Types of light fitting

It’s important to work out the needs of users so you can choose the right light fitting to suit.

Choosing the right light fitting

When you're deciding which light fitting to use, the key factor is how the unit distributes light - whether it needs to be directed down to a work area (direct), reflected onto the working area from the walls or ceiling (indirect), or something in between.

It's also important to consider how much light is lost by internal reflection and absorption - this can vary depending on the light fitting type, as well as by manufacturer, depending on the quality of materials and the design.

Find out more about the types of light available to use with your light fittings:

 Types of light

Get expert advice on lighting

Lighting is a specialist area, so it’s a good idea to talk to a qualified lighting professional. They should be IES accredited (Illumination Engineers Society).

Illumination Engineers Society (IES) website


Troffers are recessed light fittings commonly found in suspended ceilings. They can be square or rectangular and are available using LED, T5 fluorescent and T8 fluorescent technology. Typically they will have a prismatic or opal diffuser which spreads light. For specialised applications louvers are built in to the fittings to control glare. Louvered fittings need to be used correctly to make sure the ceiling and walls are adequately lit.


Downlights are round or square fittings that are typically recessed into ceilings, but can also be surface-mounted. Downlights designed to direct light in a precise direction can cause ceilings and upper walls to appear dark, so be careful how you use them. Accessories that are mounted on downlights can be used to throw some light on the ceiling.

Linear pendant

These are suspended light fittings that typically shine some light upwards. They may have specialised optics to control where light is directed. These fittings don’t always have a transparent upper lamp cover, so the luminaire could be more likely to collect dust, reducing its effectiveness.


Battens are most commonly used in commercial and industrial environments and are designed for either LED, T5 fluorescent or T8 fluorescent light sources. There are a variety of LED retrofit options now available that are designed to replace T8 fluorescent lamps while retaining the original light fitting. Battens can be surface-mounted or suspended and may have plastic covers (diffuser) or metal reflectors around the tubes. They are easy to install and can be used separately or as strip lighting. Suitable optics ensure that light is directed as required and glare is kept to a minimum.

Low bay

Low bay fittings are typically used in industrial, sporting and public areas and mounted horizontally at low heights (4m to 6m). They’re often fitted with high-intensity discharge (HID), metal halide or high pressure sodium lamps. LED options are also available which use less energy and need to be replaced less often.

Metal halide high bay

These fittings are generally used in industrial sites, are fitted with a single lamp and need only a single fixing point on the ceiling. The main drawbacks of metal halide lamps are the high running costs, rapid reduction in light output and short service life of the lamps. Unlike low bay fittings they are generally mounted higher (8m to 10m).

High bay fluorescent

These are high bay fittings usingT5 fluorescent lamps which use less energy and need to be replaced less often than metal halide lamps. Each light fitting typically has 4 to 6 lamps.

High bay LED

A range of LED high bay fittings are available which deliver significant energy savings over traditional metal halide lamps. There are a range of products available and it’s a rapidly evolving market so check with a lighting designer to discuss which options best suit your needs.