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What is Volumetric Lighting in Lighting Design?

What is Volumetric Lighting in Lighting Design?

Published on September 18, 2019

Last updated on January 25, 2024 1:01 pm


The term volumetric means that which relates to measuring volume. The term volumetric lighting apparently originated in the computer-generated graphic arts with an early application to three-dimensional (3D) gaming and computer-generated imagery in movies. 

Essentially, volumetric lighting refers to the illusion created when a lighting technique suggests a certain perspective, orientation or effect that increases, enhances or magnifies the sense of volume in a given space, context or application. For example, a shape of light, such as a cone, is directed toward a particular area, making it appear as if it’s a transparent container of a specified volume. This technique can foster — especially through the use of steam, fog or smoke — the perception that the shape of light inhabits an actual three-dimensional space. In reality, volumetric lighting draws one’s attention toward an area, creating this 3D perception.

In residential and commercial lighting design, volumetric lighting is often synonymous with task lighting, such as light fixtures designed with optics that have a luminous, distinguishable beam spread which can be purposefully directed to light art, a table, produce in a market, etc. 

For example, observe the diagram pI turned here of a grocery store’s produce department; it shows the use of volumetric lighting and spot lighting with track lighting to emphasize a display of fruits and vegetables.

This bright, intensified lighting approach uses more electricity. Accordingly, opting for volumetric lighting which uses Light-Emitting Diode (LED) reduces electricity costs. Another advantage of LED volumetric lighting is that it emits 80 percent less heat, which, in turn, benefits the shelf-life of heat- sensitive items, such as produce or cheese. In any case, volumetric lighting may be a constructive choice for you.

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