Light Distribution_mLight

It’s 5 pm, and you’re finally leaving the office, looking forward to a well-deserved relaxation. However, before heading straight home to your apartment, you decide to make a quick stop at the shopping mall to buy a special gift for your partner for your anniversary. With the gift in hand, you go to the next stop on your agenda—a grocery store. There, you carefully select the freshest ingredients to prepare a delicious meal to surprise your partner.

How does this paragraph relate to light distribution? If you observe closely, within the same day, you encounter three locations with distinct lighting scenarios or setups. For instance, your desk is evenly lit in the office, with just the right amount of light for your tasks. In the second location, the jewellery store, your eyes are drawn to their newest products, which sparkle brightly under the light. Finally, in the grocery store, all the products on the shelves seem to pop, as if they were purposefully highlighted to catch your attention.

All these techniques are achieved by controlling the light and how it distributes, moves, and spreads from the fittings to a particular area or surface. Light distribution is key when selecting the appropriate light fixtures for your scenario. Various factors can affect light distribution, including the light source of the fixture, the diffuser, additional filters such as optics or louvres, and the shape of the lighting fixture. A diffuser is used to scatter and spread the light for a soft look, while optics give us greater control over shaping the light and directing it to meet our needs.

Light Distribution_mLight

Image 1 – Office Lighting

Light Distribution_mLight

Image 2 – Retail Lighting

Different lighting setups are used in each environment to suit the specific scenarios. The office is lit in a way to provide sufficient direct light for your tasks during the working day, with careful consideration given to reduce glare. At the jewellery store, spotlights would be placed strategically to highlight and make jewellery ‘sparkle’. At the grocery store, asymmetric optics would allow the vertical shelves to be evenly lit, making products appear bright and exciting. Choosing the suitable light distribution for a space can increase the effectiveness of the light, affect the visual comfort of the occupants to prevent fatigue and improve their performance, establish the desired ambience or setting, and when combined with high Color Rendering Index (CRI), it can positively impact retail sales. (Read more here).

Direct and indirect light distribution diagram - Commercial

Image 3 – Direct & indirect lighting

Direct lighting diagram

Image 4 – Direct lighting

Types of light distribution based on the direction and their optics:

  • Direct lighting refers to the component of light that illuminates the surfaces underneath. Various light distributions are available for direct lighting, used for general or task lighting in architectural projects.
    • Diffused: Due to the use of LED hiding and light scattering material, diffused distribution disperses gentle light across a wide area, used for generic lighting.
    • Glare Control: More focused than the regular diffused distribution, Microprismatic Glare Control uses film to redirect light that may cause glare towards the work surface to provide visual comfort for users in the space. It is ideal for task lighting in spaces such as offices and schools.
    • Asymmetric: Asymmetric optics skew the light in one direction, used predominantly in applications where a feature or object needs to be highlighted.
    • Silver Louvre: A more traditional approach to achieving glare control, louvres consist of reflective blades which redirect light that may cause glare towards the work surface.
    • Spot: Spot optics, available in various spread sizes, such as narrow, medium, and wide, are commonly utilised to illuminate specific areas that require focused attention precisely. They are typically combined with other lighting optics to create layers of light, facilitating the creation of a dynamic lighting composition for a scene.
  • Indirect lighting refers to the component of light that illuminates the surface above the luminaire, which then reflects and disperses throughout the space. This diffusion of light eliminates harsh shadows, reduces contrast and provides an even and gentle illumination, inducing mood and ambience.
    • Diffused: Similar to its direct counterpart, the diffused indirect distribution also spreads a soft light across a broad area, reflecting the light into the space.
    • Batwing-up: Purpose-built for indirect reflective lighting, Batwing Up optics redirect rays in both horizontal directions to increase the throw of light across the ceiling, creating a wider illuminated area
    • Narrow-up: Narrow-up optics offer a greater upward vertical reach and tighter spread compared to other indirect lighting optics, making them suitable for areas with high ceilings.
    • Asymmetric-up: Asymmetric-up optics modify the light to skew it towards one side.

mLight Article - Light Distribution

Image 5 – Direct & Indirect Lighting Optics Diagram

To summarise, you can begin by identifying the function and requirements of the space you are designing before selecting the suitable light distribution for your light fittings within the space. This will enable you to achieve the purpose of your space effectively.

mLight offers direct and indirect light distributions with a series of diffusers and optics for your project. You can contact your local product consultant or our projects team if you have any queries about choosing suitable light distributions for your projects.


  • Van Bommel, W., & van den Beld, G. (2004). Lighting for work: a review of visual and biological effects. Lighting Research & Technology, 36(4), 255–266. doi:10.1191/1365782804li122oa
    Wessolowski, N., Koenig, H., Schulte-Markwort, M., & Barkmann, C. (2014). The effect of variable light on the fidgetiness and social behavior of pupils in school. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 39, 101–108. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2014.05.001
  • Summers, T. A., & Hebert, P. R. (2001). Shedding some light on store atmospherics: influence of illumination on consumer behavior. Journal of Business Research, 54(2), 145–150. doi:10.1016/s0148-2963(99)00082-x
  • Reddy, N. R. V., Reddy, T. N., & Azeem, A. (2011). Role of in-store lighting in store satisfaction. International Journal of Business and Management Tomorrow, 1(3), 1-8.

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