Lighting Guide Index  - Buyer's Guides - How To's & Tips - Lighting Galleries - Get The Look - Blog
How-To's & Tips - World's Best Lighting Glossary

World's Best Lighting Glossary

Posted on May 26, 2014 by Steve Brielmaier | 0 comments






Accent Lamps- Used for mood lighting, a decorative accent, or to draw attention to a particular area.

Adjustable – An accent light that you can aim on a particular object. The technical term is “adjustable accent light”. Most of the accent lighting fixtures are adjustable in some way. 

Alabaster - A type of material which lamp shades are made. Lighting fixtures can be fitted with either alabaster stone or alabaster glass. Alabaster stone is similar to marble that comes from a rock quarry, cut and shaped into the desired design which is usually expensive. Alabaster glass is less expensive.

Ambient- Ambient light, also known as "general light", is an overall level of lighting in your room. Ambient light should provide a comfortable amount of light to suit how the room is used.

Antique Finish – A type of finish that mimics the normal aging of materials like wood or metal. The effect is achieved by coating the surface of the chosen material with a dark pigment

Banker's Lamp- A type of desk lamp, traditionally with a green glass "pharmacy" shade. Newer styles come in blue, white, or yellow or even Tiffany glass.

Baffle Reflector- A device, which reflects, light downward and diffuses light upward to reduce glare. Generally used on shades with large top diameters.

Base- The decorative body of the lamp, a base can be constructed from an array of materials: metal, brass, porcelain, crystal, hydrocal, or wood to name a few. Bases should be solidly constructed to resist tipping during normal use.

Base Switch- Found on the base of a lamp, base switches add convenience when turning the lamp on/off.

Boudoir Lamp- A lamp suited for the bedroom.

Buffet Candlestick- A tall, slender accent lamp used primarily on sofa-back tables, consoles, mantels, or buffets. Buffet candlesticks are also great on bedside tables.

Candelabrum Lamp- A lamp base comprised of a decorative candlestick with several arms or branches.

Chandelier – A common overhead lighting fixture that can add style and class to an entryway, dining room, foyer, or even over a piano. It should hang around 30 inches above a tabletop or its bottom should hand 7 feet off the ground. It may come with halogen or incandescent bulbs. A dimmer switch works well with chandeliers to control the amount of light.

Color Rendering Index (CRI) - measures of the ability of a light source to reveal true colors faithfully in comparison with the perfect natural light source. Seniors should look for bulbs and lamps with CRI of 80 and above, which will especially help distinguish blue and green.

Compact Fluorescent (CFL)- Small fluorescent bulbs which often can be used in a standard medium-base socket. CFL's use 20-40% less electricity than incandescent bulbs and are color adjusted to produce light close to real sunlight.

Cove Lighting – a type of lighting system using light sources that are hidden by a recess or a ledge. It distributes light over the ceiling and the upper portion of a wall.

Decorative Bulbs – Decorative bulbs come in different shapes and wattages. From the name alone, these bulbs may have interesting shapes like teardrop, flame, candelabra and others.

Dark Sky-Dark-sky fixtures reduce "nocturnal glow & glare" from urban & coastal areas. By casting light only downward , dark sky compliant fixtures allow people to see the stars, use less energy, and reduce the effects of unnatural lighting on nocturnal animals.

Desk Lamps - Used on desks for work or study. Light source should be about 15" above work area.

Dimmer Switch- Gradually increases/decreases light intensity. Most torchieres are equipped with dimmers or high/low switches.

Downlight – A small light fixture that is hidden or recessed into a ceiling. The fixture focuses light in a downward direction.  But other designers use “downlight” for any fixture that aims light downward.

Drum-style Shade - Like a cylinder, the diameter of a drum shade is the same at top and bottom.

Empire-style Shade - Narrow on top and slightly wider at the bottom, creating a triangular shape.

Eyeball –An adjustable recessed accent light that sticks out slightly below the ceiling.
Floodlight – A high intensity light source that creates a wide beam of light. The light produced can illuminate a wall, a large object or a sign. The floodlight should come with a louver or shield to prevent unnecessary glare.

Faux - Fake. Refers to finishes and materials, such as faux marble.

Finial - Decorative ornament which fastens the shade to the harp.

Fitter - Within the top diameter of a shade, three prongs meet in a center ring where the shade fits to the harp. Also known as "Spider".

Floor Lamp - Standing lamp, sometimes referred to as "Stick", used for general lighting.

