Lighting can make a big difference in the way a room feels: warmer or cooler, bigger or smaller, romantic or harsh, forgiving or jarring. While table, task, and floor lamps are great solutions, replacing and updating fixtures is easier than you might think! Choosing lamps and fixtures that create the mood you want and the functional light you need can be a challenge. It’s a challenge that LaDiff is ready to tackle!
Use this guide to help you with your lighting decision, then visit our selection online, or, for a wider choice, visit us in person!
More than you will ever want to know about lamps, light fixtures, and light sources.
Types of Lamps:
A ceiling lamp that is very close (or flush) to the ceiling; used often in lower ceilings (i.e. 8’) so that people can walk beneath easily
A method of hanging some pendant lights where the fixture comes with a long enough cord and plug to insert into a wall socket and run up the wall, over the ceiling, and down
A lamp or fixture that focuses the light source directly to help you achieve a certain task (i.e. a desk lamp)
Junction Box – The metal octagonal ‘box’ hidden in your ceiling or wall behind a protective plate that has all the wiring you need to install your wall sconce or ceiling fixture; usually controlled by a wall switch
Dimmer Switch – Can be integral to the lamp or installed separately (i.e. on a wall switch) to control the intensity of a light source; some bulb types require the use of a ‘low voltage’ dimmer
Lumen – A unit of light flow, or luminous flux. The lumen rating of a lamp is a measure of the total light output of the lamp; particularly helpful when comparing LED options
Watt – The unit for measuring electrical power, defining the rate of energy consumption
Volt – The standard unit of measurement for electrical potential, it defines the ‘force’ or ‘pressure’ of electricity
Types of Lamps:
The kind of light source invented by Thomas Edison; an electric light with a wire filament heated to a high temperature until it glows with visible light (incandescence);
Pros: provide a warm, soft light; least expensive light source
Cons: lifespan is 1000 hours or less; consume a lot of electricity
From the Greek for ‘salt-forming’, halogen light sources burn a tungsten filament inside a bulb filled with a small amount of a halogen such as iodine or bromine; require less energy for illumination and many varieties only need 12volts of electricity (vs the US standard of 110-120); the low-voltage varieties will have transformers to convert the voltage coming from your outlet
Pros: a very white light / closest to natural sunlight; use less energy and last longer than incandescent; can be created in a myriad of sizes which allows for a variety of lighting designs
Cons: more expensive than incandescent; can be extremely hot; to maintain the clear flow of the gas, do not touch a halogen bulb directly; the oil from your skin causes that part of the lamp to grow hotter & the bulb can burn out or explode
Standard versions are long tubes containing an inert argon gas with a bit of mercury; as the current flows through the tube, the gas begins to glow; usually used for large, commercial areas like schools, hospitals, etc.
Pros: long lifespan (about 20000 hours), cost less than halogen, produce little heat
Cons: often need a ‘warm up’ period to arrive at their full illumination, mercury content means they cannot/should not be broken up and added to a landfill; as they lose power they become dim; light value is very ‘blue’
Compact Fluorescent (CFL)
Similar to tube fluorescents except designed in a more ‘compact’ form that often can be used in standard incandescent sockets; many are available in ‘warm’ versions that replicate incandescent light values
Pros: last 10x longer than a similarly sized incandescent; consume 70% less electricity
Cons: more expensive than incandescent bulbs; contain small traces of mercury so they are difficult to dispose of responsibly; when they lose power they begin to ‘dim’ rather than just burn out
Short for ‘light emitting diode’, an LED ‘bulb’ is a small light emitting chip in a plastic case, sometimes with a glass lens; light is produced by the electrons moved by the current in a semiconductor material; originally used in Exit signs and car head & tail lights, LED’s are now available in virtually every bulb type & size including small halogen shapes and ‘antique’ edison style bulbs.
Pros: incredibly long life span – can last 30000-100000 hours (or up to 10 years); depending on the number of bulbs grouped together, can provide a very bright light, available in cool or warm or even brightly colored hues
Cons: much more expensive than any of the other options (but weigh this against the long life span and they are less per lifetime need)