Lighting Glossary

December 19, 2018

Lighting Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q  R S T U V W X Y Z

Accent Lighting
Lighting used to highlight certain features or items.

Alternating Current (AC)
Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction. In contrast to the other type, direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction. AC is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences, and it is the form of electrical energy that consumers typically use in lighting, kitchen appliances, televisions etc.

Ambient Lighting
This refers to the general lighting in a room including daylight.

Amperes (Amps)
The base unit used to measure electric Current in the International System of Units.

Average Life Hours
The average number of hours a light bulb will last before it stops working based on the mean failure rate in testing.

Batten Holder
A fixture that the light bulb plugs in to. These holders are connected to the wiring in your home, then installed on a wall or ceiling.

Bayonet Bulb
A light bulb base type. Identifiable by the fastening mechanism where the bulb has two pins that “push and twist” into an L-shaped mechanism on the lamp holder to keep the two parts locked together.

Beam Angle
This indicates the spread of light from the light source. A narrow beam gives a concentrated light which may be better for accent or task lighting, a wide beam gives a more general, softer light.

B22 Bulb
A light bulb with a bayonet base type. “B” refers to bayonet and “22” refers to the diameter of the base in millimetres. B22 is a bayonet bulb with a base size of 22mm. 

B12 Bulb
A light bulb with a Bayonet base type. “B” refers to bayonet and “12” refers to the diameter of the base in millimetres. B22 is a bayonet bulb with a base size of 12mm.

BC Bulb
BC is an abbreviation for bayonet Cap. It is a base type of a light bulb.
 
Brightness
An attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light. The amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a lamp or light source is measured in lumens(lm). The higher the lumen rating the “brighter” the lamp will appear.

Bulb / Globe
A round glass container with a thin piece of metal inside. It produces light when an electrical current runs through it. There are different types of bulbs to choose from to suit your indoor and outdoor lighting needs.

Canopy
Another name for a ceiling rose. This term typically used in the US.

Ceiling Rose
Ceiling roses (aka. canopies) are used to secure light fittings to the ceiling surface and provide a removable wiring point. They come in many shapes, sizes and materials.
 
Circuit
An electrical circuit is a path or line through which an electrical Current flows. The path may be closed (joined at both ends), making it a loop. A closed circuit makes electrical current flow possible. It may also be an open circuit where the electron flow is cut short because the path is broken. An open circuit does not allow electrical current to flow.
 
Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)
A fluorescent lamp designed to replace the incandescent light bulb. The lamps use a tube which is curved or folded to fit into a standard light fixture, and a compact electronic ballast in the base of the lamp. They contain electrons that are bound to mercury atoms that are excited to states where they emit ultraviolet light. This ultraviolet light is then turned into visible light as it strikes the fluorescent coating. CFLs are about 80% more efficient than incandescent globes but have some restrictions, such as dimming size and the appearance.
 
Colour Temperature
Is a method for describing the colour characteristics of light and is measured in Kelvins (K). The lower the colour temperature, the warmer (more sunset/orange) the light (e.g. warm white 2000K). The higher the colour temperature, the cooler (whiter) the light (e.g. cool white 3000K).
 
Current
An electric current is a flow of electric charge. In electric circuits this charge is often carried by moving electrons in a wire. The unit for measuring an electric current is the ampere.

Direct Current (DC)
Direct current (DC) is an electric current which flows only in one direction. In contrast to the other type, Alternating Current (AC) which periodically reverses direction. A common source of DC power is a battery cell in a torch.

Dimmer
A device used to vary the brightness of a light. By changing the voltage applied to the lamp/bulb, it is possible to lower the intensity of the light output.

Downlight
A bulb fitted in a metal case that is recessed into the ceiling so the illumination is directed downwards. They are popular with lighting smaller ceilings because  they don't have any hanging elements like pendant lights.

Electricity
Electricity is the movement of electrons. Electrons create charge, which we can harness to do work. Your light bulb, your stereo, your phone, etc., are all harnessing the movement of the electrons in order to do work. They all operate using the same basic power source: the movement of electrons.

Edison Bulb
A light bulb base type. Identifiable by the thread on the base that is used to “screw” the bulb into a matching threaded lamp holder. This keeps the two parts locked together. Called “Edison” because it was invented by Thomas Edison. The term “Edison” is also used to describe antique / vintage filament light bulbs with a carbon or tungsten filament that glows when electricity is transmitted through it.

E27 Bulb
A light bulb with an Edison base type. “E” refers to Edison and “27” refers to the diameter of the base in millimetres. E27 is an Edison bulb with a base size of 27mm. 
 
E14 Bulb
A light bulb with an Edison base type. “E” refers to Edison and “14” refers to the diameter of the base in millimetres. E27 is an Edison bulb with a base size of 14mm. 

ES Bulb
ES is an abbreviation for Edison Screw. It is a base type of a light bulb.

Filament
The slender wire inside a bulb that emits light via electrical currents. 
Floodlight
A light that provides a wide range of illumination.

Fluorescence / Fluorescent
The emission of visible light caused by the application of energy to atoms in a material. Fluorescent light bulbs have an internal powder coating and a gas which, when interaction with electricity occurs, causes the gas to emit ultraviolet radiation which stimulates the powder coating to emit visible light.

