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Basics Of Lighting | Types Of Lamps | New Lighting Technologies | Homeslibro


Lighting is measured by the amount of luminous flux on a surface, called illuminance. It is expressed either in foot-candles (illuminance in a square foot) or in lux (illuminance in a square meter). An artificial light source is referred to as a lamp. Although lamps are commonly identified by their wattage, this does not describe the output of light. A watt is the measurement of energy consumption from a particular light source. So an incandescent lamp and a fluorescent lamp can have the same light output of foot-candles or lux while ranging dramatically in wattage. As an example, a 60-watt incandescent lamp has the same light output as a 15-watt fluorescent lamp.


Light coming from a single point source can, like direct sunlight, create dark areas of shadow around the pool of light it provides. A point source calls attention to the surface it is illuminating and highlights its inherent characteristics. Diffuse light, like that on a cloudy day, distributes light evenly and is not strong enough to create shadows. While this even distribution of light may be good in a working environment because it is easy on the eyes, it can seem a bit dull and lifeless over time.


An unshaded lamp or poorly positioned fixture with an exposed lamp can cause extreme brightness from a light source called glare. While not measurable, glare is easily recognizable. It can impair vision and induce discomfort as the eye usually squints to reduce the impact of its harshness. Veiling reflection is another type of glare that is caused by the brightness of

a light source reflecting off a shiny surface such as glass. A familiar example might be the reflection of a bright window on a computer screen. The well-thought-out distribution and location of light fixtures can reduce glare significantly.



Many types of lamps are available, each with specific characteristics for colour rendition, size, energy consumption, and lamp life. Juggling all the variables can be complex. To specify lamps correctly, designers should know their efficacy rating (1 = low/poor, 5 = high/excellent) as well as their correlated colour temperature and colour rendering index.


Correlated Color Temperature

Correlated Color Temperature


Color Rendering Index (CRI)

Color Rendering Index



Color Rendering Index





Although fibre-optic and LED lighting technologies have been around for a while, they are now becoming more readily available to designers. Both lighting types are more energy-efficient than fluorescent lighting, but also much more cost-prohibitive. As the market continues to focus on energy efficiency, however, designers will see these technologies advance further and become more affordable.


Fibre-Optic Lighting

This technology relies on strands of acrylic cables to transmit light from the light source, called the illuminator, to the ends of the cables. The illuminator is simply a box with either a tungsten halogen lamp or a metal halide lamp of varying wattages. Tungsten halogen lamps are more common, while metal halide lamps are typically used for large installations. The ends of the acrylic cable are gathered in a bundle and placed in an aperture directly in front of the lamp. The illuminators should be conveniently located for easy access to relamp the fixtures. It is also important to note that the illuminators need ventilation to release the heat that is generated by the lamp.


Depending on the lighting design, there can be less than a handful of acrylic cables or hundreds of cables. The length of the cables can vary per installation, but as a general rule, they should not exceed 50 feet (15 meters) or light transmission will be compromised. The advantage of this system is that multiple lights can be located in difficult-to-access places, controlled by a single lamp inside the illuminator.


LED Lighting

Although light-emitting diodes (LEDs) use a fraction of the electricity and last up to ten times as long as fluorescent lamps, they are too costly for use in general lighting. LEDs are available in high intensities of red, green, and blue light, and the combination of all three coloured lights


Comparative Correlated Color Temperature

Comparative Correlated Color Temperature

yields white light. Varying combinations of the three colours can produce a full spectrum of colour options. LEDs have the additional advantage of producing no heat. Currently, LEDs are used in interior design to create desired effects such as accenting a reveal or washing a wall with coloured light. As the technology advances, it will become more affordable and eventually be applied to general-purpose lighting.




Ballast: a small device that controls the flow of current by providing the required starting voltage and then reducing the current during operation.


Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT): spectral characteristic of a light source, measured in Kelvins (K). The lower the temperature, the warmer the (yellow/red) tones; the higher the temperature, the cooler the (blue) tones. sunlight at dawn has a colour temperature of 1900K while a uniform overcast sky is 6527K.


Colour Rendering Index (CRI): scale from 1 to 100 that describes the effect of a light source on an object or surface. The higher the index, the more natural and vibrant the object appears.


Dimming Ballast: Device used with fluorescent lamps to vary the output of light by the use of a dimmer control.


Efficacy, or Luminous Efficacy: Efficiency in which electrical power is converted to light. Efficacy measures the number of lumens emitted per watts consumed (lm/W).


Low-voltage Lamp: Incandescent lamp that operates with low voltage, ranging from 6 to 12 volts.


Luminance: Amount of light reflected or transmitted by an object.


Transformer: The device designed to raise or lower electric voltage.



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