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A Comparison of Applications for Ambient, Accent, and Task Lighting


Lighting is an important part of daily life, and is used everywhere there might be a need. One lesser-known factor for choosing the right light is the application and type of lighting needed. After all, you wouldn’t use an LED Wall Pack to light up a living room! Understanding the purpose of a particular light will provide better and more efficient results to a space, whether it be a warehouse, front porch, or even just a parking lot.

Living Room Lighting

Different Types of Lighting Applications

So we know there exist different types of lighting applications, well what are they? These have been divided into different categories, but the mostly widely used and recognized will be Ambient, Accent, and Task lighting. All three of these categories work independently as well as together to create spaces where various tasks can be performed without overwhelming light or eye strain in areas that don’t need such intense focus.

Flush Mount Fixture

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the most common type of lighting, as this is general lighting used for lighting a particular space. Usually softer and wider spreads of light help to avoid glare, and this allows for simple orientation and mobility in a space.

Some good examples of this include Flush Mounts, High Bay Fixtures, and Wall Sconces indoor lighting or Flood Lights and of course sunlight for outdoor lighting. The main idea is a wide, soft wash of light for basic navigation and visual clarity.

Accent Lighting

By contrast, Accent lighting draws attention to a specific area, usually to highlight a decorative feature or element. These are typically brighter and have narrower beam spreads to focus the light on a specific area without much bleed.

Flood Lights can also be used in this way for outdoor lighting, typically with a narrower beam to spotlight a particular space, such as a flag or landscaping. For indoors, Downlights are one of the most common methods for accent lighting, since these act as indoor spotlights.

Accent Lighting

3 Lamps Cameron Vanity Light Matter Black Modern Gold Clear Glass

Task Lighting

Lastly, Task lighting is the ideal method of lighting for a space requiring particular focus or detail, such as reading, writing, sports lighting, manufacturing or assembly, etc. These have the highest lumen outputs and even narrower spreads than the previous categories, since these are usually placed in specialized areas. Swivel Lamps are a common example of this for indoor lighting, along with Desk Lamps, Vanity Fixtures, and more.

Combining Lighting Applications

Especially in residential use, combining all three categories are necessary to use in a given space to help create balanced lighting and designate areas of use. In other words, no one lighting application is going to be more useful than the others. Ambient lighting may light a room up to see, but you might not be able to proofread a document in an office without some strain, since there is no focused task light. In the same way, task lighting would cause eye strain and spottiness if used as ambient lighting.

Kitchen Lighting Applications

One of the most common places you will find all three styles of lighting used is a kitchen. Ambient lighting is usually a flush mount, island chandelier, or cove lighting, with accent track lights or downlights to highlight cabinets and other areas, and task lights over the stove, sink, and countertops for targeted visibility in higher-use spaces.


As you can see, choosing the right lighting for the job is crucial to maintaining balanced lighting, and HTM Lighting Solutions is always here to help when it comes to choosing the right products! From our quick and FREE Photometric Lighting Layouts to our wide selection of products, we can create unique and efficient lighting solutions for just about any space!

For any questions, assistance, or feedback, please feel free to contact us by phone at +1 (813) 649-8899 or via email at

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  • Michael Tomas