Glossary of Lighting Terms

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


A-Type Lamps

The most common incandescent household lamp or bulb; a standard general service lamp. Also known as a standard household light bulb.

Accent Lighting

Localized and directional lighting used to highlight, focus attention or dramatize a room or outdoor space. As part of a decorating scheme, it is used to spotlight paintings, houseplants and other possessions, or to highlight the texture of a wall, drapery or outside landscaping. Accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting around it.

ADA Wall Brackets

Wall-mounted fixtures that extend less than 4″ from the wall comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and are usually called ADA brackets. ADA wall lighting comes in a wide variety of styles and finishes, and is frequently used in hallways and bathrooms where space is at a premium. Learn more with our online article A Guide to ADA Compliant Lighting.


Adjustables are accent lights that can be aimed. The professional term is “adjustable accent light.” In practice, most of the fixtures used for accent lighting are adjustable in some fashion.

Aiming Angle

How you point or direct an adjustable light. The aiming angle is calculated from vertical or nadir. An aiming angle of 30 degrees is effective for paintings and/or sculptures.


Shades can be made of either alabaster stone or alabaster glass. Alabaster stone is much like marble in that it is quarried, cut and made into shades and bowls. It creates a warm, rich look, with each piece being completely unique. Stone is very expensive, however, so many lighting pieces recreate the look with more affordable alabaster glass.


The trade name used for a method of anodizing. Now a generic term for brightened, anodized aluminum.

Alternating Current (AC)

Flow of electricity which cycles or alternates direction many times per second. The number of cycles is referred to as frequency. Most common frequency used in this country is 60 Hertz (cycles per second).


A pure metal, aluminum can be shaped and finished easily. It can be dyed to a brass-like finish, but without the depth and luster of real brass. Aluminum is usually sealed through painting or anodizing to avoid oxidation.

Ambient Lighting

Also known as general lighting, ambient lighting provides an area with overall, non-specific illumination. Ambient lighting radiates a comfortable level of brightness, enabling one to see and walk about safely. It can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed or track lighting or with outdoor fixtures. A basic form of lighting that replaces sunlight, ambient lighting is fundamental to lighting a home.

American Lighting Association (ALA)

The American Lighting Association is a trade association representing the lighting industry, including lighting store retailers, lighting manufacturers, sales representatives, and lighting designers. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, the ALA undertakes public affairs, education efforts, and organizational affairs throughout the country over the course of any given year.

Lamps Plus is a proud member of the ALA, and all of our sales associates undergo extensive ALA training to become certified lighting experts. The 2014 Chair of the American Lighting Association is Clark Linstone, CFO of Lamps Plus, and the Chair Elect is Ray Angelo, president of Westinghouse Lighting.

Amperes / amps

The unit of measurement of electrical current.

Antique Finish

A finish that simulates aging, often accomplished by wiping dark pigment across a metal or wooden part.


Opening of a fixture through which light exists.

Appliance Bulb

Appliance light bulbs are specialty bulbs designed for use in ovens, refrigerators, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. They are designed to withstand extreme temperatures, such the heat in an oven range, or the cold from a freezer, without cracking or failing. Note that non-appliance bulbs are not recommended for use in these types of devices..

Arc Lamps

Most often refers to a floor lamp that has a long arc arm, from which multiple light sources are positioned. Arc floor lamps are particularly useful in large living room areas where they can be tucked away in a room corner and have the arc arm illuminate a sitting area.

Architectural Lighting

This broad term generally refers to built-in fixtures, such as downlighting, valance lighting or a luminous ceiling. Some people also include functional lighting, such as track or simple fluorescent, which has an architectural appearance.


Inert gas used in incandescent and fluorescent lamps. In incandescents, argon helps retard the evaporation of the tungsten filament.

Art Deco

A mainstream design style that reached its heyday in the 1920s. Typified by streamlined design shapes, geometric patterns, bold outlines and the artistic use of industrial materials, such as stainless steel, plastic and pressed glass.

Art Nouveau

A decorative art movement that emerged in the late nineteenth century. Characterized by dense asymmetrical ornamentation in sinuous forms.

Average Rated Life

The number of hours required for half of a large group of lamps-bulbs to fail or burn out. The actual life of any lamp or small group of lamps will typically be different from the average rated life. You’ll find the average bulb life listed in the descriptions of the light bulbs we sell.



Part of the fixture that blocks light to prevent glare and control brightness. Baffles may be integral blades, plates or grooves or an accessory. Baffles are often painted black to absorb light.


Electrical or electronic component required for fluorescent (and HID) lamps. Ballasts provide enough voltage to start the lamp and then limit the current for continuing operation.

Banker Lamp

A desk or table lamp, usually in a traditional style, that has a rectangular cased glass or metal shade. So-called because they were common fixtures in banks in the first half of the 20th century. This style is also sometimes called a piano lamp. Browse our full collection of banker and piano style lamps.


The end of the lamp that inserts into a lamp socket. The end or ends of a lamp that makes electrical and mounting connections.


Bath or vanity lighting refers to fixtures used to light the mirror in a bathroom. A bath strip is a long fixture that mounts along the top or sides of the mirror. Also see “bathbar lighting.” Find all the styles we have to offer in our selection of bathroom lighting fixtures.

Bathbar Lighting

These fixtures supply task lighting, while supplementing the general lighting provided by ceiling fixtures. Similar to lighting in theater dressing rooms, these softly glowing lights are most often arranged in a row / bar fashion to provide excellent lighting for shaving and grooming.

Beveled Glass

Clear glass, often with a high lead content, with edges that are cut on an angle to add depth and glitter.


Move the airflow in a ceiling or desktop fan. Blades are made of plywood, laminated woods or plastic. A ceiling fan may have from one to five blades, depending on the style of the design. View all the ceiling fan styles we have to offer.

Blade Holders

Irons that hold a ceiling fan’s blades.

Blade Pitch

Angle of the blade iron or blade holder on a ceiling fan. Fans with a higher degree of blade pitch will move more air.

Blown Glass

Hand blown glass is created by artisans who blow air into a molten balloon of glass. The artisan’s skill determines the shape and texture of the finished piece.


The saucer at the base of a candle originally designed to catch the molten wax drippings of the candle. Used on chandeliers, sconces, etc.


Lights mounted on short, heavy piers or posts. They are used mostly for larger residences and campus settings.

Bound Glass

Glass elements held together by metal strips, typically brass or copper; includes Leaded Glass, which has a heavier look.


An alloy of zinc and copper, brass forms and polishes easily. Solid brass means the fixture is made entirely of brass, rather than a brass-plated material.


Harder than brass, bronze is used for its durability, especially in high-grade outdoor lighting.

Brushed Finish

Satin or lightly textured finish, usually on metal, produced by brushing with a wire wheel or buffing with a fine abrasive.

Built-In Lighting

Built-in lighting generally refers to lighting equipment mounted into coves and cornices, behind valences, or integrated into furnituire and bookcases.


The everyday term for an incandescent lamp. Also refers to the outer glass envelope of the lamp.



Multiple wires arranged in a common covering of insulating plastic or other materials, used as an electrical conductor.

Cased Glass

Glass consisting of a layer of clear glass fused to a layer of opal or other tinted glass. Cased glass transmits light more efficiently than opal, with more luster and better diffusion. Cased glass can be blown or molded.

Candlea (cd)

The unit of measurement of luminous intensity of a light source in a given direction.


Luminous intensity of a particular light source expressed in candlea.

Candlestick Lamp

A fixture that has a tall, slim column, taken after traditional candlestick lighting. Also known as a console lamp.


