Many people don’t give a lot of thought to the types of ceiling lights in their homes, but they’re critical for helping you create the correct atmosphere and ambiance in your house. Picking the correct type of ceiling light can also make your room usable or not, and you need to ensure that your light is fit for purpose and functional.
Additionally, some types of ceiling lights work better in specific instances than others, and understanding the differences between them is key to helping you narrow down your options. We’re going to outline the 16 most stylish ceiling light types on the market below.
1. Ceiling Fans
The first type of ceiling light on the list is a ceiling fan, and they function as both a fan and a light fitting. They mount straight to the ceiling, and they serve a dual purpose. Many people consider them to be a money saver as they allow you to lower your room’s temperature and light the space at the same time. Ceiling fans are very popular, especially when the temperatures heat up, and they usually offer ambient lighting. They won’t give as much light as a flush mounted lighting fixture will, and they’re not great for areas where you need higher visibility, like in your kitchen. They work in living rooms and bedrooms very well.
When it comes to the fan part of this type of ceiling light, there is debate on how effective it actually is. Some people claim that it’s powerful enough to lower the temperature of the room by up to five degrees, and other people claim that the temperature doesn’t budge when it’s on. Instead, the fan works to circulate the air in the room to give you the feeling that you’re cooling down as the moving air meets your skin.
Either way, people in warmer climates use this type of ceiling light to get rid of the hot, still air during the summer months. They use much less energy when you compare it to air conditioning units. They can also work to heat up the air during the colder months. Instead of pushing the room’s air down to create a breeze, you can flip a switch and have the blades rotate the other way. This will pull the cooler air upwards and ensure that warmer air stays by you. Ceiling fans also work to distribute heat much more effectively, and this removes some of the stress from your home heating system.
Ceiling fans are very popular when the weather warms up as they can help drop the temperature of a room by a few degrees to make it more comfortable. New ceiling fans 013 by Roger Mommaerts / CC BY-SA 2.0
A chandelier is a hanging light type that is very decorative. The lights usually come with several branches or arms on them where you fit numerous light bulbs or candles. The more branches this light has, the more light it’ll throw when it’s on. Chandeliers are very common in dining rooms, but you may find them in living rooms too. They have very ornate and large natures that make them a nice focal point in your room, and they’re a great way to ensure that your dining table is the focus of the room when you hang the fixtures over it.
When you hang your chandelier above your table, you want it to sit roughly 2.5 feet from the table’s surface. This allows the chandelier to dominate the space while ensuring that it stays out of anyone’s line of vision as they sit at your table. Adding an impressive chandelier in your dining room is a nice way to set the space’s tone, and you can easily get a sophisticated or formal look and feel, depending on your fixture’s design.
Traditional chandeliers would have had candles for the light source, but you won’t find this feature now. Instead they use LEDs or lightbulbs. You can suspend them from your ceiling using a chain to give it a more classic look and feel, or a more modern look mounts it straight to the ceiling. In turn, your chandelier will be much closer to the ceiling.
Crystal is one common material used for types of ceiling lights, and you’ll find it mostly used in semi-flush lighting fixtures or chandeliers. Crystal lends a very formal and sophisticated feel to your room, and it can usually come with a higher price tag to match. The crystal’s facets can disperse the light when it’s on to create interesting patterns throughout your room. You’ll get smaller pockets of light o the walls or any area where the light bounces from the crystals.
Fabric types of ceiling lights can easily attach to semi-flush lights or pendant lights. One of the nice things about these lights is how cost-effective they are. They’re easy to outfit an entirely new extension with them without breaking the bank. You can pick up smaller fabric lights for a few dollars each, and higher-quality ones usually top out at roughly $50 each. Fabric lights work to help make your room feel much warmer than it originally would, and it does this by having a soft fabric surface over the light instead of a harder material like glass or metal. It’s a nice way to create a cozy feeling in a room.
You can easily create mood lighting with this type of ceiling light because the fabric dilutes and disperses the light that the bulb gives off, and you get more ambient light. They’re popular in bedrooms because softer light is more appreciated. However, you can also easily use them in dining rooms and living rooms, especially if you pair them with lamps.
