Lighting Industry Terminology

How United States looks at night with lightsSometimes lighting industry jargon can make it difficult for business owners, project managers, and other non-technical stakeholders to understand the process of determining the best lights for your needs and ultimately implementing those recommendations. Did you know, for example, that the power input to any luminaire system is measured in watts, but you measure the output in lumens? Or that the actual lighting level we receive is measured in foot – candles.

Take a minute to learn the most important lighting industry terms and acronyms, so that you can better informed conversation with the technical people on your team and make better business decisions when it comes to lighting.

Artificial Lighting Characteristics

As we know, the quality of lighting has a huge impact on how we feel. There is however a difference between the quantities of light delivered in foot-candles or lumens and their quality. CRI or the Color Rendering Index evaluates how color appears under a light source and CCT is the Coordinated Color Temperature, and it describes the color of the light source. Because light can also be described in temperature, lower temperatures appear somehow reddish and at the higher temperatures colors appear white, and then blue. However, lights at higher temperatures are called cooler, as they become blue and white. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins (K).

Types of Lights

Fluorescent lights (or CFLs- Compact Fluorescent Lights) are efficient lights with a longer life than, let’s say, incandescent lamps. Flourescents are very common in commercial applications. T12 lamps were once standard, and they are being replaced by smaller and more efficient lamps such as T8. The numbers on linear fluorescent lamps refer to eights of an inch and T stands for tubular (T8 lamp is 1 inch in diameter, and T12 is 1.5 inches. T5 lamp is 5/8 of an inch in diameter). And if you run into HO in your search, it stands for high-output.

HID lamps or High Intensity Discharge lamps have an intense point source of light used in high-bay, outdoor and some retail applications. Today we use electronic HID, energy efficient types of lamps that use halide lamps electronic ballasts.

Induction lamps have up to 8 times longer lifespan than a fluorescent lamp and 4 times longer than a HID lamp. This is because induction lamps have no electrodes to wear out. Instead, their electromagnetic field induces a plasma gas discharge into a tube. Their CRI is similar to fluorescent lamps.

If you are currently using an inefficient HID lighting system, check out this page to learn more about how Lumax can upgrade your HID lights to more efficient types of lights.

Basic Lighting Terminology

When it comes to lighting jargon, think lumens not watts. Light output is measured in lumens or the total quantity of emitted light. Efficacy of a lamp is also referred to as lumens per watt. Today’s technologies deliver three to four times more lumens per watt than incandescent lamps. A foot-candle is the amount of light that falls on a surface. It is equal to one lumen per square foot and measured with a light meter.

There is certain difference in efficacy between HID lamps, fluorescent lamps and incandescent lamps. And CRI or color rendering is the ability of light source to produce color in objects. It is expressed on a scale from 0-100, but the “coolest” colors as blue and white are visible when lamp approaches high temperatures measured in Kelvins.

Incandescent, fluorescent, light emitting diodes, LEDs and other luminaire systems all emit “white” light. But the color of the light can appear different, even between two lamps that share the same source.