Fixture part that covers an outlet box.


Another term for recessed downlights.


Pouring or forcing metal or glass into a prepared mold or any part manufactured in this manner.

Ceiling Fixtures

Provide general lighting. They are practical in busy areas such as foyers, hallways, bedrooms, kitchens, baths, laundry rooms and dens. They are available with incandescent, fluorescent and energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

A close to ceiling light fixture is sometimes referred to as a flushmount if it installs flush with the ceiling surface with no gaps.

By comparison, a semi-flushmount design extends a few inches down from the ceiling surface on a short rod. Chandeliers and pendant lighting is also sometimes referred to as ceiling fixtures.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans consist of (from top to bottom) a canopy with hanger ball, a down rod, the motor, blades, and light kit.

They are useful at creating a constant breeze and air movement which helps make a room feel more comfortable to be in.

In winter, many fans can be reversed so that they help circulate warm air from the ceiling back into the room space.

We carry a wide range of ceiling fan designs at Lamps Plus, including hugger fans and styles suitable for outdoor use.


CFM, or cubic feet per minute, a rating measurement that refers to the amount of air a particular product is capable of moving.

The measurement is associated with bathroom exhaust fans and other products such as indoor and outdoor ceiling fans.

Generally, the larger the CFM rating, the more powerful the design and the more air it will move.

Chain Pliers

Tool with jaws that open as you squeeze the handles together. Used to pry open links of chain to change the suspension height of a chandelier or other fixture.


Chandeliers are lighting fixtures that hang down from the ceiling on a chain or wire. They offer general room illumination and crystal or colored glass designs can provide sparkle to dining areas and entryways.

They are also used in bedrooms, foyers, over a living room furniture grouping, or over a piano. Some are designed with downlights or use shades to provide task lighting for homework, reading or cooking.

Chandeliers are available in both incandescent, halogen, and LED models. The addition of a dimmer control allows you to alter the intensity of the light to suit your mood or time of day. We carry a wide range of chandelier styles for your home, including a wide range of exclusive designs.


In dimming controls, a group of fixtures that are operated together, generally of the same type or for the same function.


A blown glass tube of various shapes placed around flame to protect it against wind. In today’s usage, it is for ornamentation and light diffusion.


Chrome takes a high, lustrous finish. A softly brushed chrome finish simulates stainless steel, but without the durability and depth.


Wiring path for electricity, including conductors, load and circuit protection.

Circuit Breaker

Resettable safety device to prevent current flow or prevent excess current flow.


Piece that is used to clip a shade onto a light bulb.

Colonial Style

Reminiscent of pre-revolutionary America, this style emphasizes clean, simple lines, though it may also refer to a more ornate style which relies on curving lines and scroll work.

Color Rendering Index (CRI)

The Color Rendering Index (CRI), also referred to as the Color Rendition Index, is a measurement of the ability of a light source to reveal the true colors of objects in comparison with an ideal or natural light source.

The CRI is expressed on a scale from 0 to 100 percent. The higher the CRI, the better the color rendering ability of the light. Halogen is considered a “reference” light source and has a CRI of 100. Light sources with a lower CRI may make colors appear muted or faded.

Because the Color Rendering Index is a way to describe how a light source makes the color of an object appear to the human eye, it’s a very useful tool for designers and lighting experts. For example, light sources with a very high CRI are used in applications such as photography, video work, and film cinematography.

Color Rendition Index (CRI)

Another phrase for the Color Rendering Index; see above.

Color Temperature

The appearance of  light in terms of warmth or coolness; specifically, the color tone of a light source when illuminated as measured in degrees Kelvin (K).

Technically, it is the temperature of an ideal black-body radiator that radiates light of comparable hue to that light source.

The Kelvin range is typically broken down as follows: Warm – 0 – 2900K; Bright White – 3000K – 4900K; Cool Daylight – 5000K – and above.

Older incandescent bulbs have a warm light at low end of the scale.

At the high end of the scale, light can take on a bluish hue that is frequently used for store display areas, security lights and more.

New light source technology such as LEDs can be made to produce light in any color tone, from warm to bluish white.

Compact Downlight

Small recessed incandescent fixtures generally five inches deep.

Compact Fluorescent

Also called a CFL bulb, these are small fluorescent lamps that are often used as an alternative to incandescent lighting. The bulb-lamp life is about ten times longer than incandescent lamps and is 3 to 4 times brighter. Also referred to as PLI DL, CFL or BIAX lamps.

Contemporary Style

Contemporary style can have many different meanings, but, for home lighting, it refers to lighting designs derived from the industrial styling of Modernism.

Lighting in this style tends to be devoid of ornamentation, and shows a blend of function and form. Brushed metal surfaces, the use of plastic materials, sleek streamlined forms, and geometrically shaped glass shades and bowls predominate.

At Lamps Plus, we carry a large assortment of contemporary lighting and home decor. Brands such as Possini Euro Design, Holtkoetter lighting, Robert Sonneman, ET2, LBL lighting and others are known for their contemporary designs.


A soft, pure metal, usually used for accent detailing. It oxidizes to a distinctive green color when exposed to the air.

Cove Lighting

Light built into a cove, a shelf or ledge at the upper part of a wall, to illuminate the ceiling. Typically fluorescent, cold cathode or low voltage strip.

Crystal Glass

Fine quality transparent glass. May be used in table lamps, chandeliers and floor lamps in a variety of styles and cuts. See also Lead Crystal.

Cylinder Down Lights

An outdoor fixture that can be mounted to a wall or an overhang to aim light directly onto paths and porches.


Damp Location

A listing designation for fixtures, ceiling fans and more that may be installed and used in an area exposed to some moisture, but not fully exposed to the elements. Locations for these types include bathrooms or covered porch areas. Damp Location is different from Wet Location, in that Wet Location fixtures can be installed directly in an exposed, wet area. Outdoor ceiling fans, for example, can be either damp or wet location rated. Outdoor hanging lights are mostly damp location, and must be installed under a covered porch or patio overhang. Depending on where a fixture is going to be installed, you’ll want to choose either Wet or Damp Location as a rating. See our glossary entry on Wet Location for more information.

Dark Sky

Refers to outdoor lighting that direct light downwards to the ground rather than out to the sides or into the night sky. This type of design meets “dark sky” ordinances that many cities have enacted in order to control light pollution. Different types of reflectors, shields, cut-off angles and bulb types may be used. There are many styles of Dark Sky lighting available. To learn more, read our Guide to Dark Sky Outdoor Lighting.

Deck Lights

Deck lights typically mount to the outside of a home or to the railing of a wooden deck. Since they are located near where people sit, good shielding and proper mounting height are important to reduce glare. Deck lighting designs are often part of a low voltage landscape lighting system.

Decorative Bulbs (D)

General service bulbs available in a variety of wattages and shapes. Decorative bulbs include flame, teardrop and candelabra shapes, among many others. Color bulbs are also sometimes referred to as decorative. Our complete light bulb assortment offers many styles and types of decorative light bulbs for sale.

Decorative Fixtures

Decorative fixtures help establish the tone and style of a room. Decorative fixtures are meant to be seen, which means their brightness should be kept low enough to avoid glare. Hanging chandeliers, pendant lighting, swag style plug-in chandeliers, and multi light pendant designs are among the many examples of these types of fixtures.

Dichroic Coating

Film that reflects visible light and transmits infrared light. Reflector lamps with dichroic coatings, such as most MR16s provide a cooler beam because most of the heat goes out the back. Dichroic PAR lamps are often called “cool beam.”

