Glossary of Terms

A-Line Lamp: the type of incandescent lamp that is generally used in most indoor residential lighting applications.

Accent Lighting: lighting that is used to accent or highlight a particular object such as a work of art. To be effective
accent lighting should be approximately four or five times the level of ambient light in the area. House plants can be
accented by aiming an uplight at the wall behind the plant, creating a dramatic silhouette of the plant against the wall.

Alabaster: genuine alabaster is a very fine variety of gypsum (hydrous calcium sulfate) found in nature. It is
translucent and its color is often white, pearly, or silky colorless but it sometimes has subtle reddish-brown bands
running through it. It is often used for decorative objects such as light fixtures or figurines. Some light fixtures use faux
alabaster, which is usually man-made glass. Both genuine and faux alabaster can be very attractive; however, the
faux alabaster is generally much less expensive.

Ambient Lighting: general lighting that usually lights up an entire space

Ballast: an electrical device used with fluorescent or HID (high intensity discharge) lamps to supply sufficient voltage
to start and operate the lamp but then to limit the current during operation.

Base: the portion of the lamp that provides a means of physically connecting the lamp (light bulb) to a socket or

Beam Spread: a measure of the spread of light from a reflectorized light source, a special-shaped lamp with a
reflective coating inside the bulb to direct the light forward. The beam spread may be very narrow (narrow spot), very
wide (wide flood), or something in-between (narrow flood, for example). Examples of “reflectorized light sources” are
MR11, MR16, PAR20, PAR30, PAR38, R40, ER30, and BR30 lamps.

CSA: the Canadian Standards Association, like UL and ETL in the USA, is a not-for-profit membership-based
association serving business, industry, government, and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace. It is an
organization that works in Canada and around the world to develop safety standards that address real needs, such as
enhancing public safety and health, advancing the quality of life, and helping to preserve the environment.

Cable Lighting System: a low voltage lighting system where the mechanism holding the light fixtures and conducting
electricity to those fixtures is a pair of cables . To learn more about this topic click on this link: Cable Lighting

Cathode: an electrode that emits electrons. A fluorescent lamp cathode emits or discharges electrons to the cathode
at the other end of the lamp.

Chandelier: a chandelier is often the focal point of the dining room. As such it should be hung about 30 inches
above the tabletop and should be at least 6 inches narrower than the table on each side.

Colored Glass Filter: this term means that the glass is formed with the color in the glass as opposed to the color
being coated on the surface. This is accomplished by mixing various metal oxides in the glass composition. These
colored glass filters are primarily used for aesthetic purposes in lighting. They are NOT designed for the precise
control of the spectral bands, as are optical color filters (dichroic filters).

Color Rendering Index (CRI): a measure of a lamp’s ability to render colors accurately. The scale ranges from 1
(low pressure sodium) to 100 (the sun). A CRI of 85 is considered to be very good.

Color Temperature: a measure of the color appearance of a light source which helps describe the apparent
“warmth” (reddish) or “coolness” (bluish) of that light source. Generally, light sources below 3200K are considered
“warm;” while those above 4000K are considered “cool” light sources. The color temperature of a lamp has nothing to
do with how hot the lamp will get or how much heat is given off by the lamp. The letter, K, stands for Kelvin.

These tables may help you better understand the concept of Color Temperature.
2700° Friendly, Personal, Intimate Homes, Libraries, Restaurants
3500° Friendly, Inviting, Non-threatening New Offices, Public Reception Areas
4100° Neat, Clean, Efficient Older Offices, Classrooms, Mass Merchandisers
5000° Bright, Alert, Exacting Coloration Graphics, Jewelry Stores, Medical Exam Areas, Photography

1600° Sunrise or Sunset
1800° Candlelight
2800° Household Incandescent Lamp
3000° Warm White Fluorescent Lamp
3500° Neutral White Fluorescent Lamp
4100° Cool White Fluorescent Lamp
5000° Professional Light Booth
5200° Bright Midday Sun
6500° Heavily Overcast Sky

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL): a generic name used for a whole family of small, single-ended fluorescent
lamps with a folded, bridged, or spiral glass tube design and with high color rendering (CRI>80) and a long life
(>8,000 hours).

