What Are Area Lights and Where Are They Used?
Lighting designer Thomas Farin talks about the importance of light to the design process, saying “Light is the first element of design; without it, there is no color, form, or texture.”
Lighting controls not just what we see but how we see it. It can make a space seem intimate, mellow, exciting, or energizing. It lets you shape your space in a way that few other design disciplines can.
Today we’re going to take a look at area lights. Keep reading for an explanation of area lighting, what it is, and how you can use it for an indoor application or outdoor application.
What Are Area Lights?
For an easy explanation of area lights, let’s start by looking outside of design. Sometimes outside sources can explain things in a clear, direct way as it’s intended for an uninformed audience.
In their handbook on physically-based rendering, authors Matt Pharr, Wenzel Jakob, and Greg Humphreys describe area lights as “a light source that emits light from its surface with a directional quality.”
They go on to outline some specifics like different qualities of shadows. They also offer some illustrations to show the impact that area lighting can have, illustrating the dramatic effect that focused lighting can have on an object or area.
Types of Area Lighting
Area lighting can refer to many different types of light. The different types are usually defined by their light distribution, with some consideration of potential application as well.
Light distribution is considered the point at which light is exactly 50% of the luminosity of the source.
Types of area lighting can sometimes can in different shapes, as well. Let’s take a quick look at each to help give you a better idea of what kind of area lighting will best suit your needs.
Type 1 area lighting casts symmetrical light for its light distribution pattern. Generally speaking, the width of a Type 1 area light fixture’s illumination is roughly equal to its height.
Type 1 area lighting tends to have an oval shape thanks to its symmetrical light distribution pattern.
Lighted sidewalks and border lighting are both good examples of Type 1 area lighting. Type 1 area lighting features bi-directional lighting and symmetrical lighting. This means Type 1 lights require less power than other types of area lighting.
Type 2 area lighting has a slightly wider area of lighting distribution. This makes it more suitable for slightly wider walkways, roads, or driveways than Type 1 lighting.
Type 2 area lighting can sometimes be used for situations that call for long, narrow lighting. This makes Type 2 area lighting appropriate for wide walkways and longer, thinner enclosed areas like a tunnel.
Type 2 area lighting tends to cover an area of around 25 degrees. Its shape is also similar to an oval, like Type 1.
Type 3 area lighting is broad enough that it’s suitable for general outdoor application. It’s got a linear, directional light pattern, though, so it needs to be placed on the edge of whatever you’re illuminating.
Type 3 area lighting tends to be used for general outdoor applications like lighting a parking lot area or other wide outdoor space. Type 3 area lighting has a V-shaped directional light distribution at 40 degrees, though, with a much narrower light pattern on the sides.
You’ll need to take that into consideration and place the light accordingly.
Type 4 area lighting has a semicircular lighting pattern that also has a directional light distribution pattern. This makes it ideal as security lighting or for being mounted on the wall. Type 4 area lighting has the same lighting intensity at 90 and 270 degrees.
Its ideal range is around 60 degrees, though.
Type 4 area lighting can also be used for illuminating wider walkways. As a general rule of thumb, Type 4 area lighting can be used to illuminate areas up to 3.7 times its mounting height.
Type 5 area lighting boasts a full 360-degree lighting pattern. It has equal lighting distribution at all points and in all directions.
Type 5 area lights can also have a square pattern, though. the square Type 5 lighting pattern has the same lighting intensity at all of the cardinal points of a compass.
Type 5 area lights have the most even light distribution of all area light patterns. This means you need to place Type 5 area lights in the center of whatever you’re trying to light up, though. They’re a perfect choice for intersections or in parking areas where you have a lot of space to give you options on where to place your light source.
Area lights can give a space a whole new lease on life. They make it so you can actually use a space the way it’s intended. They also ensure you can use a space safely.
Considering how much illumination area lights call for and how much distance they need to cover, LED light fixtures are an ideal choice for area lights. They’re powerful enough that they can light up the area you need to illuminate.
They’re also durable enough to withstand outdoor conditions. So whether you’re looking to light a parking area or a construction site, a walkway, or the outside of an apartment building, try out LED lights the next time you need area lighting.
Looking For Area Lights?
Let LITELUME help you! All of our LED light fixtures include a 10 Year Limited Warranty as well as a return policy. Whether you’re looking for area lights or to light a sporting facility, we’re here to help you case your project in its best possible light!
Contact us today with any questions!