American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
A consensus-based organization which coordinates voluntary standards for the physical, electrical and performance characteristics of lamps, ballasts, luminaires and other lighting and electrical equipment.
("Amps") A measure of electrical current. In incandescent lamps, the current is related to voltage and power as follows: Current (Amps) = Power (Watts) / Voltage (Volts).
A three letter system that has been devised to describe lamps of different manufacture but the same application. The letters have no relationship to lamp description, but the same letters always designate the same type of lamp. Some of the application parameters they define are wattage, base type envelope size, and light center length.
The light caused by an electrical discharge between two electrodes in a gas such as xenon, argon, or air. The first usable arc as a practical light source was developed in 1809 by Sir Humphrey Davy.
An auxiliary piece of equipment required to start and to properly control the flow of current to gas discharge light sources such as fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps.
Ballast Factor (BF)
This is the percentage of a lamp's rated lumen output that can be expected when operated on a specific, commercially available ballast. For example, a ballast with a ballast factor of 9.93 will result in the lamp's emitting 93% of its rated lumen output. A ballast with a lower BF results in less light output and also generally consumes less power.
The angular dimension of the cone of light from reflectorized lamps (such as R and PAR types) encompassing the central part of the beam out to the angle where the intensity is 50% of maximum. The beam angle sometimes called "beam spread" is often part of the ordering code for reflectorized lamps. Example: The 50PAR30/HIR/NFL25 is a 50 watt PAR30 narrow flood lamp with a beam angle of 25 degrees. See also Field Angle.
The complete shape of the beam, as defined in the general sense. It includes any realistic or abstract patterns introduced into the beam as well as any apparatus that alters the contour of the beam.
A luminaire with a beam whose wavelengths are too short to be visible, i.e., 320 to 380 nm. These ultraviolet wavelengths excite fluorescent materials, paints, etc., in theatrical applications.
The measure of luminous intensity of a source in a given direction. The term has been retained from the early days of lighting when a standard candle of a fixed size and composition was defined as producing one candela in every direction. A plot of intensity versus direction is called a candela distribution curve and is often provided for reflectorized lamps and for luminaires with a lamp operating in them.
An obsolete term for luminous intensity; current practice is to refer to this simply as candelas. See Candela.
Center Beam Candlepower (CBCP)
Refers to the luminous intensity at the center of the beam of a blown or pressed reflector lamp (such as a PAR lamp). Measured in candelas. See also Candela.
Ceramic Metal Halide (CHM?)
A Type of metal halide lamp that uses a ceramic material for the arc tube instead of glass quartz, resulting in better color rendering (>80 CRI) and improved lumen maintenance.
Coefficient of Utilization
In general lighting calculations, the fraction of initial lamp lumens that reach the work plane. CU is a function of luminaire efficiency, room surface reflectances and room shape.
A term used to describe the ignition of a cold arc lamp, i.e., a lamp that has not been electrified for a relatively long period of time.
Color Rendering Index (CRI)
An international system used to rate a lamp's ability to render object colors. The higher the CRI (based upon a 0-100 scale) the richer colors generally appear. CRI ratings of various lamps may be compared, but a numerical comparison is only valid if the lamps are close in color temperature. CRI differences among lamps are not usually significant (visual to the eye) unless the difference is more than 3-5 points.
Color Temperature (Correlated Color Temperature - CCT)
A number indicating the degree of "yellowness" or "blueness" of a white light source. Measured in Kelvins, CCT represents the temperature an incandescent object (like a filament) must reach to mimic the color of the lamp. Yellowish-white ("warm") sources, like incandescent lamps, have lower color temperatures in the 2700K - 3000K range; white and bluish-white ("cool") sources, such as cool white (4100K) and natural daylight (6000K), have higher color temperatures. The higher the color temperature the whiter, or bluer, the light will be.
Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)
The general term applied to fluorescent lamps that are single-ended and that have smaller diameter tubes that are bent to form a compact shape. Some CFLs have integral ballasts and medium or candelabra screw bases for easy replacement of incandescent lamps.
A continuum of electric and magnetic radiation that can be characterized by wavelength or frequency. Visible light encompasses a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum in the region from about 380 nanometers (violet) to 770 nanometers (red) by wavelength.
A short name for a fluorescent high frequency electronic ballast. Electronic ballasts use solid state electronic components and typically operate fluorescent lamps at frequencies in the range of 25-35 kHz. The benefits are: increased lamp efficacy, reduced ballast losses and lighter, smaller ballasts compared to electromagnetic ballasts. Electronic ballasts may also be used with HID lamps.