Cornice Lighting: a lighting system comprised of light sources shielded by a panel parallel to the wall and attached
to the ceiling and distributing light over the wall.

Cove Lighting: a lighting system comprised of light sources shielded by a ledge or recess, and distributing light over
the ceiling and possibly the upper part of the wall. To learn more about this topic click on this link: Cove Lighting.

Dimmer: a device in an electrical circuit used for varying the brightness of lamps in a lighting installation. Dimming
controls are ideal for almost any type of room because they can change the amount of lighting to suit each mood or
activity and they can help you look good. The use of dimmers with incandescent, xenon, and halogen light sources
also increases the life of the lamps and decreases the use of electrical energy. (Please see the Table below.) To
learn more about this topic click on this link: Dimmers.

Percentage Dimmed Energy Savings Lamp Life Increase
10% 10% 2 x
25% 20% 4 x
50% 40% 20 x
75% 60% > 20 x

Direct Current: electric current without alterations. DC current is usually supplied by a battery, a transformer, or
photovoltaic cells.

Downlight: a small light fixture recessed into the ceiling that usually concentrates the light in a downward direction.
Synonyms: recessed downlight, “can”, recessed can. To learn more about this topic click on this link: Recessed

ETL: ETL, like Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), is an independent, not-for-profit product safety testing and
certification organization. Throughout its long history its name has changed several times. Thomas A. Edison
established the Lamp Testing Bureau in 1896. In 1904 Edison renamed his Lamp Testing Bureau the Electrical
Testing Laboratories (ETL). In 1977 ETL officially changed its corporate name to ETL Testing Laboratories and in
1996 ETL was renamed the Intertek Testing Services, Ltd.

(NOTE: ETL Testing Laboratories, originally organized by the Edison Illuminating Companies, has been conducting electrical
performance and reliability tests since 1896. Intertek Testing Services (ITS), which acquired ETL Testing Laboratories from Inchcape in
1996, is recognized by OSHA as a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) just as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the
Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and several other independent organizations are recognized. A federal law passed in 1988
established the NRTL program to eliminate provisions that explicitly required or implied that product certification be performed only by
standard-writing companies such as UL. Since each NRTL must meet the same OSHA requirements of competency, NRTLs recognized
for the same product safety test standard are considered as equivalent in their capability to certify to that standard.)

Efficacy: a measure used to compare light output to energy consumption. Efficacy is measured in lumens per watt. A
100-watt light source producing 1750 lumens of light has an efficacy (efficiency) of 17.5 lumens per watt (L/W).

Edison’s first lamp 1.4 L/W
Infrared Lamps 6-9 L/W
Incandescent Lamps 10-40 L/W
Fluorescent Lamps 35-100 L/W
Mercury Vapor Lamps 50-60 L/W
Metal Halide Lamps 80-125 L/W
High Pressure Sodium Lamps 100-140 L/W
Theoretical max for white light 225 L/W

Emergency Lighting: lighting used when the normal lighting fails. To learn more about this topic click on this link:
Emergency Lighting.

Filament: a tungsten wire that incandescent or lights up when an electric current runs through it.

Flexible Track Lighting System: a low voltage or a line voltage lighting system where the suspended track
(sometimes called a monorail) holding the light fixtures in place and also conducting electricity to those fixtures can be
bent into creative shapes. To learn more about this topic click on this link: Monorail Lighting.

Fluorescent Lamp: a low-pressure mercury electric-discharge lamp in which a phosphor coating on the inside of the
glass tubing transforms some of the ultraviolet energy created inside the lamp into visible light.

Foot-Candle: the amount of light reaching a subject. The commonly United States unit of measurement of lighting
level (illumination) is the foot-candle (fc). The international unit of measurement of lighting level (Illumination) is the lux
(lx). The relationship between the lux and the foot-candle is 1 fc = 10.76 lux.

