World's Best Lighting Glossary
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.
– 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, 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 light.
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 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
- 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.
- Like a cylinder, the diameter of a drum
shade is the same at top and bottom.
- 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
- Fake. Refers to finishes and materials, such as
- Decorative ornament which fastens the shade to the harp.
- Within the top diameter of a shade, three prongs
meet in a center ring where the shade fits to the harp. Also known as
- Standing lamp, sometimes referred to as "Stick", used for
- 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.
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 tissues.
Halogen- Small, hot-burning bulbs, often used for task or
accent lighting. Halogen bulbs have a longer life and provide more light
Hard-Back Shade- A shade made with a paper or vinyl
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
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 produces.
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
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)
Sconce – A sconce is an ornamental or
decorative light fixture attached to a wall. It is also called a wall
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.
- 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 efficient
Torchette- An accent table lamp that directs light
Torchiere- A standing floor lamp which directs light
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
– 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
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.