Lighting Glossary

Accent lighting – Concentrated lighting used an area or subject to create a visual point of interest.

Ambient lighting – Also known as “general lighting,” ambient light is the overall lighting in a room. 

Baffle – A device that directs light downward and upward to reduce glare – generally used on shades with large top diameters.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) – Small fluorescent bulbs that can often be used in a standard medium-base socket. CFLs use 20-40% less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Color-adjusted versions are available to produce light that has a warm, flattering appearance.

Dimmer switch – A control that gradually increases or decreases light intensity. 

Drum-style shade – Shaped like a cylinder, the diameter of a drum shade is the same at top and bottom. 

Empire-style shade – A lampshade that is narrow on top and slightly wider at the bottom, creating a triangular shape. 

Faux – Fake. Imitation. Refers to finishes and materials, such as faux marble. 

Finial – Decorative ornament that fastens the shade to the fixture. 

Fitter – One of the three prongs that meet in a center ring where the shade fits to the fixture. Also known as a “spider.” 

Floor lamp – Standing lamp sometimes referred to as “stick,” used for general lighting. 

Fluorescent – Energy efficient bulbs, using 20-40% less electricity than standard incandescent bulbs. 

Foot-candles – The amount of light reaching the subject. 

Halogen – A bulb type often used for task or accent lighting, Halogen bulbs have a longer life and provide more light per watt when compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. 

Hard-back shade – A shade made with a paper or vinyl lining. 

Hardwired lighting – Fixtures wired directly to a home’s electrical system rather than plugged into the wall socket.  

Harp – The hardware used to secure a lampshade to the base. Harps vary in size, depending on the shade depth, usually 8″, 10″, or 12″. 

Incandescent  bulbs – Traditional bulbs, generally 15-150 watts. These “screw-in” type bulbs provide a warm, yellowish light.

LED – Light Emitting Diode – the most efficient light source for home fixtures, this technology offers virtual lifetime service, can be made to produce an infinite range of colors, and is now available in the latest Thomas Lighting designs. 

Lumens – The amount of light a bulb produces. 

Mica – A naturally occurring mineral, used to create a translucent shade material that emits a warm glow. Mica is used in its natural color or is often dyed amber. 

Mission – An early 20th century American offshoot of the Arts and Crafts Movement, characterized by a simple rectilinear style, clean lines, exposed construction techniques, simple materials, and little or no decoration. 

Pleat – A straight, flat vertical fold of cloth, common on lampshades. Soft pleats are gentle and “wavy.” Hard or “knife” pleats have sharp, defined edges. 

Portable lighting – Light fixtures that can be plugged into a wall socket and are easily moved.

Soft shade – A shade made with a fabric inner lining and outer material.

Tiffany – Loosely refers to glass-shaded lamps made from a mosaic of glass panels in the Art Nouveau style as produced by the Tiffany Company in the early 20th century. 

Wattage – The amount of electricity consumed by a bulb.

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