Four-Way Switch: a wall switch that allows three switches like this to control one lighting system. Whenever you flip
one of the four-way switches in a given circuit, the light changes its state; that is, if the light was on, it then turns off
and if the light was off, it then turns on.

General Lighting: substantially uniform lighting of a space without providing for special local lighting requirements
like task lighting or accent lighting.

Glare: direct glare is caused by light coming directly to the eye from a light source. Indirect glare is light reflected from
a surface in the direction of the eye. Both can harm vision and cause visual discomfort or disability.

Halogen Lamp: a type of incandescent lamp that contains halogen gases (such as iodine, chlorine, bromine, and
fluorine), which slow the evaporation of the tungsten filament. Also, sometimes called a tungsten halogen lamp or a
quartz lamp. The glass envelope that surrounds the filament of a halogen lamp should NOT be touched with bare
hands. The natural oil from human hands will only help to shorten the life of halogen lamps. If you should accidently
touch the glass bulb, you should thoroughly remove your fingerprints with methylated spirit (denatured alcohol). To
learn more about this topic click on this link: Halogen Lamps.

Hard Wired: technically means that the light fixture is permanently connected to an electrical source. The light fixture
is NOT hard-wired if it gets power via a cord & plug.

HID Lamp: high intensity discharge (HID) lamps have a longer life and provide more light (lumens) per watt than most
other light sources. Available in mercury vapor, metal halide, high pressure sodium, and low pressure sodium types.

Incandescence: light emission by a heated filament.

Incandescent Lamp: lamp in which light is produced by means of an element heated to the point of incandescence
by the passage of an electric current.

Infrared Radiation: a type of invisible radiation for which the wavelengths are longer and frequency lower than those
for visible radiation.

Instant Start: refers to fluorescent lamps that start instantly without pre-heating the cathodes and without the need
for starters.

Inverse Square Law: a law that states that the illuminance (E) at a point on a plane perpendicular to the line joining
the point and a source is inversely proportional to the square of the distance (d) between the source and the plane, E
= I/d?.

Lamp: a light source such as an incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent lamp. A lamp is sometimes called a “light bulb”
or simply a “bulb”. To learn more about this topic click on this link: Halogen Lamps.

Layers of Light: layers of light in a given space are created by introducing task lighting (lighting by which people
perform tasks), accent lighting (lighting used to highlight specific objects), decorative lighting (lighting created by very
attractive light sources), and general lighting (lighting that fills the space). This technique (long favored by
cameramen and cinematographers) can eliminate ugly shadows in the room and on your face.

LED: light emitting diode. A small electronic device that lights up when electricity is passed through it. LEDs are quite
energy-efficient and have very long lives. They can be red, green, blue or white in color.

Light Fixture: a complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp or lamps, a housing, and a connection to the source of
electrical power.

Light Trespass: also known as “spill light”. Light that is emitted into an unintended area.

Line Voltage: usually 120 volts

Louver: a type of “screen” made of translucent or opaque material and geometrically designed to prevent lamps from
being viewed directly within a given angle. Louvers are intended to minimize direct or indirect glare. To learn more
about this topic click on this link: Louvers.

Low Voltage: usually 12 volts but sometimes 24 volts

Lumen: a unit of measure used to describe the amount of light that a lamp (light bulb) produces or emits. For
reference please consult the table below.

4W 20 Lumens 60W 615 lumens
7W 45 lumens 75W 960 lumens
10W 56 lumens 100W 1100 lumens
15W 95 lumens 150W 2850 lumens
25W 232 lumens 200W 3800 lumens
40W 360 lumens 300W 6280 lumens
These lumen values are not absolute. These values can vary with the manufacturer of the lamp, the age of
the lamp, the dirt on the lamp, whether the lamp is clear or frosted, the voltage rating of the lamp, and the
exact voltage of the circuit.

Luminaire: a light fixture

M.O.L.: maximum overall length of a lamp — from tip to tip.