Fluorescent - Energy efficient bulbs, using 20-40% less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs.

Fluting- Deliberate vertical lines as a conscious part of design. Fluting was first found in Greek and Roman columns.

Footcandle - the light received on a surface by a one-candela source one foot away. A foot-candle equals one lumen per square foot = 10.76 lux.

Glare – Glare refers to light coming straight at the eye of the viewer from a light source or it can be light reflected from a surface aimed in the direction of the eye. Glare can create discomfort and even harm to the delicate eye tissues.

Halogen- Small, hot-burning bulbs, often used for task or accent lighting. Halogen bulbs have a longer life and provide more light per watt.

Hard-Back Shade- A shade made with a paper or vinyl lining.

Hardwired – This is a technical term which means the light fixture is permanently fixed to an electrical source. It is not hardwired if you plug a fixture into a socket.

Hardwire Lighting- Fixtures wired directly to the buildings electrical system rather than plugged into the wall socket. These include overhead, bathroom, wall sconces and track and recessed lighting.

Harp- Brass finished hardware used to secure a lampshade to the base. Harps vary in size depending on the shade depth, usually 8", 10", or 12".

Hurricane Lamp- Decorative lamp with a cylindrical glass shade. Original hurricane lamps were used with candles or kerosene and the glass cylinder prevented the candle from being blown out by "hurricane" winds. Hurricane lamps are now equipped with electric light bulbs.

Incandescent- Standard bulbs, generally from 15-150 watts. These "screw-in" type bulbs provide a warm, yellowish light that offers a cozy soft glow to a room.

LED- A Light Emitting Diode, historically used as small indicator lights on electronic devices and increasingly in higher power applications such as flashlights, desk lamps, and light fixtures. LEDs are very efficient, fully dimmable, and can even change colors.

LRV - Light Reflective Value is a measure of light that is reflected from a surface when illuminated by a light source. LRV is often seen on paint swatches and is used by designers to determine sufficient light levels.

Lumen- The amount of light a bulb emits in all directions.  Aka "luminous flux", a lumen has become the standard way to compare incandescent, LED, and CFL light sources.  One lumen per square foot = one footcandle = 10.76 lux.

Lux - Lumens spread out over a given area.  1 lumen - 10.76 lux.  Lux are probably a better way to make sure you have sufficient lighting for tasks, but since measuring lux accurately requires photometers few of us have, most comparisons use lumens. (A full moon = 1 lux, office lighting = 500 lux, Direct sunlight =50,000 lux)

Mica – A natural mineral that is used to create a translucent shade that gives off a warm glow. Mica is often used its natural color or dyed amber.

Mini Lamp- An accent lamp under 15" in height.

Mission- An early 20th century American offshoot of the Arts and Crafts Movement, furniture was called "mission" because it had a "utility of design" or Mission. Mission furniture had a simple, rectilinear style with exposed construction techniques, unpretentious materials (usually oak, with coverings of leather, canvas or plain cloth) and little or no decoration.

Pharmacy Lamp- Generally used for reading, the pharmacy can be adjusted to a comfortable height according to reading level. The metal or glass shade, usually in a tent or shell shape, swivels for direct lighting.

Pleat- A straight, flat vertical fold of cloth, common on lampshades. Soft pleats are gentle and "wavy". Hard or "knife" pleats have sharp, defined edges like a serrated knife blade.

Portable Lighting- Light fixtures that can be plugged-in to a wall socket, and that are easily moved. (i.e. Lamps)

Reflector Luminaire Manufacturer (RLM) - A fixture designed to project light downward, so barn lights might have been the original electric light RLMs.  Lighting designers today specify RLMs to prevent "light pollution" so they can comply with Dark Sky ordinances.

Sconce – A sconce is an ornamental or decorative light fixture attached to a wall. It is also called a wall sconce.

Socket- Electrical connector into which the bulb is screwed, usually having a switch located at its base. Most lamps are equipped with 3-way standard sockets. Never exceed the maximum wattage, generally shown on the socket.

Spill light – This is the light that extends beyond the object being lit

Six-Way Floor Lamp- A 3-way "mogul" bulb surrounded by three additional bulbs allows six different lighting levels. Reaching a maximum of up to 600 watts, this variation of the club floor lamp can light large areas.

Soft Shade- A shade made with a fabric inner lining and outer material. Soft shades create an elegant look.