The density and color of the fabric on the light will help determine what light it gives off, so you have to pay close attention when you shop. Darker fabrics will naturally absorb more light and create a dimmer atmosphere than a lighter fabric will. Linen or cotton shades will give a more natural, cool, and airy feel, and silk or velvet is more romantic.
5. Flush Lights
As the name suggests, this type of ceiling light sits right against the ceiling and comes in a half sphere shape. These light types are very common in the United States, but you won’t find them a lot in Europe. They’re very popular for a range of reasons. They’re extremely versatile, and they give you a good amount of light while being more discreet. They’re not meant to be statement pieces since they sit tight to the ceiling and don’t protrude much into the room. They’re very natural-looking and you can find them in modern and traditional styles.
Flush types of ceiling lights are very easy to install, and you can mount them to the ceiling in a few minutes. These lights vary in cost, but if you’re on a very tight budget, they can be a very solid choice because you can buy them from under $20.00 per light. If you want a more stylish or larger model, they can go up to $100 each. They work well to disperse the light, and this allows for optimal lighting in several rooms. They work wonderfully for children’s rooms because they don’t have any dangling parts, and this makes it impossible for your kid to injure themselves.
Since you mount them right to the ceiling, they work very well in any rooms that have lower ceilings. If you have dome ceilings, you want to avoid flush lights because they blend into the space way too much. They direct the light downwards, and depending on the bulb you have, they can give off a low light that is very calming or a brighter, more functional light.
Flush lights are very nice to have if you don’t want them to distract from your room’s overall look. They come in several sizes and sink into the ceiling. Our bathroom & hallway remodel by James Lundstrom / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Most semi-flush and flush types of ceiling lights feature glass as the main material. Generally, they have an obscured glass to help get more ambient lighting that is less harsh. You can also get stained or colored glass lights if you want to add character to your decor. Glass is also a fantastic pick if you want your light fitting to blend in flawlessly without drawing any attention to it. Glass will work with a huge range of decors, and it can be traditional or modern, depending on the design.
Pendant lighting can also use glass, and they’re a very solid choice if you want to get an excellent balance of functionality and style because it’s much better at helping disperse the light than metal is. One of the biggest drawbacks of using glass is that it can look dirty because any dust that collects on the fixture will be easy to spot. You’ll have to clean glass lights frequently to keep them looking good, and you want to use a cloth to avoid streaking.
The other disadvantage of using glass as your type of ceiling light is that it’s much less durable than other picks. It can shatter or smash if you drop it. You have to make a point to take extra care when you move furniture around to avoid causing damage to your fixtures. It’s also a good idea to avoid using pendant glass lighting in a kid’s bedroom because your kids can break it and cut themselves.
7. Inverted Pendant Lights
This type of ceiling light will hang from the ceiling and you can adjust it to sit at a height that works well for the room. Inverted pendant lights are very similar to standard pendant lights except that the lamp portion faces upwards to form a bowl. This means that this fixture gives off light that directs upwards and illuminates your ceiling.
These ceiling lights work well to create ambiance or a mood in your space, but it makes them very inappropriate to provide functional light in areas where you need clear vision. If you have some design feature on your ceiling, like crown molding, this type of ceiling light will draw attention to it and pull it into focus. This lighting style can also make smaller rooms look larger than they really are. While most lights in this category are bowl-shaped, you can find other designs to fit into a more modern style.
8. Island Lights
Island types of ceiling lights are very similar to track lights, but they get specifically designed to sit over your kitchen island. They’re very popular to use in modern kitchens for task lighting, and they hang a lot lower than track lighting does. This light style has a single light source at the base of a step that points the light downward to help create one focal point.
It’s possible to hang several island lights up to create a nice brightness to your space or increase your visual appeal. You can find these lights in several different designs, including circles and squares to throw the light into a more extensive area.