MR11 Lamp: a halogen metalized reflector lamp that measures 11/8 inches in diameter and which directs a sharp,
well-defined beam of light. To learn more about this topic click on this link: MR11 Low Voltage Halogen Lamps.

MR16 Lamp: a halogen mirrored reflector lamp that measures 16/8 inches in diameter and which directs a sharp, well-
defined beam of light. To learn more about this topic click on this link: MR16 Low Voltage Halogen Lamps.

Neodymium: a rare earth element discovered in 1885 with an atomic number of 60 in the Periodic Table of Elements.
It is a fairly common silvery metal that is used to make slightly purple glass envelopes for incandescent light bulbs, eye
protection goggles for welding and glass blowing, laser rods, filters to color correct light for art displays, and lenses
used by astronomers to calibrate spectrometers, optical instruments used for analyzing light. Using this substance in
an incandescent light bulb makes it less “yellowish” and more like natural outdoor light; however, the use of these
“daylight” light bulbs can “expose” the flaws or inconsistencies in things.

Opaque: a term that describes a material that does not transmit any visible light. A wooden door, aluminum foil, and
bricks are all examples of opaque materials.

PAR Lamp: PAR is an acronym for a parabolic aluminized reflector. A PAR lamp, which may use an incandescent
filament, a halogen filament tube, or an HID arc tube is a precision pressed-glass reflector lamp that reflects light
coming from the filament much like a parabola. PAR lamps (such as PAR20, PAR30, and PAR38) rely on both the
internal reflector and prisms in the lens for the control of the light beam. To learn more about this topic click on this
link: PAR Halogen Lamps.

Pendant: pendants can provide both task and general lighting. Equipped with shades or globes to avoid glare, they
are suspended from the ceiling over dinette tables, game tables, kitchen counters, or other work areas. When used
over end tables or night tables, they free up the space occupied by table lamps. In general, pendants should be hung
about 30 inches above the tabletop and be about 12 inches narrower than the table on all sides.

PL Lamp: a nickname for a twin tube fluorescent lamp coined by Philips Lighting, a large manufacturer of lamps.

Portable Lamp: a table lamp, floor lamp, pharmacy lamp, or reading lamp which can be easily moved and plugged
into a receptacle; officially called a portable luminaire.

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI):  interference to the radio frequency band cased by other high frequency
equipment or devices in the immediate area.  Fluorescent lighting systems and AC electronic transformers can
generate RFI.

Rapid Start: a fluorescent system that does not require starters and takes 1 to 2 seconds to emit light. The ballast
preheats the electrodes within the fluorescent lamp and initiates the arc without a starter or the application of high

Rated Life: The rated life of a lamp signifies the time at which 50% of a large quantity of these lamps will have burned
out. That means that 50% of these lamps will burn out BEFORE the rated life and 50% will burn out AFTER the rated
life. The rated life does NOT mean that every one of the lamps will last at least that long. Also, please note that the
Actual Life of a Lamp = the Rated Life of that Lamp x (Rated Voltage/Operating Voltage) raised to the 12th power. For
example, the Actual Life of a certain Lamp that is designed to be used with 130 volts is equal to the Rated Life of that
Lamp (let’s say 1000 hours) x (130 volts/ 120 volts) raised to the 12th power. The Actual Life of this Lamp is,
therefore, equal to (1000 hours) x (1.083) raised to the twelfth power = (1000 hours) x (2.61) = 2610 hours.  That
means that an incandescent lamp that has a rated life of 1000 hours and is designed to be used with 130 volts BUT is
used with 120 volts instead will have an “Actual Life” of 2610 hours.