Die Casting

Casting in a reusable mold (the die). Die-casting are generally precisely manufactured parts requiring a high initial investment in the die.


Light control device that spreads light by scattering it. Opal glass and plastic, etched glass, fabric and paper shades act as diffusers.


A control that varies the output of the light source by reducing the voltage or current to the lamp. A dimmer control can either be wall mounted at a switch location, or seen as a feature on portable lamps. Cord dimmers are also available.

Direct Lighting

Lighting that casts all, or at least 90%, of its light downward. The term can also refer to the distribution of light or the fixtures that produce this type of lighting. With intense beams, direct lighting is very dramatic, rendering forms and textures well. Typical fixtures include recessed lights, track lights, some pendant lights and task lights.

Direct-Indirect Lighting

Light comes from up and down. This light is well balanced and pleasing. Light that is predominately direct is also called”semi-direct.” Typical fixtures include most pendant lights, wall brackets and wall valances. Uses include task/ambient lighting over tables and in hallways.


Downlights usually refer to recessed downlights. However, some designers use the term to describe any fixture aiming straight down.

Direct Mounted

Direct-mounted fixtures are typically bowls that are fastened to a ceiling holder. Most use diffusers of glass or acrylic. Beveled glass is also popular. These fixtures work best for low to moderate light levels.

Dual Mounting System

This term refers to a ceiling mounting system that is seen on ceiling fan designs. A fan that has a dual mounting system can be installed with a downrod, or it can be mounted flush to the ceiling with the use of the downrod. Many fans are either flushmount style mounted or else must be mounted using a downrod, but not both. If you want the flexibility of a dual mount fan, it’s important to read the specifications of the individual fan you are thinking of purchasing. The fact that a fan is dual mountable will be listed in the copy description for each individual fan.


Dusk-to-Dawn refers to a special type of outdoor lighting that comes equipped with a built-in photo-sensor. The photo-sensor detects the amount of sunlight and automatically turns a light on at dusk, then off again at dawn. Because dusk-to-dawn outdoor lights are on all night, they are a handy feature for turning lights on when you are not home or for lighting garage areas, sheds, or vacation homes. Look to energy efficient designs that use less energy. LED and solar-powered designs are both available.


Eclectic Design

A style of interior decorating that mixes different styles and period of lighting and furniture.


A term applied to lighting and home furnishings that usually refers to the manufacturing process or the construction. Eco-friendly designs may be manufactured in a way that minimizes the use of chemicals, made with renewable materials such as bamboo or jute, or created from recycled or reclaimed materials.


A designation and label given to consumer products when they meet energy efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program established in 1992 with the aim of helping  businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. In order to earn the label, ENERGY STAR products must be third-party certified based on testing in EPA-recognized laboratories. There are a wide range of ENERGY STAR- rated lighting designs on the market. While not being ENERGY STAR rated, there are also many energy efficient lighting styles available.

Entry Lights

This term most often refers to outdoor wall lights at the entry of a home that help guide visitors and provide security. These designs can also be used to light breezeways.

ER Lamp

Ellipsoidal reflector lamp is a soft glass lamp that focuses the beam about two inches in front of the bulb. It is designed to improve the efficiency of deep baffle recessed downlights, but is often misused in residential applications, where it may stick down from the fixture.

Etched Glass

Glass treated by an acid bath, producing a satiny, diffused surface or design.

Extended Life Lamp

Incandescent lamp with 2500+ hours of rated average life and reduced output; uses a stronger filament.


A recessed, adjustable accent light that protrudes slightly below the ceiling.

Extension Pole

Used to adapt a fan to high ceilings, lowering the fan from the ceiling.


Piece used to make height adjustments for the shade on the harp.



Side of a prism, seen most often in crystal glass chandeliers and other wall fixtures.

Fan Blade Screws

On a ceiling fan, screws that hold the blade irons to the blades.

Faux Stone

Plaster and other material can be molded and textured or finished to look like real stone. Genuine stone is usually too heavy for the body of a light fixture, but is popular for the bases of portable lamps, where weight is an advantage.

Figure Lamps

A staple of Art Deco design and lighting. From this period most figure lamps portray a female figure, often holding a globe shade. Victorian figure lamps often involve cherubs or young maidens. Animal and Cartoon figures in children’s lighting are more modern examples.


The tightly coiled tungsten wire of an incandescent lamp; glows to produce light when electricity flows through it.

Fill Gas

In incandescent lamps, usually argon or krypton with trace nitrogen. In fluorescent lamps may be argon. Halogen is used in halogen incandescent lamps.


Screws in the top of a lamp shade harp to keep a shade securely on a lamp. Finials on a lamp shade also serve a decorative purpose. The term can also be used to describe any decorative element that’s placed at the top of a lighting or decor design.


Part of a fixture that accepts a glass or plastic globe. The diameter of the fitter determines the size of the neck or opening in the globe.

Fixture Types

Fixtures are described by their mounting and lighting qualities. Types include chandeliers and lanterns, diffusing and shaded pendants, wall-mounted lighting, close-to-ceiling fixtures, outdoor fixtures, portables and ceiling fans.


The wide distribution of a reflectorized lamp, abbreviated FL. Also a fixture with a widespread light throw.


Floodlights create a widespread distribution of light, perfect for illuminating a wall, sign or large object. A floodlight should be well shielded with an accessory louver or shield to avoid stray light and glare. You can also use plants to block unwanted light.

Fluorescent Lamps

Lamps which operate by creating an electric arc inside a gas-filled tube. The color of the light is determined by the type of phosphor coating used in the lamp. Newer types of fluorescent lamps are known as CFL light bulbs, and offer energy savings over traditional incandescent bulbs.

Fluorescent Troffers

Recessed fluorescent fixtures for 2 foot and 4 foot lamps, generally in modular sizes; used commercially.


Flushmount is a type of ceiling fan that mounts directly to a junction box, and does not have a down-rod to maintain maximum clearance from the floor. Also sometimes called low profile or hugger style ceiling fans. This term may also refer to so-called flushmount style ceiling lights, where the design of the light has it sitting flush or nearly flush with the ceiling surface.


Unit of illuminance (light falling on a surface). One lumen falling on one square foot equals one-foot candle. Also, a measurement of the amount of light reaching a subject.

Frame-In Kit

Part of a recessed downlight connected to the electrical circuit and generally installed when the ceiling is open. The electrified mounting form or housing which supports the optical assembly of a recessed fixture. Frame-In Kits are of various types according to the nature of the construction and the lamp.

Framing Projector

Fixture with lens and shutters, creating an adjustable, sharp-edged beam to outline pictures and other objects.

French Country

The French country style relies on the warm tones of the Provencal countryside, golden yellows, pure blues and deep reds. Lamp materials can be in wrought iron or antique finishes and the rooster theme is seen frequently. Learn more about all the current style trends in the Lamps Plus Shop By Trend design section.


G Lamp

Globe-shaped incandescent, generally for exposed use.

General Lighting

Also known as ambient lighting, general lighting provides an area with overall, non-specific illumination. General lighting radiates a comfortable level of brightness, enabling one to see and walk about safely. It can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed or track lighting or with outdoor fixtures. A basic form of lighting that replaces sunlight, general lighting is fundamental to lighting a home.

General Diffuse Lighting

General illumination from light cast evenly in all directions. Typical fixtures include pendant globes, chandeliers, and some table lamps.

General Service (A) Bulbs

General service bulbs are inexpensive and are readily available in a variety of wattages and shapes. They produce a yellowish white light that is emitted in all directions. Available in either clear or frosted versions.