9. LED Indirect Lights
This type of ceiling light is very unique. Instead of putting the fixture onto your ceiling, you’ll mount strips of lights around the ceiling’s perimeter. You position these lights toward the ceiling, and this allows them to reflect much more and create a more illuminated and much bigger space.
It’s possible to buy color changing LED light strips that you can adjust the light color to your liking to inject visual appeal to your room. This ceiling light type works well if you have a more modern decor style in your home. LEDs are well-known for being energy-efficient, and this makes it a very affordable option. To conceal these lights, you can install your crown molding along the top of the ceiling. This will hide the LED light strips while causing the light to go toward the ceiling to give the room an intriguing glow.
There are several types of ceiling lights that are made out of metal, and this is a relatively inexpensive but durable material. Metal lights have gained a huge amount of popularity in recent years, especially if you spray paint it a copper or black coloring. This is due to the fact that these metals lend an industrial appeal to the space that matches modern styles. If you choose rail or track lighting, they come from a number of finishes and are usually made out of metal.
The most common finish you’ll get on these types of ceiling lights are satin steel, stainless steel, or painted white or black. You can also find gold-colored metal light fittings, but this is less common. A lot of pendant lights also come in metal, and dome-shaped fixtures bring back the nostalgia of old-fashioned American diners. The fittings are extremely popular because they add a lot of style to a room, and they’re also relatively inexpensive.
Also, metal types of ceiling lights are much easier to clean and maintain than glass or fabric because you can easily wipe them down with a duster or wet cloth.
11. Pendant Lights
Pendant types of ceiling lights usually hang low, so they work best when you put them over surfaces, like a dining table, kitchen island, or a desk. They are very similar to chandeliers because they both hang down over an area. However, chandeliers have several bulbs and branches that can give off plenty of light and a pendant-style light will only have a single bulb and give you less light overall.
These lights are available in a huge amount of designs and styles. In recent years, bare light bulb styles have increased in popularity for any interior space that has an industrial look. These lights are also popular with a metal finish to hang over your kitchen island to mimic the feel of a diner. They’re compatible with fabric shades, and this makes them a great option for bedrooms to create a cozy and soft ambiance.
Fabric pendant types of ceiling lights give you a more ambient lighting experience than glass or metal options because the fabric diffuses the light to reduce the glare. For small areas in your home, like a corridor or an entrance hall, mini pendant lights can add a nice touch. You can put several in a row to give the area great lighting, and they also add a small touch of style to your room that would normally be bare.
Plastic types of ceiling lights aren’t very common, but you can buy them. You typically find them on pendant lights, and they are sprayed in a way to give the look that they’re metal. Plastic lights can be useful if you’re trying to save money because they are usually one of the most inexpensive options on the market. They’re also very lightweight when you compare them to metal.
13. Recessed Lights
Recessed lights are also called spotlights, downlights, pot lights, or can lights. As the name suggests, recessed lights get set into your ceiling, so they don’t usually protrude into the space. This makes them a fantastic choice if you have lower ceilings and you don’t want to hit your head on the lights or if you want to create a clean look.
This type of ceiling light gives you a light source from a virtually invisible fixture. They’re extremely popular in the United States over the past ten years because they give you great ambiance while working with virtually any interior style. This means that even if you switch up your color scheme or your room’s style, you won’t have to swap the lights. You can also layer this type of ceiling light to customize the light type you end up having in the room, from slightly low lighting to romantic. You can install one or two lights, or if you need great lighting to work, like in a kitchen, you can put this light in every two feet.
You fit these lights by creating smaller circular holes into the ceiling where you insert the body of the light. You’ll want to have roughly six inches of clearance above the ceiling level to fit the components and wiring of these lights. They’re extremely popular to install in kitchens and bathrooms, but they’ve recently gotten more common in dining rooms, living rooms, and outdoor spaces.
The main drawbacks of this type of ceiling light is that they need a professional to install them. Also, depending on how many lights you want to have in your space, they can cost several hundred dollars. This being said, the actual cost of your lights are reasonably low, and it can add value to your home while increasing your salability.