Recessed Downlight: a small light fixture recessed into the ceiling that usually concentrates the light in a downward
direction. Synonyms: downlight, can, recessed can. To learn more about this topic click on this link: Recessed

Romex Wire: Romex wire is used throughout your household behind walls to wire your entire house. It usually is
made up of 3 wires: one wire with white insulation, one wire with black insulation, and one copper wire with NO
insulation and white insulation around all 3 wires holding them together.  The Romex wire that is used to connect
lighting fixtures is usually described as “14/2 with ground” (although this MAY vary with geographical location). The
“14/2” refers to the two insulated wires that are 14 gauge in size and the “ground” refers to the uninsulated copper

Sconce: an ornamental light fixture attached to a wall. Synonym: wall sconce. Not to be confused with a scone, which
is a flat, round cake of wheat flour.

Sky Glow: also, known as “light pollution”. The “haze” or “glow” that surrounds highly populated areas and reduces
the ability to view the nightime sky.  Specifically, light that enters the sky from an outdoor lighting system by indirect
light reflected from atmospheric particles such as fog, dust, or smog.

Specular Reflection: reflection, without diffusion, in accordance with the laws of geometrical optics; as in a mirror.

Starter: an electrical device used in conjunction with a ballast for the purpose of starting an electric discharge lamp
like a fluorescent lamp or an HID lamp.

Task Lighting: lighting that is specifically installed to light an area where a task is performed.

Three-Way Switch: a wall switch that allows two switches like this to control one lighting system. Whenever you flip
one of the three-way switches in a given circuit, the light changes its state; that is, if the light was on, it then turns off
and if the light was off, it then turns on.

Transformer: an electrical device that usually transforms 120 volts into 12 volts or possibly 24 volts. To learn more
about this topic click on this link: Transformers.

Translucent: a term that describes a material that transmits some visible light usually with some distortion. A frosted
piece of glass, a stained glass window, and paper are all examples of translucent materials.

Transparent: a term that describes a material that transmits most, if not all, of the visible light incident upon it with
very little, if any, distortion. A typical glass window pane, the air, and clear plexiglass are all examples of transparent

Troffer: a large recessed luminaire (light fixture) that often uses several fluorescent lamps, measures 24in by 48in,
and is usually installed with the opening flush with the ceiling.

UL: Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., like Electrical Testing Laboratory (ETL), is an independent, not-for-profit product
safety testing and certification organization.

Uplight: the percentage of lamp lumens directed from a luminaire at or above 90 degrees.

UV Radiation: is invisible to the naked human eye and is generally considered to be that electromagnetic radiation
which has a wavelength of less than 400 nanometers (nm) and greater than 100 nm. To learn more about this topic
click on this link: UV Filters.

Vapor-Tight Luminaire: a luminaire constructed so that a specified vapor or gas cannot enter its enclosure —
usually water vapor.

Voltage: the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit expressed in volts; the electric pressure
that exists between two points and is capable of producing a flow of current when a closed circuit is connected
between the two points; the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit;
synonyms: electrical potential, electromotive force, EMF; Formulae: volts = amps x ohms, V = I x R, voltage = electrical
current x electrical resistance.

Voltage Drop: the loss of voltage caused by the electrical resistance of the wire and the light fixtures in the circuit. It
can become especially noticeable in low voltage circuits (where the operating voltage is 12 or 24 volts). Voltage drop
may be minimized by using a thicker wire with a lower gauge wire, shortening the distance between the low voltage
transformer and the light fixtures, and/or using a DC transformer.

Wall Grazing: a lighting term that refers to the dramatic highlight and shadow effects on surfaces such as draperies,
stone, and brick. Grazing creates easily distinguishable high and low levels of light on the surface.

Wall Sconce: a luminaire affixed to the wall and usually decorative in nature. To learn more about this topic click on
this link: Sconces.

Wall Washing: a lighting technique that produces a relatively smooth, even level of illumination on the wall and
reduces the texture of the surface.

Wattage: the amount of electrical power consumed by a lamp or light fixture measured in “watts”. One watt is equal to
the power dissipated by 1 ampere of electrical current flowing across a resistance of 1 ohm or the power produced by
1 ampere of electrical current under an electromotive force of 1 volt. One horsepower is equal to 746 watts.
Formulae: watts = volts x amps, P = V x I, electrical power = electromotive force x electric current.