Step Light - a lighting fixtures that is especially designed to light up stairs

Swag- Decorative motif, image of a garland of fruit and flowers or of a length of cloth, tied with ribbons and attached to a background. If tied at both ends and suspended from them in a loop, a swag is generally called a festoon.

Swing-Arm Floor Lamp- A functional floor lamp with a horizontal double-arm. Light source can be moved from side to side for reading or project lighting.

Task Lamp- Used to illuminate the area where a visual activity like reading, sewing or preparing food occurs.

Task Lighting – A lighting fixture installed to provide illumination to perform a specific task, like in the kitchen to provide more light for food preparation.

Tiffany - Loosely refers to glass-shaded lamps made from a mosaic of glass panels. Louis Comfort Tiffany applied the Art Nouveau style in his lamp designs in the early 20th century.

Title 24- The California Energy Efficiency Standards for Buildings established in 1978 to reduce energy consumption. The standards are updated periodically to reflect new energy efficiency technologies and methods. When building or remodeling in CA, be sure to comply with Title 24 standards.We have lots of energy efficient options.

Torchette- An accent table lamp that directs light upward.

Torchiere- A standing floor lamp which directs light upward.

Tray-Table Floor Lamp- A club floor with the addition of a glass or wood tray which serves as an occasional table.

Twin-Pull Desk Lamp- Convenient and decorative pulls allow for easy on/off of one or both bulbs. Well-suited for bedside lighting.

Uplight – This refers to the percentage of light directed from a light fixture at or more than 90 degrees.

Wall grazing – A lighting term that refers to the highlighting and shadow effects on surfaces like stone, brick, and drapes. Grazing creates distinctive high and low levels of light on an irregular surface. 

Wall washing – A lighting technique that creates a more or less smooth and even level of illumination on a wall. This attempts to smoothen out the texture of the surface.

Wattage- The amount of electricity consumed by a bulb.

See other articles with these tags: guides-basics
Previous   Next



Please tell us what you thought of this, and feel free to ask questions...

LampsUSA Experts will moderate your comment before we display it. Thank you for your feedback!

Other Related Articles in How-To's & Tips...

Why Upgrade Your Lighting?
Posted on June 19, 2015 by Ed L | 0 comments
How-To's & Tips - Why Upgrade Your Lighting?
Why should you upgrade your lighting? The answer is simple; because it pays you back BIG when it is time to sell.  Why not let the next buyer of your home pay for your lighting?  Plus you get the added benefit of enjoying a finer living experience. What's there not to love?

Continue reading →

Expert Living Room Ideas and Solutions
Posted on June 18, 2015 by Stephen Twining | 0 comments
How-To's & Tips - Expert Living Room Ideas and Solutions

Making your living room or family room the most comfortable, relaxing place in your home is everyone’s goal. Should be easy, right? However, we all know that creating a spot to relax takes a lot of work! Living rooms get more use than any other room in the house and need to be able to flex to accommodate multiple needs without requiring a great deal of effort. With this in mind, here are some great idea generators and solutions that will assist with making your living room the center of comfort, laughter, relaxation and making memories!

Eliminate Clutter and Add Function

This can be a major challenge as you’ll want to keep access easy and quick for the items needed for everyone’s favorite activities. The key is in providing a storage location so that these items out of the way (and out of sight) when they’re not being used. Here are a few tips that can help.

1. Coffee tables with lift tops and storage: Many of the new designs of coffee tables include some great features that really make them a multi-use marvel. With a lift top, it’s easy to bring a lap top or tablet close enough to use on a surface without hunching over or having to manage everything in your lap. While it may not be a good all day substitute for a desk or table, this is a great feature and can eliminate the need for an additional piece of furniture to create a temporary desk while on the sofa. Another big benefit with many new tables is hidden storage below the lift top, creating space that is perfect for card decks, game boards and hand held devices.

2. Ottomans: There’s a great reason that ottomans are so popular. They serve three valuable purposes! Perfect for putting your feet up while relaxing, great as an additional seating option for young visitors and ideal for blankets and pillows for family movie night!

3. Cabinets and chests: Bulky games, DVDs and video game controls used to have a home in the old TV cabinet. However, with the adoption of flat screen TVs, a lot of available storage has disappeared along with that old tube TV. A wall or corner doored cabinet can be a great replacement option, giving an easy way to hide clutter while keeping organized easy access. Angled bookcases are another lower priced option and, while they don’t provide the hidden qualities of a doored cabinet, you’ll be able to keep frequently handled items within easy access.

