Different Types of Ceiling Lights

Different Types of Ceiling Lights

Ceiling lights might not be the first thing you focus on when designing a room, but they are essential in creating the right atmosphere for any given space. This article will explain the different types of ceiling lights by dividing them into two main categories and highlighting which spaces are better for each.

Without good lighting, a room would not even be usable, so ceiling lights are an obvious necessity. In addition to the lighting it provides, you want to make sure the ceiling light you choose looks appropriate and fits in your space. The right ceiling light can make or break the design of your room and take it to the next level. Choosing one is a tough decision, and hopefully, this article can help guide you through the process.

Ceiling Mounted Lights

Ceiling mounted lights are attached to or mounted into the surface of the ceiling. These ceiling lights are the best for producing ambient lighting, the most common form of lighting. Here are some examples of ceiling mounted lights.

Flush Lights

Flush lights are flat, versatile fixtures mounted against the ceiling. They come in a half-sphere shape and provide a sufficient amount of light. They are also neutral in appearance and do not make much of a visual statement, making them very popular.

These lights are easy to install and vary in size, ranging from 12 to 24 inches wide. They are great for bathrooms, hallways, bedrooms, or any space with a low ceiling. If you are looking for a ceiling light that provides optimal lighting and does a good job blending in with its surroundings, then flush lights are a perfect choice.

Semi-Flush Lights

These ceiling lights are also mounted against the ceiling, except they have a short rod that extends from it. The lights hang anywhere from four to eight inches below the ceiling, making it much easier to change light bulbs. Sem-flush lights are a little more noticeable and are best in rooms with ceilings between eight and 10 feet high. Additionally, they are used in place of chandeliers in rooms with lower ceilings. Although they are another versatile option that comes in many styles and can work in many settings, these are usually in kitchens and dining rooms.

Another difference between the two is that semi-flush lights do a better job lighting up the ceiling. Flush lights only shine light downwards, leaving the rest of the ceiling relatively dark. Semi-flush lights shine light both downward and horizontally. So, if that matters to you, then semi-flush lights are a great choice.

Recessed Lights

These lights go inside your ceiling, so they take up zero additional space and are ideal for rooms with low ceilings. These are probably the most versatile type of lights, as they blend in with any setting and work with any style. You can also put multiple recessed lights along your ceiling depending on how much lighting you want.

The main downside to these lights is that they are harder to install and usually require a professional. This can become expensive if you are looking to install multiple lights, although the lights themselves are reasonably priced. Other than that, you cannot go wrong with recessed lights.

Utility Lights

These ceiling lights are no-frill fixtures most common in basements, garages, and workshops. While these may not be the most aesthetically pleasing lights, they get the job done and light up a room very well. They usually are several feet in length and shaped like a bar but come in various sizes. If you want brighter, cheaper lights that last longer and have greater energy efficiency, then you should opt for LED bulbs.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans kill two birds with one stone, as they can provide lighting for a room and circulate the air. In terms of the lighting, ceiling fans do not contain as much light as other options. They are best where more general, ambient lighting is better like in bedrooms or living rooms.

Hanging Ceiling Lights

Ceiling lights in this category hang and drop down loosely from the ceiling. These types of lights tend to stick out and attract more attention. They are often the centerpiece of their space and generally provide more concentrated lighting to smaller areas.


Chandeliers are large, decorative hanging lights with multiple branches that have lights fitted into each of them. Traditional chandeliers have candles in each, but modern ones have either light bulbs or LED lights in them. These are always a focal point of any room they reside in, which are dining rooms a lot of the time but also can be living rooms or even bedrooms. These light fixtures create a feeling of elegance and formality, and they really set the tone.

When hanging a chandelier in your dining room, you want to make sure it is around two and a half feet above the dining table. This way, it remains the centerpiece while also not blocking anybody’s vision.

Track and Rail Lighting

Track lighting fixtures consist of a rack with individual lights positioned alongside it. These offer a modern-looking style and are common in modern kitchens and bathrooms. The track can either be mounted directly onto the ceiling or suspended from it, and many fixtures offer customization by allowing you to adjust the direction of each light. This is useful for task lighting. 

Rail lighting is similar to track lighting, except you can adjust the shape and position of the rail itself in addition to the individual light fixtures. This is good for shining light on corners or giving your track lighting more of a curved design. Both types of ceiling lights offer flexibility and are wonderful additions to modern spaces.

Pendant Lights and Inverted Pendant Lights

Like chandeliers, pendant lights hang low from the ceiling. They are best over a surface like a dining table or kitchen island. Unlike chandeliers, pendant lights only have one bulb in each and project less light overall. However, these lights add style and come in many designs and textures.

Inverted pendant lights also hang from the ceiling, but can be adjusted to different heights. Since these lights are inverted, the lamp part faces upward to illuminate the ceiling. These are great for creating a mood but bad if you need light to see and complete tasks.

Ceiling Light Materials


Since fabric lights are softer, they create warmer and relaxing moods. As you could probably guess, they are popular choices for bedrooms, but they are also used in dining rooms and living rooms and are very affordable. Color and type of fabric you choose help to determine the light that the fixture gives off. Darker fabrics absorb more light and create more of a faintly lit area. Silky fabrics give a more romantic feel, while cotton and linen give off a cooler, more natural vibe.


Glass material is popular for those looking not to draw attention with their lighting because of how it blends in nicely with lots of modern and traditional decors. However, if you want them to stand out, you can pick colored glass. Many flush, semi-flush, and pendant light fixtures are glass since glass diffuses light to provide more ambient lighting. The downsides to glass material are that you would have to clean it more frequently, and it is not as durable as other materials. It breaking can be dangerous, especially for young children.


This material is not only much more durable than glass, but it is also easier to clean and more affordable. Metal has become very in-demand for modern designs due to its industrial look. It is in various light fixtures, such as track lighting, rail lighting, and pendant lights. Metal painted black, white, or copper-colored is quite popular in particular. Many people also buy stainless steel and satin steel light fixtures.


Although this material is mostly in chandeliers, there are some crystal semi-flush fixtures and pendant lights. It gives off a very fancy and sophisticated look, and the light gets dispersed uniquely by bouncing off the crystals creating small pockets of light all around the room. Crystal is much more expensive than the other materials, however.


Although plastic ceiling lights are the least common material, they do exist. They are often sprayed to look like metal and are usually on pendant lights. They are not only the cheapest material, but they also weigh much less than metal and glass.

Different Types of Ceiling Lights: Conclusion

As you can see, there are many options at your disposal for ceiling lights. Once you decide whether you want a ceiling mounted light or a hanging ceiling light, there are several factors you should pay attention to as well. These include size, ceiling height, style, color, material, and price. Best of luck in your ceiling light search!

Written by: Alex LaRocca

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