The term Giclee refers to the process of making a fine art print using an inkjet printer. The word comes from the French word for nozzle or spray, “gicleur”. Giclee prints were first used for fine art printmaking back in the early 1990s. Fade-resistant, archival quality inks are used in the process, as are archival type paper or canvas. The giclee process is also used in the manufacture of high quality lamp shades. Lamps Plus holds a patent on the giclee art shade making process, U.S. Patent # 7,347,593. Many of our giclee art shade patterns for sale are based on original artwork or are licensed from well-known designers.

Gimbal Lighting

An adjustable ring that holds the PAR or MR lamp by its rim. A gimbal ring track fixture has no housing.


Bright lighting that causes discomfort and impairs good visibility. Possible causes may be light sources that are too bright for the application, or fixtures that may not conceal bulbs sufficiently, among many others.


A gooseneck lamp is a type of desk lamp, table lamp, or fixture that has a long adjustable arm with a light source. Gooseneck desk lamps, for example, can be adjusted by moving the long gooseneck arm, so that the lamp doesn’t have to be re-positioned.

Grazing Light

Directional light at an acute angle, which emphasized texture. The sources of grazing light must be close to the surface. See also Wall Grazing.


On a ceiling fan, the lower part of the housing, which has many different designs.


Connecting electrical components to earth for safety.

Grow Lights

A specialty light or bulb with a light spectrum that is scientifically calculated for plant growth. New LED designs are much more energy efficient, have quiet, built-in fans, and a low heat output. View our complete assortment of grow lights for indoor plants, or read our online tips article to learn more.


Hall / Foyer Fixtures

Can create a welcoming atmosphere, while providing you with general ambient lighting. Use hanging chandeliers, chain-hung designs, or close to ceiling fixtures for lighting in hallways, stairways and entrance halls.

Halogen Bulb

An incandescent type bulb with halogen gas fill and a quartz glass capsule. The quartz capsule requires a separate glass shield or enclosure. Due to the halogen cycle, halogen lamps operate at higher internal temperatures, producing more lumens per watt and brighter light than ordinary incandescent bulbs. Bulb-lamp life is also extended. Halogen bulbs include A, MB, T, PAR and MR types. We carry a wide range of replacement halogen light bulbs. Read more about halogen bulbs in our online article How a Halogen Light Bulb Works.

Hammered Glass

Glass seen most commonly on outdoor fixtures that has a rippled, pitted, “hammered” antique look. To produce this type of look, molten glass is rolled across a mold or form to emboss it with the desired pattern. When illuminated from within, this type of glass creates beautiful patterns of light that are prized for porch and entryway lighting. Browse our collection of outdoor wall lights to view examples of this type of glass.

Hand-Blown Glass

Individually produced glass made by artisans who blow molten glass into different decorative forms, hand-shaping the final design. In this technique, glass is heated in an oven to a molten state. A long tube or blowpipe is used to blow air into the glass, creating a bubble or hollow form. The glass is then manipulated by hand to form the final shape. Hand-blown glass is also sometimes called “mouth blown”, though not all mouth blown glass is hand-shaped, and mouth-blown glass can be shaped using a mold or other form. Hand-blown glass is frequently seen on wall sconces, pendants and table lamps. Each piece of glass is unique and will vary slightly in terms of color and pattern.


Used to attach a shade onto a lamp.


A shade that is lined with a molded plastic form to make the design more rigid.

Heat Ratings

Like recessed downlights, surface mounted fixtures must pass heat tests to assure they do not affect combustible ceiling materials. This limits the maximum wattage in these fixtures, and sometimes necessitates the installation of high-temperature wiring. Always follow the labeled lamping; never use higher wattages or different lamps.


A threaded pipe coupling with a side opening used in wiring a luminarie and for attaching a fixture to an outlet box.


Main body of a ceiling fan that connects the motor and other components.


On a ceiling fan, another name for “Switch Housing.”

Hub Cap

Lower part of the switch housing on a ceiling fan hub. On some fans this part is removable.

Hugger Fan

Refers to a ceiling fan that has a flush mount installation. A hugger ceiling fan design lies close to the ceiling, making them ideal for rooms with low ceilings, small rooms, or for any location where ceiling height is of concern. Also sometimes called low profile or flushmount style ceiling fans.

Hurricane Lamp

A lamp, most often a table lamp, having a distinctive globe glass housing for its bulb, and a clear or colored glass decorative chimney. This type of style is patterned after 19th century oil and candlestick lamps, where the globe held oil and the chimney was the vent. Modern hurricane lamps are a popular look for traditional and country-cottage style homes. They come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and often feature decorative floral designs and ribbed or textured glass. Browse our collection of hurricane lamps to learn more.


IC Fixture

This term refers to an Insulated Ceiling Fixture that is a recessed lighting downlight suitable for direct burial in thermal insulation. Called type IC.


In home decor, industrial style refers to a popular decorating style that features the used of lighting and furnishings with the look of aged woods and worn bronze metals with a patina of age. The look draws heavily on early 20th Century utilitarian designs seen in factories and workshops. Industrial may also refer to types of commercial lighting fixtures that are intended for use in manufacturing plants or factories.

In-Ground Uplights

These outdoor accent lights provide maximum concealment because the source is recessed into the ground. Both line and low voltage sources are available.


Light produced by heating material so it glows. Incandescent filament lamps, candle flames and glowing coals are all examples.

Incandescent Lamp

A type of lamp, or light bulb, that produces light with a wire filament, which creates light as it is heated by electric current. Read more about the process in our online article How an Incandescent Light Bulb Works.

Indirect Lighting

Lighting that directs all or most light upward for ambient or general illumination; comfortable illumination with few shadows. Typical fixtures include uplight cans, fluorescent lighting aimed up, track lights aimed up and torchieres.

Inside Frosted Lamp

Incandescent A lamp with a light etching or sprayed on diffusing coating on the inside of the bulb. Designated as IF.

Insulated Ceiling Fixture

Recessed down-lighting suitable for direct burial in ceiling thermal insulation. Called Type IC.

Integrated Dimming Systems

A dimming switch that allows you to create multiple preset lighting scenes within a room. Scenes can be recalled at the touch of a button from a single wall box or with a hand held remote control.

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a non-profit, non-governmental international standards organization for all things electrical.

Founded in 1906, the IEC creates International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. These are known collectively as “electrotechnology”.


On ceiling fans, a two-wire computerized system with wall control convenience that gives independent control of lights and fan. It has a silent multi-speed operation for the fan and provides variable light intensity.

IR Lamp

Infrared-Reflecting Halogen Lamp. A special interior coating redirects infrared energy onto the filament, which increases output without added power.


A strong metal, iron imparts a natural quality to a lighting fixture. Wrought Iron is heated and hammered into shape, and can be formed into pleasingly fluid forms.



Plug-in stem used in low voltage fixtures.

Junction Box

Enclosure that protects spliced wires and supports surface fixtures, such as wall fixtures or ceiling fans. Also called an outlet box.



Scientific unit of temperature. Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale.

Kilowatt Hour/KWH

A unit of measurement for electrical energy. One kilowatt hour equals 1000 watts of energy used for one hour.



Clear coating that protects metal fixtures from rusting or tarnishing. May be tinted in various colors by adding colored dye.


A lamp can refer to a light source, such as a light bulb, or to a light fixture that creates light. Used in this way, the term “luminaire” is recommended for technical use over the term “lamp” by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Lamp is also commonly used to describe a portable fixture design that can be easily moved from one room to another, such as a decorative table lamp or a more specialized desk lamp design.

