General lighting provides overall illumination. Without general lighting fixtures such as ceiling-mounted light fixtures and lamps, your home would be too dim to see properly in most areas. CFL, incandescent and halogen bulbs are often used for general lighting purposes. Fluorescent bulbs are common in basements and garages.
Track lighting and wall-mounted fixtures are both examples of accent lighting. Accent lighting is used to create a focal point. When this type of spot lighting illuminates a painting, plant or artwork, it is considered accent lighting. Accent lighting is traditionally three times brighter than general lighting. Choose LED, CFL or incandescent bulbs for accent lighting.
Used for reading or other detail-oriented tasks, task lighting reduces shadows and glare. Task lighting helps prevent eyestrain and is often provided by a table lamp, floor lamp or recessed lighting. Choose CFL or incandescent light bulbs for task lighting.
Chandeliers are often mounted to the ceiling for general lighting in a dining room or foyer. They may also be used as accent lighting over a piano or seated area in a room without general lighting. Chandeliers are generally considered stylish and upscale. Pendant lighting, which is more common, can serve two purposes: general and task lighting. Pendants are mounted to the ceiling and often extend down over a table or workspace. The light is diffused with a globe or shade, and the light fixture may attach to a dimmer switch for variable lighting output. Portable lamps can be used for any type of lighting since they are not mounted. A tall halogen lamp can provide general lighting to a room, while a table lamp can accent small items on a table.
Dimmer switches adjust the level of light being put out by the fixture. Adjusting a dimmer allows for a measure of control; it can add mood to a room or allow for multiple lighting fixtures to be used at once without flooding the room with too much light. Using light bulbs at a percentage of their full capacity also extends the life of the bulb.