At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Directional Light?

Jesse Pompei
Jesse Pompei

Directional light is any light source pointed in a particular direction to highlight an object or space with a stronger level of light. This type of lighting can highlight artwork, a work space, or an architectural feature of a home, and can be used alone or along with the main lighting in a room. There are three main types of directional light: accent, recessed down lighting, and track lighting.

Accent lighting is used to put emphasis on particular objects on a wall or on a surface. It is the most common of directional lights and is a stronger shaft of light than the room's principal light source. A beam of light coming from the wall or ceiling can be adjusted to a specific point on a wall as well as in a rotational direction around the room, so it can swivel to any location needed.

Spotlights are a type of directional lighting.
Spotlights are a type of directional lighting.

Recessed down lighting, as well as semi-recessed lighting, focuses streams of light directly down from a location within the ceiling. Recessed lighting is typically used in homes with lower ceilings that would not be able to accommodate a chandelier or other type of hanging fixture. Some recessed lighting fixture heads are adjustable to focus on different areas of the room. The light emanating from a set of recessed lighting will provide a more uniform light source, rather than the stronger light coming from an accent light. Recessed down lights are also called can lighting fixtures.

Track lighting is a set of adjustable lamps attached to a long track on the ceiling, which hides the electrical wires. Each lamp can be moved according to personal preference. This type of lighting is an easier alternative to recessed lighting, especially if the ceiling material, such as concrete, cannot be disturbed. The track itself can be straight or curved.

A variation on track lighting, in which the lighting heads are clipped into place on the track, is cable lighting. In this type of lighting, directional light fixtures are suspended from a cable along the ceiling. Cable lighting allows for even more flexibility than track lighting since the cables can be shaped into many different forms.

Directional light can be used in a home, museum, gallery, or office. In each case, it can bring emphasis to an object or location. Directional light can also be used to create a focused beam of light in a particular area.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Spotlights are a type of directional lighting.
      By: DeshaCAM
      Spotlights are a type of directional lighting.