Flush Mount Light
A light fixture that is mounted flush to the ceiling.

GU10 Bulb

A light bulb base type. They have a bi-pin connector for light bulbs commonly found on multifaceted reflector lamps.

Halogen Bulb
An Incandescent bulb consisting of a filament sealed into a compact transparent envelope that is filled with a mixture of an inert gas and a small amount of a halogen (such as iodine or bromine). The combination of the halogen gas and the filament increases its life span beyond that of a standard Incandescent bulb by slowing the process of filament evaporation.

In-line Switch
An on / off light switch which is placed on the cord or lamp holder of a light fixture.
 
Incandescence / Incandescent
The emitting of light as a direct result of temperature.  
 
Incandescent Bulb
A light bulb with a wire Filament that creates visible light (Incandescence) when it is heated to a high temperature by electricity being feed through it. The Filament is protected from oxidation with a glass shell that is filled with inert gas or a vacuum.
 
IP Rating
An IP (Ingress Protection) is a classification of the level of protection of a light from solids (first number from 0-6) and liquids (second number from 0-8). The higher the number, the more protection the light has in that class.
 
Kelvins
A unit of measurement which is used to describe the Colour Temperature of a light source. The lower the Kelvin (K) number, the warmer (more sunset/orange) the light (e.g. warm white 2000K). The higher the Kelvin, the cooler (whiter) the light (e.g. cool white 3000K).
 
Lamp Holder
The electrical component that allows for the insertion of the light bulb and thereby allows for the electrical current to flow to the light bulb.
 
LED (light-emitting diode)
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that converts electricity into light when an electric current is passed through it.
 
LED Bulbs
A LED light bulb is an electric light for use in light fixtures that produces light using light-emitting diodes (LED). Most LEDs do not emit light in all directions so bulbs require multiple LEDs to be used to form the design.
The diodes require Direct Current (DC) electrical power. Mains current is Alternating Current (AC) and usually at much higher voltage than the LED can accept.  As such LEDs require an LED driver to convert the AC from the power supply to DC. In LED bulbs, the driver is built into the base of the light bulb making it suitable for use in everyday lighting fixtures. The components contained in the drivers are also what makes some LED bulbs dimmable and others not. Generally dimmable LED bulbs contain more complex components in the drivers so are therefore more expensive to purchase. LED bulbs/lamps are significantly longer lasting and more energy efficient than other bulb types.
 
LED Driver
Is an electrical circuit used to power a light-emitting diode (LED). The circuit must provide sufficient current to light the LED at the required brightness, but must limit the current to prevent damaging the LED.
 
LED Filament Bulb
These bulbs are made to imitate the vintage incandescent bulbs. They do this by stringing the LEDs together into fake filaments inside of the bulb. In filament bulbs the LEDS are stuck to a substrate, usually glass or ceramic, and then covered in phosphor. The result is a rigid “fake filament”. These filaments have a consistent yellow coating which masks the visual appearance of the actual diodes. The filaments are then arranged inside the bulb for various designs to imitate incandescent bulbs.
 
LED Soft Filament Bulb
In the same way rigid LED Filaments are made. Soft filament LEDs use a pliable substrate which enables the filaments to be used to create curved filament designs not possible with a rigid LED filament.
 
Low Voltage Lighting
Low voltage lighting systems use a transformer to reduce normal mains line voltage (220 - 240 volts) to 12 or 24 volts. It is often used in recessed, track, landscape and garden lighting applications.
 
Lumens
Lumens (denoted by lm) are a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a lamp or light source. The higher the lumen rating the “brighter” the lamp will appear.
 
MR16 Bulb
A light bulb with a reflector housing format for halogen, LED and fluorescent lamps. MR is an abbreviation for multifaceted reflector. Typically used in spotlights, track lighting etc. They have a bi-pin connector and many run on low voltage rather than mains voltage.
 
Pendant Light / Cords
A lighting fixture consisting of a ceiling rose, cord and lamp holder. Pendants hang from a ceiling.
 
Shades
A lighting accessory / feature that attaches to a fixture to direct, diffuse or decorate a light.
 
T8 Bulb
Is a light base type for fluorescent lamps with a bi pin base on each end. T stands for tubular. The number that follows the T gives the diameter of the lamp in eighths of an inch. T8 is therefore eight eighths of an inch which is one whole inch (2.54cm).

Task Lighting
Lighting used for performing tasks e.g. reading, writing, cooking. Task lights tend to provide a narrow light beam to provide concentrated light to a particular location.

Track Lighting
A series of indoor lights that are installed to run along a track.
 
Voltage
Is the difference in charge between two points. Electricity is the movement of electrons. Electrons create charge, that is harnessed for use as a power source. Mains voltage in Australia is 230V 50Hz
 
Wattage / Watts
The unit of power (W) measuring the rate of energy transfer. For example, LED light bulbs are lower watts however they still have the same level of light output as other bulbs that operate at a higher wattage to product the same light output. That is why they are called “energy efficient”.
 
 
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need help with lighting terminology.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is intended solely to provide general guidance on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. There may be omissions or inaccuracies in the information contained in this article. Accordingly, the information in this article is provided with the understanding that the author(s) and publisher(s) are not herein engaged in rendering professional advice or services.
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