What is Indirect Lighting?

Definition of indirect lighting

lighting in which the light emitted by a source is diffusely reflected (as by the ceiling)

When you shop for new light fixtures, you have two basic choices:  direct or indirect.  You need to know the difference between the two types of fixtures in order to make the best choice for each location in your home.

Indirect lighting refers to fixtures that direct the light upward to bounce off of the walls or ceiling to light the room.  Direct lighting, on the other hand, directs the light downward, directly onto the surface below.

Higher ceilings allow the use indirect lighting, which is much healthier and reduces glare.

Typically, direct light fixtures provide a better light source for detailed tasks such as cooking or reading.  However, they can also become a source for glare, since the lightbulbs are often exposed and directly in your eyes when you look upward toward the fixture.  Pendant lights and chandeliers that direct light directly onto the surface of a table or countertop are great examples of direct lighting.  They are more often used in kitchens than in dining spaces; kitchens require great task lighting, while dining rooms work best with softer lighting.

Indirect light fixtures, in contrast, feature light that is diffused more evenly into the room.  By bouncing the light off of the ceiling or walls, the light spreads around the room, making glare less likely.  It can also lessen the overall light in the space, since some of the brightness is lost on all that bouncing around.  Fixtures such as this inverted bowl fixture are good examples of indirect lighting.

Chandeliers with glass or shades that direct light upward also feature indirect light.

What is semi indirect lighting?

using a translucent reflector that transmits some primary light (as to the floor) while reflecting most of it (as to the ceiling) .

Some fixtures, such as this one, allow you to bring both indirect and direct lighting into a room.  The indirect light gives you a diffused, overall ambient light source, with the direct light gives you better lighting for detailed tasks.  Often, they can be turned on together, or individually, depending on your needs. Wall sconces also come in options offering either indirect or direct lighting or both.

When shopping for new light fixtures, be sure that you know what kind of fixture will work best for your space before you begin.  By determining what task your light fixture needs to perform – based on the use of the room it will be installed in – you can narrow your zillions of choices considerably.

Direct vs. Indirect Light

Direct lighting at its most obvious is a light shining directly onto an object. Examples include a flashlight pointed at a doorknob when entering the home at night and a desk light illuminating paperwork as you burn the midnight oil to meet a project deadline.

A pendant light or chandelier above a dining area is also a source of direct light. Indirect light, on the other hand, is less obvious — the light source is not shining directly at the area receiving indirect light. Light bouncing off a wall and door in one room provides indirect light for a hallway; a sconce near a ceiling, aimed upwards, provides indirect lighting for the room. Indirect light is important when entertaining, watching TV or working at a computer, and can create an appealing glow in your home.

Natural light from a window may also offer indirect light as you sit away from the window, out of its view. Direct light is much like a beam shining on a specific area, while indirect light is the ambient lighting still evident outside that beam.

Resources: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indirect%20lighting


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