Task lighting vs ambient lighting: What is the difference?

Task lighting is the operational lighting that provides the required brightness to help you complete daily tasks. Ambient lighting is indirect lighting that can be used to add softness and texture to accentuate certain features in a room. You’ll have more direction when planning your interiors if you understand what they do and how to get the most out of them. Let us see the main difference between task lighting and ambient lighting.


What is task lighting?

task lighting in home
Task lighting

Image Source: vibia.com


It provides direct illumination that is suitable for detailed tasks such as reading and writing, grooming, and food preparation. It is brighter than ambient lighting and is concentrated on the specific area where the task is performed.


What is ambient lighting?

ambient lighting in home
Ambient lighting

Image Source: vibia.com


Ambient lighting provides general illumination and is intended to create a homogeneous lighting level. It is the primary layer of lighting and sets the mood of a room. As a result, it’s usually soft or diffused, and it’s often dimmable to accommodate both day and night settings.


Task lighting vs Ambient lighting: Key differences


Factors  Task lighting  Ambient lighting 
Area  Light is provided to a selected focus area.  Light is provided to the entire area. 
What to consider?  When installing task lighting, you should consider the amount of natural light entering the room, the location, the colour of the work surface, and the purpose of your light.   When installing ambient lighting, think about the colour temperature you want and whether you want it to mix in with other lights in the room. Also, consider the desired level of brightness. 
Kelvin value  LEDs of more than 2700 Kelvin.  Uses LED between 2200-2700 Kelvin. 
Application areas in the kitchen 
  • Under cabinet lighting 
  • In cabinet lighting 
  • Drawer lighting 
  • Pendant/over-island lighting 
  • Ceiling lighting 
  • Plinth lighting 
  • Under worktop lighting 
  • Over cabinet lighting 
  • Floor lighting 
  • Around the false ceiling 
Areas of application in the bedroom 


  • Reading lighting 
  • Bedside lighting 
  • Ceiling lighting 
  • Wardrobe lighting 
  • Drawer lighting 
  • Pendant Lighting 
  • Under bed lighting 
  • Wall lighting away from the bed 
  • Floor lighting 
  • False ceiling lighting
  • Recessed lighting 
Application areas in the bathroom 


  • Mirror lighting 
  • Ceiling lighting 
  • Pendant lighting 
  • In cabinet lighting 
  • Wall lighting on either side of the washbasin 
  • Plinth lighting 
  • Soft edge mirror lighting 
  • Floor lighting 
  • Wall lighting away from the mirror/washbasin 
  • False ceiling lighting 


task vs ambient lighting
Task lighting vs ambient lighting

Image Source: Pinterest


To learn more about home lighting design concepts & techniques, read our specialist’s guide!

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