Used in this sense, a lamp usually consists of (from bottom to top) a stand, a base, a mount through which the electrical wiring travels, a neck, a socket to hold the bulb, a lamp shade, a harp that connects the top of the shade to the socket, and a decorative finial that holds the harp in place.

Lamp Holder

Socket inside a housing, which holds the lamp in place and connects it to the electrical source.


Equipping a fixture with a lamp.

Landscape Lighting

Lighting specifically designed for lighting gardens, yardscapes, and outdoor pathways. Most landscape lighting operates on low voltage systems. These systems plug into a grounded outdoor outlet, and use a transformer to step the household current down to a current level that is safer for outdoor use. However, some older home systems and many commercial systems are direct wire. Complete landscape light kits are available that include the transformer, lights and cable. LED is rapidly replacing all other types of outdoor lamping, as it is more energy efficient.


Unlike chandeliers which are oriented radially, lanterns hang vertically, often with several tiers. Modern pendant lanterns use hanging glass panels or glass rods, often with beveled edges to reflect the light.

Lava Lamp

This type of novelty lamp was invented in 1963 by British accountant Edward Craven-Walker. The lamp uses an incandescent bulb to heat a wax mixture suspended in mineral oil or other liquids that are inside a tall tapered glass bottle. As the wax heats it flows to the top of the glass, where it cools and then flows back to the bottom again. The ebb and flow of the wax has the appearance of a lava flow, lending the lamps their distinctive name. Rather than produce light for illumination, the lava lamp produces a never-ending show of motion and mood. The lava lamp was very popular in the 1960s, and has retained a retro cool appeal to this day. True lava lamps are manufactured by the Mathmos company and carry a Lava brand trademark. Lamps from other manufacturers are called “motion lamps”, not lava lamps.

Lead Crystal

Fine quality glass having a high content of lead oxide.

Leaded Glass

Small pieces of glass joined at the edges with metal, traditionally lead.


LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. An LED is a small, solid state semiconductor device that emits light when conducting an electrical current.

The birth of the LED goes back as far as the early years of the 20th century, when electroluminescence was discovered by British scientist H. J. Round. The modern principles of commercial LED technology was researched by Japanese scientists Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura in the early 1990s. The trio were eventually awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in October, 2014.

LEDs are used to indicate dimmer or control status, are found in signs and control units, and are increasingly seen in light bulbs and built-in light sources on everything from chandeliers to desk lamps.

As a technology, LEDs have made a huge impact in the lighting industry. Because LEDs can be embedded or built-in to just about any product surface, they have led to a range of new shapes, forms, and profiles in lighting design.

LEDs are also very energy efficient, offering the same amount of light output (lumens) as other light sources, but at a mere fraction of the energy used.

There are a wide range of LED lighting designs available in the market today, with more being added all the time. Read more about LEDs in our article How an LED Light Bulb Works.

Lighting Controls

Devices which give you flexibility, decorative effects and multiple uses from your lighting sources. Today’s sophisticated dimming systems enable you to lower the light level to conserve energy and increase bulb life; vary the mood of a room; alter light source intensity; create lighting scene in each room. Types of controls include integrated dimming systems, touch dimmers, slide dimmers and rotary dimmers. Shop our full assortment of dimmers and lighting controls.

Light Distribution

Pattern of light produced by a fixture, or created in a room.

Light Sources

The performance of any light fixture depends on the light source, or bulb, that’s used. Different sources produce different effects.

Line Voltage Systems

120 volt distribution is used mostly for lighting mounted to the outside of a house or for post-top lanterns along a drive or path. Line voltage landscape lighting can provide more light and handle greater distances than low voltage systems, but the installation is less flexible and more costly.

Low Profile

May refer to any ceiling fixture that installs so that it hangs close to the ceiling. In the case of ceiling fans, the terms refers to designs that have a flush mount installation and no downrod,  making them ideal for rooms with low ceilings, small rooms, or for any location where ceiling height is of concern. Low profile ceiling fans are also called hugger or flushmount style ceiling fans.

Low Voltage Fixtures

Recessed track, task, decorative or landscape fixtures for low voltage lamps. A transformer is required for these fixtures and may by integrated, local or remote.

Low Voltage Housing

Recessed housing with an integral, or occasionally, remote transformer.

Low Voltage Lamps

Incandescent lamps that operate at 6, 12 or 24 volts. Low voltage lamps require a step-down transformer to reduce the voltage from the normal household 120 volts.

Low Voltage Lighting System

A type of lighting that operates on 12-volt current rather than the standard 120 volts. Power is supplied by a transformer, which is itself connected to 120-volt power. This type of system is seen often in landscape lighting and track lighting.

Low Voltage Trim

Low voltage trim can refer to either a reflector trim with an integral transformer, which installs in a standard housing, or the dedicated trim to a low voltage housing.

Low Voltage Track

Track powered at low voltage by a step-down transformer, which installs in a standard housing; or the dedicated trim to low voltage housing.


The amount of light that a bulb or an LED produces. This unit of output is technically known as “Luminous flux.” Knowing how many lumens a bulb produces has becomes increasingly important as consumers make the switch from incandescent bulbs to energy efficient CFLs and LEDs. These types of bulbs use far less energy to produce the same amount of lumens. To aid consumers in choosing between different kinds of bulbs, packaging is now required to list the lumens output. You’ll also find the lumens output for bulbs listed in the copy descriptions of our light bulbs. Read more about lumens in our online article Lumens – The Key to Buying New Replacement Bulbs.


Machine Blown Glass

Glass shaped by mechanically forcing air into molten glass so that it takes the shape of a mold.

Matte Finish

Lamp or fixture surface finish producing a diffuse, lightly textured dull reflection.

Mini Chandelier

Also known as a miniature chandelier, mini chandeliers are just that, petite chandeliers that are specifically designed with smaller spaces in mind.

Mini chandeliers are frequently used by designers to add extra sparkle to a bedroom, small entry hall, dressing area, and even the bath.

In size, mini chandeliers are usually in the 12-inches and less chandelier size range, though some slender designs can also be found in our small chandelier sort as well.

Mini Pendant

Like its larger cousin the pendant chandelier, a mini pendant light hangs from a cord or wire from a canopy that is installed on the ceiling.

Small in size, the mini pendant is great for decorative task lighting kitchen islands, counter tops, work spaces and more.

Mini pendants come in a wide range of styles, though contemporary mini pendants are particularly popular for kitchen area. They are often hung in multiples over counters and seating areas.

Mission Style

Along with the Arts And Crafts movement, Mission style became popular at the turn of the 20th century. The emphasis is on simplicity, straight lines, geometric shapes and handcrafted pieces. Ornamentation may be from wrought iron, brass and woods, especially oak. Browse our collection of Arts & Crafts Mission lighting to see the wide range of designs available.

Mogul Base

Base used on high-wattage incandescent and HID lamps.

Motion Detector

Control that uses passive infrared or ultrasonic detection to sense whether someone is present or not, and to turn a light on or off appropriately. Commonly used in outdoor flood or spot fixtures. “Automatic On” sensors turn lights on when presence; “Manual On” sensors require you to press a switch. Both types turn lights off automatically when they no longer sense a presence. Outdoor lighting with built-in motion sensors is available on a wide range of designs.

Motor Screw

In a ceiling fan, screws that hold the fan blades and flywheel.

MR Lamp

Multi-facet reflector lamp, of which the most popular is MR16. MR lamps surround a halogen capsule with a computer-designed glass, or metal reflector with many surfaces or facets. These compact lamps require a glass cover, either integral or as part of the fixture.


National Electrical Code

Sets out standards for wiring and electrical devices. The NEC requirements are widely followed by local jurisdictions.