4. Occasional and End TablesEnd tables can be a remarkable aid to organization. Select an end table with a drawer, bottom shelf and a magazine rack side and you’ll have the best friend a clutter fighter ever had! Toss the remotes in the drawer and slide your magazines and newspapers in the side rack. Some end tables even have pull-out shelves with built in drink coasters to truly maximize the use of a small footprint. Occasional tables are always useful, providing convenience for guests but easy to move out of traffic paths when not needed.


Balanced Lighting for a Room of Many Uses!

While we all enjoy its benefits, lighting can be a bit daunting to think about in any manner other than the broadest of terms. It’s perhaps easiest if we think of lighting as three basic types: ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. When we break lighting down into these classifications, it can become much easier to create a space that meets the needs of every family member and favorite living room activities.

1. Ambient Lighting: Experts will advise beginning with the ambient light, as that is the general, everyday lighting for the living room. Frequently when we talk about ambient lighting, we’re referring to recessed or enclosed ceiling lighting that is lit by flipping a switch when you walk into the room as well as the natural light coming through windows or skylights. Another example of a source of ambient lighting would be torchiere style floor lamps which send lighting up walls and onto ceilings. A great pro tip is to install dimmers for the wall controlled ambient light. That way you can take the lights down while watching TV or when a peaceful and romantic mood is desired.

2. Task Lighting: While youngsters can often study in near darkness, as we get older we need stronger light for reading, doing craft work or just playing a game of cards. And, with the multiple user aspect to the living room, having lamps that can provide strong bright light as needed is a necessity. A popular trend is the use of Full Spectrum lamps for task lighting, as these lamps will provide the closest alternative to natural sunlight.

3. Accent Lighting: Are there unique or attractive features in your living room that deserve a shout out? Accent lighting can be used to illuminate artwork, plants and bookcases as well as fish tanks and aquariums. Accent lighting also adds texture to a room by creating visual points of interest so, in planning lighting for the living room, it can be time well spent to think about  elements within the room that will deserve special attention. Accent lighting can be fun, dramatic or just plain functional, but it will add nuance that gives a room a finished look.


Display Your Passions with Accent Pieces 

What are your special passions? What makes you feel comfortable and relaxes you? What makes you smile and laugh? These are the kinds of questions that are answered with well-considered accent furniture pieces. Make your space reflect the interests and passions of you and your family by thinking through the following tips.

1. Flowers and plants can bring unique energy to your living room and the choices are endless! From beautiful dried plants to enormous leafed ferns to exotic cacti, plants give your living room a sense of peace and an emotional center that is extremely satisfying. Kids love being involved in the plant selection process so make sure to get their point of view while identifying options. However, if small children and pets are around, be sure to research any health risks associated with specific types of house plants to avoid any potential issues.

2. Accent and Home Decor PiecesAccent pieces are so varied in style and design that it can seem daunting to begin the selection process. One trick is to select a favorite hobby or activity for family members and friends and find an accent that will bring them to mind upon sight. Accents can sit on shelving, atop mantles or on coffee tables. For true overachieving functionality Jedi masters, find accents with dual purposes, such as unique bookends or quirky picture frames.

3. Framed Photographs: Speaking of pictures, the living room is the ideal location for displaying cherished photographs of family members, friends and loved ones. Oversized frames with multi-sized picture slots are great for keepsake photos of family, while discerning decorators are always on the look-out for unique frames for holding memories both old and new.

4. Decorative Art: Framed wall art is the most universal accent as well one with the most variety in available options. From reproductions of museum masterpieces to framed movie posters, you have an endless universe of choices to reflect the passions and interests of your family. Local art shows are an excellent way to find one of a kind pieces that will generate conversation and evoke memories.

5. Mirrors and ClocksMirrors are a great way to maximize the natural light in a room. Simply place opposite any window and they’ll naturally reflect and spread the sunlight coming into your room. And don’t forget about clocks which, in addition to their obvious function, can be an awesome way to bring another visual accent to your living room!

Time For Fun and Games!

Now that we’ve straightened up and accessorized the living room, it’s time to plan for having fun and enjoying relaxing evenings. A good approach is to make a list of the activities that you and your family enjoy. Then, create an environment that can quickly and easily accommodate everyone’s favorites so that it becomes easy to say “yes” when a suggestion is offered and so that your home becomes a destination spot for friends and small gatherings.

