Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting, also called a background or general light, provides the bulk of light in a room. Considered the base-level of lighting, it makes a room more welcoming by eliminating strong dark-light contrasts. Although ambient lighting usually does not provide an intense amount of light, it is wide-reaching and commonly the only light used for basic activities like playing cards, watching TV, and dining. For more intense activities, such as reading and working, additional light sources will likely be switched on.

Types of Ambient Lighting

Most ambient lighting sources are located on the ceiling. Examples of ceiling lights include:

Depending on how it was installed, ambient lighting can have an on/off switch, or it can be hardwired into a circuit. Dimmers are commonly used because of their versatility. With dimmers, it's easy to adjust brightness so as to set the mood and suit the activity.

Making Use of Ambient Lighting

There is a science behind which lights work best in which spaces, and there are a number of experts and books to help determine the right combination for your home. For example, a recommended ambient light for busy spaces like hallways, bedrooms, bedrooms, etc. include a flushmount fixture style. Energy-efficient florescent tubes are ideal in utility rooms, like laundry rooms.

Ambient Lighting and Energy Conservation

Beyond the right type of lighting, it is important to choose the right kind of bulbs and fixtures. Electricity consumed by ambient lights can accumulate up to 20 percent of all the electricity used at home. One way to save energy is to choose a light fixture that does not soak up the light itself. An inefficient fixture absorbs the light. Often times you can direct the light correctly so as to maximize the energy of that fixture. Another energy-saving tip is to simply dust and clean off light bulbs. Also, not only are dimmers convenient, but over time, they also save a lot of energy.

Ambient Lighting as Part of Your Lighting Combinations

Generally speaking, there is a designated source of ambient lighting in each room. On occasion, however, it is rather the combination of light sources from decorative and accent lighting, task lighting, and/or natural lighting that may act as the general source of light. In contrast to ambient lighting, task lighting provides light for a specific task, such as a reading light on the nightstand.

Decorative and accent lighting shines on a certain angle, object, or place in the room so as to further illuminate it. Typically, this lighting is four to five times brighter than ambient light. Of course there is natural light as well. Natural light comes from outside, candles, fireplaces, and anything natural. Sometimes skylights act as the ambient light source in a bathroom or hallway.