National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Includes lamp, electrical device and larger fixture manufacturers. NEMA develops consensus ratings and designations for various products.

Neon Lamp

Low pressure arc discharge lamps that operate at high voltage. Used for decoration and signage purposes.


A system of dimming controls that are wired and programmed to respond together, usually to link controls in several rooms.

Nominal Watts

The power rating of lamps, as published by lamp manufacturers.


Opal Glass

Milky, translucent glass produced by adding ingredients to clear glass. Used for diffusing light.

Oriental Style

Classic lighting is the popular paper lantern or shade style. Chinese and Japanese motifs may also be used to decorate table and floor lamps.

Outdoor Lighting

Any hard wired, low-voltage or solar powered lighting system that is used in an exterior space. Outdoor lighting can enhance the beauty of your home, making it safer and more secure. Outdoor lighting typically is an investment that pays off in the value it adds to a home. Click the following link to view our collection of outdoor lighting.

Outlet Box

Also Junction Box. Enclosure that protects spliced wires and supports surface fixtures.

Over Voltage

Incandescent lamps experience shortened lamp life when operated above their rated voltage.


Parabolic Reflector Bulbs (PAR)

Bulbs used to control the level of light more precisely. They provide about four times the light of General Service (A) bulbs and are used in recessed and track lighting. Weatherproof casings make them suitable for outdoor spot and flood lighting fixtures. We carry a wide range of PAR light bulbs to meet your lighting needs.

PAR Lamps

Parabolic Aluminized Reflector Lamp. Constructed of hard glass with a separate back reflector and front legs that are fused together. PAR lamps may be line or low voltage and can be used unprotected outdoors.


Pavers are luminous elements mounted in the ground of a patio or pathway. They act like lighted paving stones, marking a path. Some pavers are designed to replace individual bricks, others are imbedded in concrete.

Pendant Lights

Pendants can provide both general and task lighting. With shades or globes to avoid glare, they can be suspended from the ceiling over dinette table, kitchen counters or work areas. When used over end or night tables they free up space normally occupied by table lamps.

The addition of a dimmer control allows you to alter the intensity of the light to suit your mood or time of day. View our collection of pendant lighting to learn more.

Pendant Mounted

Pendants mount on a chain, stem, cable or wire, and hang down into space. The word also refers to a style of hanging fixture with a single, central luminous element (like a cone, globe or dish), distinguished from a chandelier, which typically has several arms or luminous elements. This type of design is known as mini-pendant lighting when smaller, or just pendant lighting.


Light-sensitive device used to operate fixtures according to available daylight. They are used in solar lighting and to turn outdoor or security lights on and off at dusk and dawn. Photocells are frequently used in outdoor lighting, where the the style is is known as a dusk to dawn lighting feature.


Recessed downlight that includes a faceplate with a small aperture used for inconspicuous accent lights.


The space between the ceiling and the floor or roof above.

Portable Lamps

Portables, typically decorative table lamps or floor lamps, that include a cord and plug. They are distinguished from fixtures, which are permanently fastened and electrified. Portables include table lamps, floor lamps and torchieres. Small specialty lamps, such as clip-on lights, can lights, adjustable task lights, desk and piano lights also classify as portable lamps.

Post-Top Fixtures

Outdoor fixtures used to mark the entrance to a property, define a driveway or light a garden pathway.

Pot Rack Chandelier

A specialty kind of chandelier designed for use in a kitchen and featuring hooks or rack space to store pots, pans and lids. Depending on their size, pot rack chandelier designs can accommodate up to a dozen hanging pots or pans.

Power Feed

The connection point that brings electricity to track and other lighting systems. Power feed may be at the end, floating or at a wiring intersection.


Refractor of transparent glass or plastic, with three or more straight sides. Light entering one side of the prism bends and exits the other side.

Pull Chain

A type of control frequently seen on ceiling fans. A simple pull on the chain turns the fan on and off and controls the speed of the fan.There are many pull chain ceiling fans available on the market today.

Pull-Down Fixture

Recessed downlight with a retractable lamp-holder/housing (usually a round-back cylinder or bullet) that pulls down from the ceiling at angles up to 90 degrees from vertical.


Quad-Tube Lamp

Single-ended compact fluorescent lamp consisting of two twin tubes on a single base.

Quartz Lamp

Or quartz halogen. Term derives from the quartz glass that encloses the filament and halogen gas. Quartz glass can withstand the high pressure of the halogen lamp, but it transmits more UV radiation than ordinary hard glass. Touching the quartz glass with bare hands leaves an oily residue that greatly reduces lamp life.


R Lamp

Reflector Lamp. Soft-glass reflectorized lamp with a generally smooth light distribution.

Rated Lamp Life

The point in hours where 50% of a lamp type initially started will still be functioning.

Recessed Fixture

A fixture mounted in the ceiling. With downlights, only the aperture and trim are visible from below. With fluorescent troffers and luminous ceilings, only the light shield is visible. Recessed lighting fixtures provide direct downlighting and are highly effective used as wall washers, to accent painting, or to highlight architectural or home décor points of interest. Also see Recessed Lighting.

Recessed Lighting

Recessed Lighting is installed above the ceiling. Only the aperture or opening of the light shows. Recessed downlights are the most popular form of architectural lighting fixture because they blend into almost any décor and provide a range of lighting effects. Most recessed lights have three parts: the housing, a trim piece, and the lamp or bulb. Read more about recessed lighting ideas and information.


A piece of material with a reflective surface that directs light in a desired direction. Reflectors are frequently specular, but may also be glossy, diffuse or matte.

Reflector Lamps

A light source of incandescent, compact fluorescent or HID source with a built in reflecting surface, usually a silver or aluminum coating on the bulb.


A project where the existing lighting fixtures in a home or office setting are cleaned and new lamps installed.


An electronic control that is separate from the lighting fixture, or, in the case of dimmers, separate from the master or individual dimmer, permitting operation from multiple areas or locations. Full-function remotes set the dimming level, as well as switching on/off. Remotes are often seen with LED lighting, and can can control the color output of the LEDs in a lamp or fixture.


Upgrading a fixture, room or building by installing new lighting fixtures, parts or equipment. In recent years, LED retrofit kits for recessed lighting have proved to be very popular.

Reverse Switch

On a ceiling fan, a switch that reverses the blade direction and airflow.


Raises a shade 1/2 inch to 2 inches for decorative appearance. Used instead of a layer harp.


A cable comprised of flexible plastic sheathing inside of which are two or more insulated wires for carrying electricity.

Rotary Dimmers

A dimming control that provides full-range, manual control of a light source. Some are equipped with a push-button operation that allows you to turn the light on and off and return to the previous lighting level.


Process of wiring a home and installing rough-in sections of the fixtures and the back boxes of electrical devices; precedes the finish work.

Rough Service Lamps

Incandescent lamps designed with extra filament supports to withstand bumps, shocks and vibrations.


Corrosion of metal, particularly iron and steel, from exposure to moist air and other elements; also called oxidation. Rust is a reddish-brown finish that can be produced by a paint or chemical process.


Sand Casting

A process where molten metal is poured into a mold of compacted sand. The molds can only be used once. The process is costly, including finishing the fairly rough casting.

Satin Finish

Slightly textured or brushed surface having a fine grain that reflects light with some diffusion.


The arch or scallop-shaped pattern on a light fixture. A scalloped lamp shade has a undulating scallop bottom edge that lends a decorative look to the design. These types of shades are most often traditional in appearance, and be decorated with bead work or embroidery.


Specific setting for a group of dimmers channels or zone. A multi-scene control allows you to select the different setting by pushing a button.


