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What is indirect lighting?

Indirect lighting is a popular way to create an inviting atmosphere in a room. An incidence of light created in a roundabout way manages to gently frame objects and makes furniture seem to float. In this blog post we will inform you about the advantages, areas of application and suitable illuminants for indirect lighting.


Anbringen einer LED-Leiste

iStock.com/Roman Budnyi


The main advantages at a glance:

  • It is free of shadows and glare.
  • Indirect LED lighting creates a unique atmosphere.
  • Modern LEDs have a long service life, are efficient and require little maintenance.
  • Indirect lighting does not have to be taken into account when planning the interior, it can easily be added afterwards.


What is indirect lighting?

With indirect lighting, the light does not shine directly on the object, but only after it has been reflected by another surface. This avoids harsh shadows and contours. Unlike direct lighting, the light is scattered in all directions and therefore has a softer effect. Bulkheads were the first lamps used for indirect lighting. Today, on the contrary, small LEDs are used to achieve this effect. It is important that the light source itself is not visible. It must be hidden behind a screen, a protrusion or a panel. This is the only way to prevent the light from shining directly into the room or onto an object.

Would you like to learn more? Then read our blogpost What is the difference between direct and indirect light?



Which illuminants are suitable for indirect lighting?

LEDs are the best choice for indirect lighting. These are available not only in various forms (for example, as strips or stripes), but also in many bright colors. Since the light should not fall directly on objects, but first reflected from floors or walls, LED ceiling or wall lights are suitable in addition to modern LED strips.


Where can I use indirect lighting?

There are countless areas of application in which indirect lighting can be used. LED strips are particularly flexible in their use. The plastic strips can be attached almost anywhere: as background lighting on the TV, on the undersides of cabinets or under the bed. Outside of private homes, the movable LED strips are also a popular means of creating indirect lighting. For example, the light strips are used in retail under shelves or as a safety indicator under the front edge of stairs. In the hotel and restaurant industry, baseboards or stucco moldings with built-in LEDs are also often used. These illuminate the room with a beautiful light without blinding guests.

Indirect lighting is rarely or never used outdoors, as the principle of operation is based on reflections, and there are hardly any reflective walls or ceilings in outdoor areas. However, if you want to emphasize certain shrubs, trees or sculptures, we recommend LED spotlights for accent lighting.


Areas of application in commerce:

  • In airports, train stations or in health care as a safety notice under stair treads.
  • To emphasize the architecture of a room, for example, on stair landings, door frames, a suspended ceiling, baseboards or ceiling moldings in catering establishments.
  • Hotels can use LED strips for floor standing or wall mounted furniture in rooms and lounges.

Residential applications:

  • In the kitchen, LED strips replace worn-out under-cabinet lights as an energy-saving alternative.
  • In the living room as TV backlighting, indirect lighting in the form of LED strips is easy on the eyes. Direct light is often perceived as annoying during the TV evening because of the glare. However, watching TV in the dark is also not optimal, because the difference in brightness is too great and the eyes have to strain.

Are you unsure whether indirect lighting suits your premises? With a simple test you can find out. To do this, place a movable desk lamp on the floor. Turn the head of the lamp upward so that your wall is illuminated from the bottom up. Do you like indirect wall lighting? The principle can also be applied to furniture either from below, the side or from above. However, don't disregard the fact that a combination of direct and indirect light is always advisable in a room - because all lighting needs must be served. Only an interplay of direct and indirect light sources creates a harmonious lighting ambience.




Why should you use indirect lighting?

Indirect lighting can make individual pieces of furniture eye-catchers in your home, hotel or restaurant. Similar to accent lighting, special items are perfectly highlighted. In the process, pieces of furniture that are perceived as heavy gain lightness as the light reflected from ceilings or walls spreads evenly, creating a soft glow. With this type of atmospheric decorative lighting, the intensity of light is reduced by reflection.

Modern LED technology offers the possibility to individually adjust the indirect lighting in terms of brightness, as well as light color and color temperature. With the optional color change of the LED strips, the light color always matches the mood: for example, use neutral cool white in the kitchen when cooking and pleasant warm white during dinner.



Symbol Glühbirne

You want to install LED strips in your kitchen? Please make sure that there must also be bright ceiling lighting. Indirect lighting is unsuitable for activities that require concentration and high vision. Due to the soft effect of indirect light, it can cause eye fatigue. Therefore, we do not recommend indirect lighting in offices unless there is another bright light source, such as a UGR <19 luminaire. Indirect light is merely a decorative element.


DIY - make indirect LED lighting yourself

There are several ways you can DIY indirect lighting. For example, for a soft ceiling light, you can attach an LED light strip to the back of a stucco strip made of styrofoam. The installation works quite easily without tools, because the LED light strips have an adhesive strip and are therefore self-adhesive. You can buy both LED strips and stucco strips in different lengths and customize them to fit your ceiling. Additionally, you can attach a dimmer or dimmable ballast to adjust the color intensity of the light using a remote control.


Another way to provide a pleasant light is to repurpose a regular wall lamp. Live creatively and make a kind of lampshade for it, which is closed after either to the sides or to the top and bottom. This way you can regulate the course of the light according to your wishes and create an atmospheric ambience. This principle can also change the lighting of a classic ceiling lamp - so you have indirect ceiling lighting in no time.



Buying indirect lighting is worthwhile regardless of whether you want to equip your private home, a hotel, restaurant or a store. LED strips create a cozy atmosphere everywhere thanks to their diffused light.