utilitarianism and aesthetics. Lighting influences human circadian rhythms, emotions, productivity and fitness. Comprehending the different effects the types of lighting have is to key to choosing right type. Worth remembering is the activity to be performed in the room and the lighting best suited for that.
Glare is a factor in natural and artificial light, heightened when high-gloss material is used in construction, and is a consideration with vision-impaired inhabitants of buildings. By using low-gloss finishes, this effect is lessened.
The following gives an indication of the different types of lighting.
Soft, recessed lighting is the light source of choice in domestic and commercial buildings. The advantages include minimal space requirements, a clean, modern look, the ability to be narrow or focused, diffuse or bright as well as being light in weight, so installation of studs, anywhere, is not an issue.
Track lighting is widely used as it offers several benefits, including supplying direct light which marks it as suitable for accenting portion of rooms or features, the ability to swivel to change light direction, and is cheap.
This lighting is key in offices, labs and kitchens where users are required to perform nuanced, complicated jobs which require high illumination. Key here is location, in order to supply the focused light onto surfaces and counters.
Natural lighting is economical and aesthetically pleasing. It is a solid option for use in any room or office depending on the time of day, and gives the appearance of enlarging tiny spaces. Natural lighting improves psychological health. However, not all architectural choices provide for or optimise natural lighting, and it can lead to glares and shadows in interiors. This is mitigated by even distribution of lighting, or window glass, outside awnings and see-through wall panels, as well as tints, films and glazing.
Natural lighting is often used in combination with artificial lighting controls which turn off fixtures when there is sufficient natural light, preventing glare and saving energy.
The most used and preferred kind of lighting which provides general illumination without eye-watering glare, and is used for day to day functions. Also known as mood lighting.
Accent lighting provides a focal point for concentration of the eye, reducing focus on other areas. Used for highlighting furniture, artwork, displays and wall washing. Utilised outside and outdoors to highlight architectural features or as a crime deterrent.
Suitable for high ceilings, these add an element of sophistication to foyers, bathrooms, and waiting and pause areas.
Suitable hanging directly over work stations, and can be used for ambient, task and accent lighting.
Swing arm lamps
Utilised on desks, tables, mounted for extra lighting, and highly adjustable. Also lightweight and portable.
Suitable for domestic kitchens and as a form of recessed lighting.
Standard issue in bathrooms and dressing rooms, used for modifying personal appearance.
Used for exhibiting the outside of homes to best advantage, as well as to light up garden features, and illuminative safety.
An alternative to natural light, with a similar colour spectrum, it is made by light bulbs that emit light and heat, but is not green and is substituted with LEDs, HIDs and fluorescent light.
Energy-efficient, long-lasting and gives off less heat than incandescence, these tubes or bulbs (compact fluorescent lamps) are ubiquitous in in buildings as they are without glare and tubes produce a line of light. Flicker does occur, prevented with lenses, covers, shades, panels and shields, or by using two tubes in opposing phases. Tube phosphor emits a warm tone, and dimmable fixtures lessen flicker and energy use.
Produced by a bulb’s filament surrounded by an inert gas and some halogen, halogen lighting is suitable for task lighting as it produces a bright white light, as well as heat, so safety must be considered when used by the vision-impaired as heat injuries can occur.
Light-emitting diode (LED)
Energy-efficient and producing light akin to daylight, often used as a directional light to highlight a fixture or sign, as well as in bulb arrays to produce multi-directional illumination. LED bulbs give off no UV radiation and heat, and are used for signage, street lighting and architectural lighting, as well as for task lighting. Other benefits include easy dimmability, silent operation, and low energy consumption.
High-intensity discharge (HID)
A type of arc lamp which lasts longer and has more light per watt than all other lighting. These come in high low-pressure sodium, metal halide and mercury vapour variations. Producing a yellow light which makes objects monochromatic, low-pressure sodium vapour uses minimal energy.
Neutral white light is produced by metal halide lamps, used for its natural colour appearance illumination. High-pressure sodium produces high-intensity white light with an orange tinge.
HID is usually utilised in sizable areas which need large sources of overhead light and for green, sustainable energy reasons, eg gyms, warehouses, stadiums, large outdoor areas, pathways and parking lots, as well as in retail and residential settings, where indoor gardens have plants that need intense levels of natural sunlight.