Wall bracket fixture derived from the form of a candelabra, often with exposed or decorative light sources. We carry a wide variety of sconce wall lights for you to choose from.


An opaque or translucent covering on luminaries and portable lamps to shield the light source. Redirects the light and enhances decoration. Browse our complete lamp shade collection for the latest styles.

Shade Measurement

Measure in this order: Top across, bottom across, slant of the sides, height. Learn more with our online tips about measuring for a new or replacement lamp shade.


Accent lighting technique that creates a dramatic outline by back lighting. Also used in landscape lighting.

Slide Dimmers

Slide dimmers operate via a slide toggle, providing a full-range of manual dimming control. Some are equipped with a touch-button that allows you to return to the previous lighting level. Others have an indicator light that glows in the dark for easy location.

Sloped Ceilings

The flexibility of track lighting can be a major help when trying to light from a sloped ceiling. Most recessed fixtures cannot be aimed to light art on an adjacent wall, while track lighting fixtures allow you to do so easily.


In architecture, the underside of an overhead component, such as an arch, cornice, beam or balcony. Often used to describe an area of the ceiling that drops below the primary surface.

Soft or Lined Shade

Shade that is lined with fabric.

Soft-White Lamp

Incandescent lamp with a dense, milky-white silica coating on the inside of the bulb. Diffuses the light and completely conceals the light filament.

Solar Lighting

Solar-powered lighting relies on the power of sunlight. Sunlight is converted into electricity using photovoltaics and used to charge battery packs. These batteries provide the power to illuminate fixtures and outdoor designs at night. These designs are usually wireless, making them very easy to install or position. And because they use a renewable power supply, the sun, they are energy efficient and green. The technology is seen most often in solar-powered landscape lights, and in newer solar-powered fountains. Solar-powered lighting is available in a wide range of styles and finishes.

Solid Brass

Fixture or parts made entirely of brass, not plated or simulated. Solid brass parts are “solid brass”, not “solid parts.” Often they are hollow castings or tubing.

Solid State

Electronics that use semi-conductor chips and circuitry.


A measure of loudness. The sones measurement is often seen associated with bathroom exhaust fans. Ultra-quiet fans may offer a sones rating of 0.3, while more powerful units rate 3.5 or higher.

Southwest Style

This style evolved from furnishings used in the rural Southwestern United States, particularly in Santa Fe. Lighting fixtures feature simple forms and lines with terra cotta finishes and animal or regional motifs.

Specialty Lighting

A broad term referring to everything from line and low voltage strip lights to special display or controlled lighting as seen in retail and commercial applications.

Specular Finish

Highly polished and mirror-like. Semi-specular finish is generally bright, but without a well-defined mirror image.


The cross frame near the top of a shade.


The process of shaping a disk of metal by rotating it on a lathe and pushing it with a forming tool. Also, a part made this way.

Spot Lamp

Reflectorized lamp with a narrow light distribution.


Short for recessed square downlights, which are usually shallow fixtures with diffusers or lenses.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel resists corrosion and has a rich, deep luster. It is particularly used in bathroom and kitchen settings for a clean, contemporary look.


Inexpensive way to form sheet metal by hitting it with a die.

Step Lights

Step Lights are recessed into walls and stairs so they illuminate the treads of stairs or pathways. An eye shield is often used to block direct view of the light source. Step and deck lighting designs are frequently used as part of a low voltage landscape light system for outdoor patios and deck areas. Step lights not only enhance the style and look of a room or area, they also make areas safer and easier to navigate at night.


Crystal glass of the ultimate chemical purity, saturated with more than 30% lead oxide, cut and polished with ultimate precision by a machine. This is the finest crystal available and also the most expensive. Strass crystal is now know as Swarovski Elements crystal.

Surface Mounted

Surface-mounted fixtures are also know as ceiling mounted fixtures. They attach directly or close to the ceiling. The light distribution is often semi-direct or general diffuse.


Material or chain hanging in a decorative fashion between two points. Also refers to swag chandeliers, which hang from ceiling hooks and plug directly into wall outlets without the need for electrical hard wiring. Swag lighting has been very popular in various decades in the past, and has seen a great renaissance in recent years. It is especially useful as a lighting solution for rooms that lack ceiling junction boxes, for small apartments or small rooms, or for use in bedrooms in place of bedside lamps. Browse our selection of swag style chandeliers to see all the types and styles available.

Swing Arm

A table or wall mounted lamp that uses a movable horizontal arm, allowing it to be positioned any number of ways. Swing arm wall lamps are often used in bedrooms. Swing arm adjustable desk lamps are popular on office desks.

Switch Leg

Wiring that connects the switch or dimmer output to the fixture or load being controlled.



Tubular Lamp; may be incandescent, halogen or fluorescent.

Task Lighting

Lighting directed to a specific area or surface that provides illumination for visual tasks, such as reading, sewing or cooking. It can be provided by recessed and track lighting, portable lighting such as desk and table lamp, or by pendant lamps hanging over a table surface.

Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and should be bright enough to prevent eyestrain when reading and doing close-up work.

Task lighting from portable lamps is frequently used for reading, and increasingly takes advantage of new advances in LED technology.

3-Way Bulbs

A 3-way bulb (also known as a three-way bulb, a tri-light, or 3-way lamp) is a special kind of light bulb that provides three different levels of light.

3-way light bulbs are used with 3-way sockets found in table lamps, floor lamps, and other lighting types. A switch operates the bulb and socket, producing a high, medium, and low output of light.

3-way bulbs use two filaments to produce the different light levels. A common configuration is a filament that outputs 50 watts of light, and a second filament that outputs 100 watts of light. The high light output is achieved by illuminating both filaments together, in this case producing 150 watts of light.

Typically, 3-way light bulbs are incandescent, but there are some CFL models available.

Three-Way Dimmer

Dimmer that works with a three-way switch for control from two locations; turns on/off and dims at the dimmer, but only turns on/off at the switch.

Three-Way Lamp

A three-way lamp is a special type of bulb that has two filaments to provide three levels of light when sequentially switched. See above under 3-way bulbs. The term can also be used to describe table lamps or floor lamps that have a three-way socket and switch, allowing them to use a 3-way bulb.

Three-Way Switch

A three-way switch (sometimes written as a “3-way switch”) operates a fixture from two locations. Also called a “three-pole switch” because it is connected to three wires; “hot” in, “switched” out and a “traveler” to the other three-way switch.

Tiffany Lighting

Based on the style popularized by American Louis Comfort Tiffany, Tiffany style lighting relies on cut stained glass and ornately detailed bases, often in bronze. The glass pieces are hand-assembled using a copper foil soldering technique.

Tiffany was heavily influenced by Japanese art forms in which nature was front and center, and was also known for more abstracted designs. We offer a wide range of Tiffany style lighting for you to choose from.  Read our History of Tiffany Lighting to learn more about this style of lighting.


The upward inclination of a light source from a level horizontal position.


Device that turns lights on and off at pre-programmed times.

Tinted Glass

Tinted glass is clear glass with a pigment or color added. This produces color throughout the piece, which will not chip or peel. Also clear or opal glass with a thin film of colored glass or plastic coating.

Title 24

Title 24 is California legislation from 1978 that set energy efficiency standards for a wide range of home lighting sources. The standards are contained within Title 24, part 6 of the California Building Standards Code of Regulations, and have been updated throughout the years on an approximately three-year cycle, with 2016 Standards set to go into effect on January 1, 2017.

The overall goal of the Title 24 energy standards is the reduction of energy use, and many states and cities throughout the country have adopted ideas set in the code.

