What Is Task Lighting?

Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor

What is task lighting?

what is task lighting

Many are not sure what task lighting is and they struggle to choose the appropriate lighting for each room. In some instances, they attempt to manage all lighting applications in a room with just one light or with the ambient or effect lighting that they have lighting the room.

What is Task Lighting?

Task lighting is any light that serves to provide light for a specific purpose or task. It could be a light used for reading, working at your desk, sewing, cooking at your stove, or even tying fishing flies in your garage.

Task lighting should never be confused with the lighting that is providing the basic ambient light in your room. Ambient lighting is also referred to as effect lighting. You should select the task light that suits the specific need but also select one that complements the rest of the lighting in the room at the same time.

Types of Task Lighting

  • Task lights for reading
  • Office task lighting
  • Kitchen island pendant lights
  • Under cabinet lights
  • Task lights for makeup
  • Stove cooking surface lights
  • Recreational task lighting

These are just a few examples. You can come up with many more different types and uses for task lighting.

Task Lights for Reading

Task lights for reading are very common and come in so many different formats. There are reading lamps that you may keep near your recliner. Some people love to read in bed and have reading lights extending over them to specifically shine a light on the book. The light in the image below is often used at hotels but many people also install them in their homes.

task light for reading

Office Task Lighting

When we talk about home office task lighting, it usually comes in the form of a desk lamp. One that specifically shines light on your work area. I suppose this is similar to a reading light, but I am calling it out as separate because the lighting options you may find are specific to a desk. You may also have task lighting over other equipment or machines in your office. In my case, I have a small lamp next to my office phone and although it provides for additional task lighting on my desk, it also has a bit of a softer 2700 bulb which I prefer at my desk.

office desk lamp

Kitchen Island Pendant Lights

Pendant lights over a kitchen island are also task lights. This is where you may be preparing food or chopping vegetables. This is usually the most well lit part of your kitchen. That being said, the style of pendant light that you select is also making a design statement. So, you get that look and feel of an effect light but in reality, the light that is being directed down towards the kitchen island is serving as a task light.

Look for my discussion on how to light a kitchen and I will go deeper into the importance of pendant lights over your kitchen island.

kitchen pendant

Under Cabinet Lighting

Under cabinet lights are also at times either an effect or a task light. In many kitchens, the under cabinet lights are used as task lighting. This is especially true when the homeowner does not have a kitchen island and instead uses the counter space beneath the upper cabinets to do most of the preparation in the kitchen.

Many under cabinet lights can be dimmed or adjusted to provide different types of light. As a result, you can switch between task and effect lighting.

under cabinet lighting

Task Lights for Makeup

Lighting for makeup is a perfect example of a true task lighting application.  Most women will agree that you need specific bright lighting to apply makeup.  This can come in multiple forms as there are portable lights and also the lights above your bathroom vanity can be used as task lighting for makeup if you select the right fixture and Kelvin light temperature.

makeup light

Stove Cooking Surface Lights

When you are cooking, having the right light on your cook surface is important. Most people purchase a range hood for above their stove and just leave whatever light bulb came with the range hood. Most of the time, it is a standard bulb that does a poor job of lighting your cook surface.

The lights in your range hood can be replaced easily. When we remodeled our kitchen and installed the new range hood, the light was horrible. Not only was it not bright enough but it also was a temperature that was much too cold and did not match the look and feel of the room. I was able to unscrew the two bulbs and replaced them with two others that I purchased at my local home improvement store. Now, the cook surface is well lit and it matches the rest of the kitchen.

cooking surface lights


Recreational Task Lighting

Recreational task lighting is when you need to light an area that is used for the purpose of some type of gaming. It can be a light that you use at night to light up your basketball court or as in the picture below, the light over your pool table.

pool table light

Related Questions

What is effect lighting?
Effect lighting is the type of light that provides for a certain look and feel or mood to a room. An example would be a small stained glass table lamp. Another example is the lighting up in a tray ceiling. It just adds a nice glow and highlights the molding and detail that you may have up there.

Is task lighting useful in the kitchen?
Task lighting is extremely useful and important in the kitchen. The ambient light you get from your recessed lighting may not be enough to light your work surface in the kitchen. This is where task lighting works well.