Lighting lingo made simple

Lighting Types

Affecting both the aesthetics and functionality of a space, most people can agree that lighting is a very important part of the homebuilding and home design process. Today, there are many factors that go into creating the perfect lighting plan that fits your lifestyle.

If you’re not in the lighting industry, the terms used to identify types of fixtures, light sources and light measurements can often feel overwhelming. Here’s a quick guide to all the terms you need to know when creating your home’s lighting plan:

Types of Fixtures:

  • Luminaire: Light fixture, including the lamp (bulb).

Lighting Types

Light Sources:

  • Light Emitting Diodes (LED): LEDs are semiconductor devices that produce visible light when an electrical current passes through them. Generally speaking, LEDs are more efficient, durable, versatile and longer lasting than traditional light sources.
  • Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL): CFLs are fluorescent light bulbs that have been compressed into the size of a standard-issue incandescent bulb. Modern CFLs typically last at least six times as long and use around a quarter of the power of an equivalent incandescent lamp.


Light Measurements:


  • Lumen: The most common measure of light output. Lumens measure the amount of light produced by a bulb. The more lumens in a light bulb, the brighter the light.
  • Watt: A measure of electric power (not how bright a light is). The rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit.
    • Efficacy: A measure of how much light a source produces for every watt of power it consumes. Expressed in lumens per watt.
    • Color Rendering Index (CRI): A unit of measure that defines how well colors are rendered. The CRI means better color rendering, or less color shift. CRIs in the range of 75-100 are considered excellent. An incandescent lamp operates at 100 CRI.
    • Correlated Color Temperature (CCT): Color appearance is communicated using correlated color temperature (CCT) on the Kelvin (K) scale. For most interior lighting applications, warm-white (2700K to 3000K) is preferred.

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