Title 24 code demands high-efficacy lighting for household rooms such as bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms, kitchens, hallways, and outdoor porches and patios. High-efficacy lighting is defined as: 1) 15 watts or less: Minimum of 40 lumens/watt; 2) 15 to 40 watts: Minimum of 50 lumens/watt; 3) More than 40 watts: Minimum of 60 lumens/watt.

Manufacturers have produced numerous fluorescent and LED designs to meet these standards.

We will be happy to help you find designs that meet Title 24 requirements, or browse our collection of Title 24 compliant recessed lighting fixtures.


Lever used for control as in the common toggle switch or toggle dimmer.


A type of floor lamp design with a shade or glass element that directs all, or most, of the bulb light upward towards the ceiling.

This type of indirect lighting is ideal for general room illumination and is very popular for living rooms, living room seating areas, and media rooms. However, because the light is directed towards the ceiling, these types of designs are not well suited for use as a reading or task light.

To compensate for this, many torchiere floor lamps feature adjustable side lights on the lamp column, effectively giving you both general and task light sources in one lamp.

Torchieres remain one of the most popular types of floor lamps on the market today, and there are a wide variety of torchiere floor lamps to choose from.

Touch Lamps

Touch lamps are a special type of lighting design that can be turned on and off merely by touching the lamp base. This unique feature has made them very popular for use on bedside tables, or in sitting areas.

In the past, almost all touch style lamps were incandescent based, but new LED technology is proving to be a good match for this type of functionality.

Track Connector

Part that joins sections of electrified track.

Track Lighting

Any lighting system that utilizes individual lamps or lamp housing which operate off a track or strip mounted to the wall or ceiling.

Track lighting can provide general, task or accent lighting all at once in a very flexible system. You can move, swivel, rotate and aim the individual fixtures in any direction along the track, giving you the flexibility to change your lighting scheme as the need arises. You can also hang chandelier and pendant lighting fixtures from some types of track.

Browse all the types available in our track lighting collection.


A device used to raise (step up) or lower (step down) the electric voltage. For example, many halogen ceiling fixtures require a transformer, most commonly hidden in the wall during installation, to function properly. Step down transformers reduce household voltage (120 volts) to low voltage used in accent and landscape lighting. Larger transformers reduce high voltage used for efficient power distribution to safe and flexible household voltage. Input voltage is on the primary tap; output voltage on the secondary tap.


Sometimes the edge or visible part of a recessed downlight; as in “white trim”. Sometimes the finishing section of the recessed fiture; as in “housing and trim.”


Recessed fluorescent fixture for use in a suspended ceiling; derived from the words “trough” and “coffer.”

Tungsten-Halogen Lamp

A gas filled tungsten incandescent lamp containing a certain amount of halogens that intensifies the light source. More commonly referred to as “Halogen” lighting.


U Lamp

Linear, double-ended fluorescent lamp, usually T8 or T12, bent into a “U” shape.

Under Cabinet Fixtures

Fixtures which are placed under a cabinet or room recess to provide task and accent lighting. Under kitchen cabinets they can light a countertop with task lighting. In a display cabinet they can be used to illuminate a prized collection. They include slim, energy-efficient fluorescents, miniature track lighting and strips of low-voltage mini-lights. We carry a wide variety of under cabinet lights for you to choose from.


Underwriters Laboratory. Commonly referred to as “UL”. An independent organization whose responsibilities include rigorous testing of electrical products. When products pass these tests, they can be labeled and advertised as “UL Listed”. UL tests for product safety only. Even if a product is not UL tested, products at Lamps Plus all meet or exceed UL standards.

Ultraviolet Light (UV)

Light that is shorter in wavelength and higher in frequency than visible violet light.


Common name for a plain track that accepts a wide range of line voltage reflectorized lamps.


Wall bracket light fixture with an uplight distribution and a distinctive urn shape.

Utility Lighting

Commonly refers to ceiling and wall fixture lighting that is plain and durable. Utility fixtures usually feature plastic lenses and diffusers instead of glass. The housing may also be of molded plastic.


Valance Lighting

A fixture installed behind a horizontal shielding over a window or along a wall. Light is distributed up and down, usually from a fluorescent source.

Vanity Lights

Fixture used at a mirror or over a vanity bathroom mirror. Ideally a long, well diffused light source.

Vari-Flex Flywheel

On a ceiling fan, rubber wheel that holds blade holders.


Thin sheet of material, usually of wood or plastic that is attached, laminated, to a stronger, less costly material.

Victorian Style

A style derived from the late 19th century British period. Typical of Victorian lighting details are candelabras with decorative ornaments, colored glass lanterns, fixtures with brass and cut glass, and dangling crystal fringes.


Unit of electrical force or pressure. Household voltage in the United States, nominally 120 volts, varies between 110 and 125 volts.

Voltage Drop

Difference in voltage along a circuit. Voltage drop becomes a problem with low voltage wiring and small cable, reducing the intensity of the lights at the far end of the cable. A common problem in landscape lighting systems with long runs. New LED lights are effective at reducing the problem.


Wall Bracket

Fixture designed to be mounted on a vertical surface, including sconces, urns and valances.

Wall-Mount Fixtures

A broad term which refers to fixtures that provide general, task and accent lighting. Many wall-mount fixtures are designed to match and coordinate with dining room chandeliers or other lighting fixtures. Wall brackets are often used for task lighting at the bathroom mirror. They are available in a choice of incandescent, halogen and energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs.

Wall Grazing

A lighting technique in which light is aimed down a wall for a grazing effect. For dramatic shadows, especially on textured surfaces such as brick, draperies or stone, mount the lights 6 to 12 inches from the wall, with the fixtures the same distance apart and aimed downward.

Wall Lighting

Lighting directed on a wall or vertical surface to emphasize that plane, enhance the surface texture, or bounce light back into the room. Increasing wall brightness generally makes a room seem more spacious. This type of lighting can be called wall lights or sconces when placed indoors. In bedrooms and office, swing-arm style wall lamps are popular. There are also a wide range of outdoor wall lights available.

Wall Washing

A lighting technique in which a wall is evenly washed with light. For most surfaces, mount the track 2 to 3 feet from the wall on ceiling up to 9 feet high. Mount between 3 and 4 feet on ceilings between 9 and 11 feet high. Space the fixtures the same distance apart for even light distribution.


A unit of electrical power.


The amount of electricity consumed by a bulb.


Distressed finish that simulates aging.

Wet Location

A lighting fixture that is Wet Location rated means that it can be installed outdoors with full exposure to the elements, moisture, and weather. All the outdoor wall lights and outdoor post lights that we have for sale are Wet Location rated, as are the low voltage landscape lights that we carry. Wet Location is different from Dry Location, which means that a light can only be used indoors in a fully protected area. It is also different from Damp Location rated, which refers to fixtures that must be installed in locations protected from full weather and moisture exposure. See our glossary entry on Damp Location for more information.

Wire Nut

Also called a solderless connector. Small plastic device that can be fastened over the bare, joined ends of several wires to protect and insulate the connection.

Wrought Iron

Soft iron that is hammered and bent into decorative shapes.



A heavy, colorless, and relatively inert gaseous element that occurs in air as about one part in 20 million by volume and is used especially in thyratrons and specialized flashtubes. Xenon light bulbs are still used by some specialty types of desk lamps and fixtures.


Yard Lighting

Outdoor lighting fixtures, including hanging pendant lamps, wall lights, security lights and low voltage landscape lighting used to beautify and enhance an outdoor space.


Zone Lighting

In dimming, lights that are operated together. Also called Channel Lighting.