14. Semi-Flush Lights
This type of ceiling light fits to the ceiling and then extends a few inches into the room. They’re a cross between a pendant light and flush lights. Like flush types of ceiling lights, they will take up very little space and can work well with several scenarios. However, unlike flush lights, they can direct their light in all directions instead of only downwards. This makes them very well suited to create a brightly lit, vibrant environment that you can’t get with flush lights.
In terms of directional lighting, the main difference is that semi-flush types of ceiling lights illuminate the ceiling. Flush lights will keep the ceiling relatively dark. These lights come in a range of styles, and you have a greater variety than flush lights. They hang between four and eight inches below the level of your ceiling, so they’re more noticeable than flush lights while still keeping out of your headspace.
You can easily fit this type of ceiling light at home without any special experience or knowledge. This also makes it easy to change out the light bulbs when they burn out.
15. Track Lighting
You can suspend this type of ceiling light from the ceiling or choose to mount it closer to it. It has a track or rail that you get individual lights positioned on. There is a huge scope of designs to choose from, but most of them feature metal and glass or all metal. If you’re on a budget, basic track lights are available at lower prices. If you have a more design-led choice, you can pick from ultra-modern styles that can really impact the overall look of your room.
Due to the light output you get with this choice, they’re popular to install in a huge range of rooms where you need good visibility. This includes bathrooms, kitchens, children’s bedrooms, and offices. On many track lights, each light can get angled in a direction so that you can customize which areas of the room you light up. Suspended track lights are a great alternative to pendant lights or chandeliers over dining tables or kitchen lights because they give you a modern edge with bright lighting.
16. Utility Lighting
The final type of ceiling light on the list is utility lighting, and this is a no-frills light that you find in garages, workshops, and basements. They’re also very common in kitchens, but they’ve also been being replaced with upgraded interior lights to give a softer feel. These lights are inexpensive to purchase, and they sit flush to your ceiling. They’re usually several feet long, have a long bar shape, and they can come in several different sizes to suit your needs.
You’ll get an industrial feel that is very functional but that isn’t very visually appealing. Even though this type of ceiling light can seem like a very minor upgrade to your workshop or garage, it gives you excellent light that can easily transfort the space to make it much more usable. If you want greater energy-efficiency and you usually spend a lot of time in your workspace, you want to get LED bulbs that cost less, work longer, and give you very bright lights.
Important Considerations For Ceiling Light Shopping
When you start to shop for your type of ceiling light, there are some factors and features that you want to consider to ensure that you get the correct one. They include:
UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is a company that does testing on the security and safety of consumer products. When a light fixture carries a certification from UL, this indicates that it has undergone tests to determine that it’s consumer-friendly and safe. When you shop for ceiling lights, you want to double-check that the bulb has this certification.
Before you buy a type of ceiling light, you want to make sure that you verify the location rating. This is especially important if you’re trying to get a ceiling light that will be going in the bathroom as it has to be either wet or damp-rated. You can find this under your bulb’s specifications tab. A few of the more popular terms include:
- Dry-Location: This means that your fixture is designed to go in areas that get no to little moisture. So, you should only put it in your home’s interior.
- Damp-Location: This means that this fixture will work in moist environments. It also indicates that you can use it outdoors as long as it’s in a protected area like on a porch or patio. However, you’ll want to ensure that this type of ceiling light doesn’t get exposed to water directly.
- Wet-Location: Finally, this means that this fixture can get direct water exposure. You can use these lights indoors.
Additional Features to Consider
There are a few additional features that you may want to have in your type of ceiling light, and they include:
- Bulb included: Having the bulb in the fixture when you buy it is convenient because you won’t have to go out and find a bulb right away. It also means that you won’t have to worry about finding the correct wattage.
- Dimmable: The ability to dim your ceiling lights gives you more control of the fell of your space.
- Swag lights: You drape this type of ceiling light from a chain, and it dangles off of a hanging hook. You get a very sweeping, sophisticated look.
We’ve outlined 16 types of ceiling lights that you can consider for your home, and each one can help you get a different feel for the room. We encourage you to carefully sort through your options and pick out the lights that match your style while giving you as much light as you need.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.