Light Fixture Types

Light Fixture Types

There are many different fixture types that you can use to deliver the general, task, or accent light you need. Below is an overview of the types of fixtures available and tips on how they can be used to meet your lighting and décor needs.

The types of lighting fixtures include:



Thomas Lighting ceiling fixtures are available in a wide range of traditional, contemporary, and transitional styles in close to ceiling and flush mount designs. These fixtures are used for creating general lighting, and are recommended in foyers and hallways with lower ceilings.

Close to ceiling and flush mount fixtures are extremely practical in areas of high activity such as kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, playrooms and dens.

Other types of ceiling fixtures include chandeliers and recessed lighting fixtures.



Most often seen in dining rooms, kitchens, hallways and entrances, chandeliers can also add light and drama to a bedroom or living room. Because they tend to dominate the open space, a chandelier’s style sets the tone for a room’s décor more than any other lighting fixture.

Most chandeliers are design to provide a general overall light, although some will use shades, glass, or reflectors to concentrate light directly on the surface below.

Thomas Lighting chandeliers are available in incandescent, halogen, and now LED light sources. Most of our chandeliers are part of complete lighting fixture families.

Hanging chandeliers at the proper height

The most frequently asked question regarding chandeliers is “how high should they be hung in relationship to a kitchen or dining room table?”

The height of the main source of light should be 30″ – 36″ above the table, and there should be a minimum of 150 watts total in the chandelier.

Choosing the right size chandelier

The chandelier you select should have a diameter that’s in proportion to the size of your room and your furnishings. Here are recommended guides for the size of chandelier in relationship to the size of a kitchen or dining room.

Room Diameter of Chandelier
10′ x 10′ 17″ – 20″
12′ x 12′ 20″ – 26″
14′ x 14′ 24″ – 30″

Visit your local Thomas Lighting retailer to compare the different size chandeliers with your table measurements.

Adding lighting controls

Adding a dimmer allows you to vary the illumination to match your preferred atmosphere. For family gatherings, a bright light sets a cheerful tone. For formal dinners, a soft flattering light can be more desirable.



Fan lighting fixtures have become a popular choice for many rooms including kitchens, bedrooms, and dens. While the fixture provides good general lighting, the fan helps keep the room more comfortable and makes heating and cooling the room more efficient.

As with chandeliers, fan fixtures can be more versatile with the addition of a dimmer control to vary the light intensity.


Papillion Pendant 190099704

Pendants can provide both task and general lighting. Since they hang in the room, as opposed to in the ceiling or on the wall, they add a major style element to your decor.

Equipped with shades or globes to avoid glare, pendent light fixtures are a great choice for task lighting over kitchen islands, tables, counters, and other task areas.

When used over end or night tables, pendants free up the space occupied by table lamps. The use of a dimmer and other lighting controls give you the flexibility to vary the light output.

Recessed Lighting Fixtures


Lighting that’s recessed into the ceiling is extremely versatile and largely “décor neutral.” Recessed lighting can be used for overall room illumination, task lighting, and as accent lighting to highlighting artwork, collections, or décor details.

Thomas Lighting recessed fixtures are available in 3″, 4″, 5″, and 6″ diameter fixtures, and they can be used with a broad range of incandescent, compact fluorescent, and LED light sources.

Insulated or not?

Recessed fixtures are available with insulation (IC) or without insulation (non-IC). Recessed housings covered with insulation are restricted to a lower wattage lamp than housings in non-insulated spaces.

Recessed lighting fixture trims

A range of recessed fixture “trim” designs are available to provide different light performance. Each trim design may have different maximum wattage. Consult the label inside the housing for the maximum wattage allowed for a particular trim and application.

Trim types include baffles, splay, eyeball, reflector, open, decorative, and shower. Each has different lighting performance characteristics. Your Thomas Lighting distributor can help you choose the type of recessed lighting fixture and trim that best suits your needs. Where to buy.

Download the Recessed 1-2-3 Brochure

Planning your recessed lighting layout

The number and placement of your recessed lighting fixtures depends on the type of lighting you want to create:

General lighting with recessed fixtures

To achieve good general lighting with recessed fixtures requires some lighting knowledge and planning.

