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Lighting Fixture Glossary


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Since lighting is so important to not only the function but the overall atmosphere of a room, it is important to choose suitable light fixtures for each lighting situation.  Here is a list of popular lighting methods and devices, and their definitions.
multi-colored lighting effects
Uplights, also called uplighters, direct light upward.  Because the ceiling acts as a large reflector, uplights create an ambient light that is soft and diffused.  Uplights result in good background light, with more refinement and fewer shadows than ambient light that comes from a central source.
Downlights, also called downlighters, direct light downward from high in the room.  Downlights are very efficient and provide concentrated light for working in or for displaying an object in.  They may be recessed or surface mounted, and also come in fixed or directional varieties.
Spotlights are reflector lights that project light beams less than 30 degrees wide.  Used in different ways, spotlights can be used in the home to produce a variety of effects, from accent lighting to ambient lighting.
Track lighting is a form of spotlighting, in which a track allows a number of different lights to be connected along its length and manipulated for the right effect.  The track carries the electrical current, and the lights are plugged in using a special connector.
Pendant lights are any lights that hang from a ceiling, whether they hang over a kitchen island or a dining room table.  Pendant lights can cast direct light or diffuse light, and can be decorative or utilitarian.  Many pendant lights, such as chandeliers, have several branches.
Ceiling lights, often surface-mounted fixtures located in the center of a room or hallway, cast a bright, overhead light that illuminates an entire room or area.  Decorative ceiling fans, which often include several lights, are popular home decor accents.  Simple ceiling light fixtures are best suited for utility areas in which atmosphere is not an issue.
Wall lights, or sconces, are mounted on the wall and create soft ambient light and subtle background lighting.  Wall lights can be directional or they can emit light all around.
Table lamps provide local light that is warm, cozy, and intimate, and also provide focal points throughout a room.  Table lamps comprise a base or stand that supports the bulb holder and bulb, and have a cord that delivers power to the source.  The bulb is shaded, and the shade itself is what controls the distribution of the light.
A floor lamp comprises a stand that supports the bulb holder and bulb, which is shaded to distribute light.  Like table lamps, floor lamps cast a warm, ambient, cozy glow, and are also good for delivering local light to a couch or chair.  The shape and thickness of the shade controls the distribution of light.
Task lights, also called work or reading lamps, focus light directly where it is needed.  The light is directional and glare-free.  Most task lights have jointed, sprung arms that are both stable and flexible.

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Lighting Fixture Glossary - Definitions