Lamps & Lighting Fixtures

A lamp is an apparatus that produces light. The word "lamp" refers specifically to the light bulb or tube itself. As such, to "relamp" means to replace the light source of a light fixture. Historically, lamps consisted of a simple open flame. Today, lamps are usually electric and sit on the floor, or on a table or desk.

Traditional Lamps

1. Davy Lamps

These are candles enclosed in a safety lamp used to light coal mines.

2. Flame Lamps

Flame lamps are oil lamps, kerosene lamps, gas lamps.

3. Limelight

This is a traditional form of stage lighting once used in the same way modern follow spots are today.


Specialty Lamps

Specialty lamps include:

1. Arc Lamps

Arc lamps produce light by sparking a high current between two electrodes when two carbon rods are touched and then slowly pulled apart.

2. Halogen Lamps

Halogen lamps allow for greater brightness, a whiter color temperature, and are very efficient; these lamps increased the lifespan of ordinary incandescent lamps.

3. Neon Lamps

4. Sconces

Sconces are a type of light fixture that uses only a wall for support and directs its light upwards.

5. Torch Lamps

These are also known as torchieres, are lamps featuring a tall stand made of wood or metal.

Light Fixtures Overview

Light fixtures are electrical devices that are used to provide illumination or to create artificial light. A complete lighting fixture unit is made up of:

  • The actual light source (the lamp)
  • A reflector for directing the light
  • An aperture that may or may not have a lens
  • An outer shell for aligning the lamp and protecting it
  • An electrical ballast (used to start a gas discharge lamp and to limit the flow of the electric current) if needed
  • A connection to a power source.

Different types of light fixtures are categorized according to how they are installed, how the light functions, and the type of lamp they employ.

Lighting Fixture Functions

Some of the many functions of light fixtures include providing the following:

  • Accent light
  • Background light
  • Downlight
  • Emergency light
  • Flood light
  • Night light
  • Outdoor light
  • Safelight
  • Searchlight
  • Security lighting
  • Spotlight
  • Street light
  • Strobe light.

Freestanding or portable light fixtures include table lamps and other office task lights. Recessed light fixtures hide their protective lamp housing behind a ceiling or wall. Surface-mounted light fixtures expose their finished housing, with chandeliers being quite possibly the most magnificent of examples. Pendant lights hang from ceilings with a chain or pipe. Indirect lighting fixtures reflect their light off a ceiling to provide general illumination.