Best Lighting Glossary
Accent Lamps- Used for mood
lighting, a decorative accent, or to draw attention to a particular
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
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
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, Â foyer, Â or even Â 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
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.
fixturesreduce "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.
- 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.
adjustable recessed accent light that sticks out slightly below the
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
Faux- Fake. Refers to finishes and
materials, such as faux marble.
- 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".
- 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
Foot Candles- The amount of light
reaching the subject.
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
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
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.
Lumens- The amount of light a bulb
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"
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
Portable Lighting- Light fixtures
that can be plugged-in to a wall socket, and that are easily moved.
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
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
Task Lighting – A
lighting fixture installed to provide illumination to perform a
specific task, like in the kitchen to provide more light for food
- 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 withTitle
24 standards.We have lots ofenergy
Torchette- An accent table lamp that
directs light upward.
Torchiere- A standing floor lamp
which directs light upward. Depending
on the setting, can emit ambient (general) lighting or accent lighting.
Tray-Table Floor Lamp- A club floor
with the addition of a glass or wood tray which serves as an occasional
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
Wattage- The amount of electricity
consumed by a bulb.