1. Game Room: Games with family and friends are always a favorite activity. However, they’re so much more fun to host with a bit of preparation. Keeping a folding table and chairs in a nearby closet will make setting up for adult and teen board and card games a quick and easy process. As for the youngsters, the floor is always the preferred and safest location so make sure that you’ve got blankets and pillows conveniently located (that’s where the storage ottomans come in handy!). Lighting is important for all games and good solutions to consider are easy-to-install swag lights or Full Spectrum floor lamps. Don’t forget coasters and napkins stored in a convenient drawer to make everyone comfortable. From bridge to Magic to Candy Land, you’ll be ready for game night!

2. Entertainment Lounge: The days of just turning on a TV set have given way to massive 21st century home entertainment systems. But some things never change and, ultimately, what’s really important is being able to hunker down in a comfortable spot to enjoy some excitement. You’ll want to be able to dim the lights without being forced to sit in the dark or break the mood with turning on a bright light to grab drinks or snacks. A corner torchiere lamp is a great option, directing light up and away from sight lines, providing enough illumination to see without distracting from tonight’s feature presentation!

3. Peaceful Library: For many of us, there is no greater gift than quiet time with a good book. Hunkering down to read with a comfy afghan and throw pillow sounds great, but no one enjoys squinting or having to sit in an uncomfortable spot in order to be able to see the pages. Placing a floor reading lamp behind the sofa can work wonders. Many of the styles available have adjustable lamp heads, allowing the light to be redirected to accommodate multiple users and each of their “favorite spots”. With 3-way bulbs, the light’s intensity can be modified based upon time of day and the preferences of the user.

Sum It Up!

Today’s living room fills many roles. It needs to do service as a party room, game room, entertainment complex, dining area and perhaps the perfect napping spot! With a bit of planning and organization, you’ll be prepared for all possibilities. The ideal living room is reflective of the personality of the owners, with a calm welcoming spirit that puts guests at ease immediately. Whatever passions you and your family enjoy, create a living room that celebrates your life and invites others to spend time in comfort and joy.

Continue reading →

25 Lighting Tips for Seniors
Posted on June 08, 2015 by Steve Brielmaier | 0 comments
How-To's & Tips - 25 Lighting Tips for Seniors
Aging eyes are only half as effective as a younger pair.  Older eyes have trouble seeing distances, distinguishing colors and looking at small fonts and other details. The glare that younger people do not mind is a major setback for older people because of their sensitivity to it. All these complications come along with age. Proper lighting becomes the most important tool to help seniors maintain their active lifestyle.  Inadequate lighting makes it harder to do daily tasks and can be really unsafe.   With a few adjustments, seniors can see better, live safer and happier lives.  First let’s look at what is happening to our eyes as we age.

Continue reading →

Search Articles:

Have you seen this?

Related Shopping:
Related Articles:
Hot Articles:
How-To's & Tips - Benefits of Standing Up to Work
Benefits of Standing Up to Work

Top 10 Browse Everything
View all Browse Everything

$79.99    $129.99 In Stock

Homeconcept Speedy Stand Up Portable Desk Mahogany 29322MH

+Free Shipping QuickShip
$79.99    $169.99 In Stock

Dolan Designs Glass Shade Swag Lamp Brushed Nickel SO12109

+Free Shipping QuickShip
$79.99    $129.99 In Stock

Homeconcept Speedy Stand Up Portable Desk Black 29322BK

+Free Shipping QuickShip
$341.10    $568.99 In Stock

Feiss Beso 1-Light Chandelier Dark Bronze F27061DBZ

+Free Shipping
$79.99    $129.99 In Stock

Homeconcept Speedy Stand Up Portable Desk Golden Beach 29322GB

+Free Shipping QuickShip
$2,239.20    $2,799.00 In Stock

Howard Miller Howard Miller Sonoma Wine and Bar Cabinet 695064

+Free Shipping

View all Browse Everything
More Guides:
Buyer's Guides
We know you're thinking about shopping - get informed and make a great decision with our buyer's guides!
Lighting Galleries
View the hottest trends in interior design and get inspired to give your rooms a makeover!
Get The Look
Want a sneak peek into what America's best interior decorators are using this year? We bring you the HOTTEST room looks. Plus we show how you can "get the look" from America's top lighting designers for less
Catch up on the latest news, trends and stories through our dedicated LampsUSA Blog
Scroll to top