Elliptical Reflector (ER) Lamp
An incandescent lamp with a built-in elliptically-shaped reflecting surface. This shape produces a focal point directly in front of the lamp which reduces light absorption in some types of luminaires. It is particularly effective at increasing the efficiency of baffled downlights.
The angular dimension of the cone of light from reflectorized lamps (such as R and PAR types) encompassing the central part of the beam out to the angle where the intensity is 10% of maximum.
The wire inside an incandescent lamp envelope that glows and emits light when heated, i.e., when electricity passes through it.
A high efficiency lamp utilizing an electric discharge through low pressure mercury vapor to produce ultra-violet (UV) energy. The UV excites phosphor materials applied as a thin layer on the inside of a glass tube which makes up the structure of the lamp. The phosphors transform the UV to visible light.
A unit of illuminance or light falling onto a surface. It stands for the light level on a surface one foot from a standard candle. One footcandle is equal to one lumen per square foot. See also Lux.
Full Spectrum Lighting
A marketing term, typically associated with light sources that are similar to some forms of natural daylight (5000K and above, 90+ CRI), but sometimes more broadly used for lamps that have a smooth and continuous color spectrum.
A halogen lamp is an incandescent lamp with a filament that is surrounded by halogen gases, such as iodine or bromine. Halogen gases allow the filaments to be operated at higher temperatures and higher efficacies. The halogen participates in a tungsten transport cycle, returning tungsten to the filament and prolonging lamp life.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamp
A general term for mercury, metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps. HID lamps contain compact arc tubes which enclose various gases and metal salts operating at relatively high pressures and temperatures.
High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) Lamp
HPS lamps are high intensity discharge light sources that produce light by an electrical discharge through sodium vapor operating at relatively high pressures and temperatures.
The ""density"" of light (lumens/area) incident on a surface; i.e. the light level on a surface. Illuminance is measured in footcandles for lux.
A light source that generates light utilizing a thin filament wire (usually of tungsten) heated to white heat by an electric current passing through it.
Gases can be excited directly by radio-frequency or microwaves from a coil that creates induced electromagnetic fields. This is called induction lighting and it differs from a conventional discharge, which uses electrodes to carry current into the arc. Induction lamps have no electrodes inside the chamber and generally, therefore, have longer life than standard lamps.
Electromagnetic energy radiated in the wavelength range of about 770 to 1,000,000 nanometers. Energy in this range cannot be seen by the human eye, but can be sensed as heat by the skin.
A type of ballast designed to start fluorescent lamps as soon as the power is applied. Most T8 fluorescent lamps are being operated on electronic instant-start ballasts. Slimline fluorescent lamps operate only on instant start circuits.
A measure of electrical power equal to 1000 watts.
Kilowatt Hour (kWh)
The standard measure of electrical energy and the typical billing unit used by electrical utilities for electricity use. A 100-watt lamp operated for 10 hours consumes 1000 watt-hours (100 x 10) or one kilowatt-hour. If the utility charges $.10/kWh, then the electricity cost for the 10 hours of operation would be 10 cents (1 x $.10).
The term used to refer to the complete light source package, including the inner parts as well as the outer bulb or tube. "Lamp", of course, is also commonly used to refer to a type of small light fixture such as a table lamp.
The electrical device that supports a lamp in a luminaire, and generally contains the contacts that make the electrical connection to the contacts of the lamp base.
See Rated Lamp Life.
Radiant energy that can be sensed or seen by the human eye. Visible light is measured in lumens.
Light Center Length (L.C.L.)
The distance between the center of the filament, or arc tube, and a reference plane - usually the bottom of the lamp base.
A measure of luminous flux or quantity of light emitted by a source. For example, a dinner candle provides about 12 lumens. A 60-watt Soft White incandescent lamp provides 840 lumens.
A measure of how well a lamp maintains its light output over time. It may be expressed numerically or as a graph of light output vs. time.
A complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp (or lamps), ballast (or ballasts) as required together with the parts designed to distribute the light, position and protect the lamps and connect them to the power supply. A luminaire is often referred to as a fixture.
A photometric measure of "brightness" of a surface as seen by the observer, measured in candelas per square meter.
The ratio of total lumens emitted by a luminaire to those emitted by the lamp or lamps used in that luminaire.
The light output (lumens) of a light source divided by the total power input (watts) to that source. It is expressed in lumens per watt.
