Ceiling Lights vs. Suspension Lights
The terms ceiling and suspension are often used interchangeably. Both types of fixtures are mounted from the ceiling, but that is where the similarities end. A ceiling light is an artificial light source horizontally mounted from a ceiling to provide light below, whereas a suspension light is a fixture that hangs from the ceiling, suspended by a chord, chain, rope, or metal rod, that has the potential to project light in several directions. Ceiling lights are often the main source of general, ambient lighting in a room, whereas suspension lights tend to be accent or task-driven lighting.
Ceiling lights are a good starting point when assessing your lighting needs. They are available in a variety of styles and finishes, making it easy to select a design to complement any room décor. Many ceiling fixtures are dimmable, allowing for energy savings as well as flexibility in customizing the perfect atmosphere for any occasion.
Types of Ceiling Lights and Their Benefits
Flush Mount Ceiling Lights – These low-profile fixtures are available in a variety of forms, including drum, dome, bowl, globe and donut-shaped. Designs can be ornate, but tend to lean towards minimalist and less obstructive, blending into the existing décor. Flush mount ceiling lights are mounted in close proximity to the ceiling and are connected directly to the power source. They require less cleaning, due to lower dust and bug accumulation and are ideal for high-traffic environments and lower ceiling. Install these fixtures in environments where good general ambient light is required such as in kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, and other transition spaces. Estudi Ribaudi designed the Siss t-3212L Ceiling light fixture for Estiluz as an understated but sleek contemporary fixture in two finishes.
Semi-Flush Mount Ceiling Lights – Mounted slightly below the ceiling, so that the top of the fixture dangles on a short stem by several inches, these fixtures offer some up lighting, as minimal light escapes at the top of the fixture for greater illumination output overall. There are usually more decorative style options available with semi-flush mounts than with flush mounts. They are perfect for common areas or over dining room tables, bathtubs, vanities, lounging areas, or bedrooms. Their bulbs can be easily replaced. Lee Broom has designed a classic globe ceiling light in the form of the Mini Crescent Ceiling light, which cleverly juxtaposes solid and translucent elements.
Spot/Directional Ceiling Lights – Unlike most ceiling lights that add ambient light to an environment, spot/directional lights are task-driven, spotlighting from the direction in which they are pointing. These ceiling light fixtures focus precise and powerful illumination on any desired object or feature. Track lighting would be an example of a spot/directional ceiling light fixture. The Mira R Recessed Ceiling light by designer Omar Carraglia is an elegant example of a spot/directional fixture available exclusively at LightForm through David Groppi.
Considering Scale, Clearance, and Spacing
Ceiling light fixtures enhance their environment best when they are chosen with consideration given to their proportion, clearance, and spacing in relation to their surroundings. The wrong size/scale relative to the space it’s located in can throw off an otherwise well-executed room design. A happy-medium approach where the fixture is neither underwhelming nor overpowering the space is recommended to ensure a sense of harmony. The scale relates to a luminaire’s diameter and height; clearance relates to how low it descends related to the space below; and spacing relates to the amount of breathing room is allowed on the horizontal plane.
Flush Mount – This fixture is ideal for low ceilings with a clearance of about 7 – 8 feet, depending on the degree of traffic through the space. B.lux’s R2 Ceiling Light is an elegant flush mount perfect for living rooms with regular ceiling heights.
Semi-Flush Mount – A mid-range ceiling height of 9 – 10 feet works for this luminaire. Lower heights are acceptable for locations with less traffic. Roll & Hill’s Fiddlehead Cantilever Ceiling light is a nature-inspired semi-flush mount ceiling light that is creative and unique.
Spot/Directional Lights – These fixtures can be installed as needed at any ceiling height. Care should be taken to ensure their light is able to illuminate the desired object or feature sufficiently. Catellani & Smith’s Lucenera 206 ceiling light is great for offering directional illumination for your kitchen.
The general rule of thumb is to keep a clearance minimum of 7 feet below a fixture to ensure functional clearance. For higher ceiling clearances like vaulted or cathedral ceilings, recessed lighting and suspension lights are the best options.
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