The area of floor space illuminated by one recessed light is equal to the height of the ceiling where the light is installed. Spacing the fixtures 6′ to 8′ apart will provide even light distribution throughout a room. A spacing of 12′ to 14′ will provide a softer ambient light. Coverage per fixture is based on providing 15 to 25 foot-candles of light.

In general, you should place your recessed fixtures at least 3′ away from the wall. Placing the light closer to the wall will create more reflection into the room and make the space feel brighter, but can also create harsh shadows from painting or objects hung on the wall. Placing the light further than 3′ away from the wall may make the corners seem dark, and the ceiling seem lower.

In recessed fixtures, general service “A” bulbs provide wide light distribution. “R” and “PAR” bulbs concentrate light. In rooms with darker color, consider using higher wattages.

For help in creating the optimum recessed lighting layout in your home, consult with the Thomas Lighting showroom experts. Where to buy.

Task lighting with recessed fixtures

Use a TRM30 or similar bulb for task lighting

Depending on the bulb and trim used, recessed lights can provide concentrated light on workspaces, such as kitchen counters, or a uniform, overall ambient light. For task lighting place lights directly over the work surface, avoiding placements that might cause harsh shadows from people or objects in the room.

Kitchen task lights should be placed in the center of islands, but counters with cabinets over them should be lit with lights centered over the edge of the counter. Space the lights every 3′ to 4′ to evenly illuminate the countertop.

Recessed fixtures for accent lighting and slopped ceilings

Select a PAR lamp for accent lighting, such as to highlight a painting over a fireplace.

“Eyeball” trims can be used in recessed fixtures to direct the light at an angle to accent a painting or decor detail. When using recessed fixtures to accent details in the room such as a fireplace mantle, the distance from the light to the wall should be 60% (multiply by .6) of the distance from the ceiling to the object.

When using recessed fixtures for accent lighting, use a PAR-type reflector bulb for a more precise beam. Usually, one fixture is required for each object being accented. Eyeball fixtures should generally be aimed at a 30º angle to prevent light from shining in anyone’s eyes and to avoid disturbing reflections on the surface of the object.

Eyeball trims can also be used to accommodate lighting from a sloped ceiling or to wash the light across wall surfaces to visually expand interior spaces.

Your Thomas Lighting retailer can help you determine the number of lights, proper spacing and type of bulb best suited to your accent lighting needs. You can find your nearest Thomas Lighting retailer here.

Wall washing with recessed fixtures

You can light up an entire wall using several recessed fixtures with eyeball trims – an effect known as “wall washing.” Calculating the number of fixtures, spacing, and distance from the wall for optimum wall washing effect can be complex. Consult with your local Thomas Lighting retailer. Find them here.

Recessed lighting for wet locations

Recessed fixture housings are available for use in damp locations, such as baths. Fully enclosed “shower trims” can be used to upgrade the housing’s UL listing from damp location to wet.

Outdoors, avoid using an enclosed trim under outdoor porches where bugs and debris inside the glass may create a maintenance problem.

Damp locations can have open trims but wet locations required fully enclosed trims.

Utility Lighting


Simple, functional lighting with no specific intended design style is often referred to as Utility Lighting. Fixtures that provide light but are hidden from view may have no influence on the room’s decor, but the light they provide can play an important roll in the mood of the room and the practicality of the lighting for daily activities. Utility lighting is the right choice for rooms that are themselves dedicated to utility, such as the garage and laundry room.

Wall Lighting

190023719 - Pittman Wall Light

Thomas Lighting wall fixtures are available in a huge range of styles, for indoor and outdoor applications. Our wall fixtures include one, two, three, four, and five light designs. Some of our wall fixtures are available with a choice of shades to allow you to build a unique design statement for your room.

While they can contribute to a general lighting plan, wall fixtures usually serve as accent or task lighting. Wall fixtures that employ exposed or partially exposed light bulbs are well suited for use as task lights such as along a bathroom mirror. They can be used for general lighting as well, but if used without any ceiling lighting, the effect makes the ceiling seem lower.

As they’re often seen at eye level, wall fixtures have a strong influence on the decor and mood of the room. Many Thomas Lighting wall fixtures are part of a complete collection, so you can match them with your ceiling fixture of chandelier.

Install wall lights where they will not be in danger of being hit by normal traffic in the home.

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