A unit of illuminance or light falling onto a surface. One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. Ten lux approximately equals one footcandle. See also Footcandle.
Maximum Overall Length (M.O.L.)
The end-to-end measurement of a lamp, expressed in inches or millimeters.
The average light output of a lamp over its rated life. Based on the shape of the lumen depreciation curve, for fluorescent and metal halide lamps, mean lumens are measured at 40% of rated lamp life. For mercury, high pressure sodium and incandescent lamps, mean lumen ratings refer to lumens at 50% of rated lamp life. See Lumen Maintenance.
A high-intensity discharge light source operating at a relatively high pressure (about 1 atmosphere) and temperature in which most of the light is produced by radiation from excited mercury vapor. Phosphor coatings on some lamp types add additional light and improve color rendering.
Metal Halide Lamp
A high-intensity discharge light source in which the light is produced by the radiation from mercury, plus halides of metals such as sodium, scandium, indiu, and dysprosium. Some lamp types may also utilize phosphor coatings.
A unit of wavelength equal to one billionth of a meter.
PAR is an acronym for parabolic aluminized reflector. A PAR lamp, which may utilize either an incandescent filament, a halogen filament tube or a HID arc tube, is a precision pressed-glass reflector lamp. PAR lamps rely on both the internal reflector and prisms in the lens for the control of the light beam.
An inorganic chemical compound processed into a powder and deposited on the inner glass surface of fluorescent tubes and some mercury and metal-halide lamp bulbs. Phosphors are designed to absorb short wavelength ultraviolet radiation and to transform and emit it as visible light.
Power Factor (PF)
A measure of the phase difference between voltage and current drawn by an electrical device, such as a ballast or motor. Power factors can range from 0 to 1.0 with 1.0 being ideal. Power factor is sometimes expressed as a percent. Incandescent lamps have power factors close to 1.0 because they are simple "resistive" loads. The power factor of a fluorescent and HID lamp system is determined by the ballast used. "High" power factor usually means a rating of 0.9 or greater. Power companies may penalize users for using low power factor devices.
A type of fluorescent lamp-ballast circuit used with the first commercial fluorescent lamp products. A push button or automatic switch is used to preheat the lamp cathodes to a glow state. Starting the lamp can then be accomplished using simple "choke" or reactor ballasts.
Rapid Start Circuit
A fluorescent lamp-ballast circuit that utilizes continuous cathode heating, while the system is energized, to start and maintain lamp light output at efficient levels. Rapid start ballasts may be either electromagnetic, electronic or of hybrid design. Full-range fluorescent lamp dimming is only possible with rapid start systems.
Rated Lamp Life
For most lamp types, rated lamp life is the length of time of a statistically large sample between first use and the point when 50% of the lamps have died. It is possible to define "useful life" of a lamp based on practical considerations involving lumen depreciation and color shift.
Reflector Lamp (R)
A light source with a built-in reflecting surface. Sometimes, the term is used to refer specifically to blown bulbs like the "R" and "ER" lamps; at other times, it includes all reflectorized lamps like PAR and MR.
Scotopic/Photopic (S/P) Ratio
This measurement accounts for the fact that of the two light sensors in the retina, rods are more sensitive to blue light (Scotopic vision) and cones to yellow light (Photopic vision). The Scotopic/Photopic (S/P) Ratio is an attempt to capture the relative strengths of these two responses. S/P is calculated as the ratio of scotopic lumens to photopic lumens for the light source on an ANSI reference ballast. Cooler sources (higher color temperatures lamps) tend to have higher values of the S/P Ratio compared to warm sources.
Sealed Beam Lamp
A lamp with an integral light source, reflector, and lens, all of which are either sealed within, or are a part of the envelope.
Single Ended Lamp
A lamp that has only one base and all of its contacts on the base.
Spectral Power Distribution (SPD)
A graph of the radiant power emitted by a light source as a function of wavelength. SPD's provide a visual profile of "finger print" of the color characteristics of the source throughout the visible part of the spectrum.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
A private organization which tests and lists electrical (and other) equipment for electrical and fire safety according to recognized UL and other standards. A UL listing in not an indication of overall performance. Lamps are not UL listed except for compact fluorescent lamp assemblies - those with screw bases and built-in ballasts.
A measurement of the electromotive force in an electrical circuit or device expressed in volts. Voltage can be thought of as being analogous to the pressure in a waterline.
A unit of electrical power. Lamps are rated in watts to indicate the rate at which they consume energy. See Kilowatt Hour.