- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 08 Feb 2018
Types of lamp
The term ‘lamp’ refers specifically to a light source, typically comprising a light-emitting element contained within an outer bulb or tube, which generally emits radiation within the visible spectrum.
The term is also used more widely to describe products such as table lamps and floor lamps, although these should more correctly be referred to as light fittings. Light fittings (or sometimes light fixtures) can comprise lamps, lampholders, control gear, housings and so on.
Lamps may include a reflector and a lens to control the beam angle (or beam spread), they may be dimmable, they can have a range of brightness, beam angle and colour, and can be used to provide direct or indirect light.
Lamp intensity (or power density) is the overall power output of a lamp across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, generally expressed in Watts (W). This is not a measure of the brightness of the lamp, as some of a lamp’s output may be in non-visible parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Lamp beam angle or beam spread is the angle of the cone of light emitted by reflectorised lamps, measured from the centre of the beam to the line where the intensity of the beam is 50% of the maximum.
 Types of lamp
There are a wide variety of different types of lamp available:
Extra-low voltage lamps are small halogen lamps producing two or three times the light output of conventional filament lamps. They are typically powered from a separate 12 V source and have increased efficiency and lamp life. As the heating effect is lower, they can be preferable for display lighting
Discharge lamps, sometimes referred to as arc discharge lamps, discharge an electric current through a gas or gas / metal vapour mix. Discharge lamps may be fluorescent lamps or High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps.
Fluorescent lamps discharge an electric current through an inert gas and low pressure mercury vapour to produce ultraviolet (UV) energy. This generates ultraviolet radiation, which is converted into visible light by a phosphor coating on the inner face of the glass. The type of coating determines the spectrum of light emitted.
 High intensity discharge lamps (HID)
High intensity discharge lamps are formed by compact arc tubes which enclose gas and metal salts. When the arc has formed, the metal salts evaporate, forming plasma which increases the intensity and reduces the power consumption of the arc. HID’s are typically mercury, metal halide (MH), ceramic metal halide (CMH) or high-pressure sodium (HPS).
Xenon arc lamps contain xenon gas and emit light that is very similar to sunlight.
 Light-emitting diodes LED
LEDs contain solid semi-conductor materials that convert electrical impulses into light. They may include fluorescent materials that alter the colour of the light. They have a similar efficiency to CFL’s but are longer lasting.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Architectural LED market.
- Ballast or control gear.
- Colour appearance.
- Dichroic reflector.
- Discharge lamp.
- Extra-low voltage lamps.
- General lighting v task lighting.
- Health and wellbeing impacts of natural and artificial lighting.
- Lamp efficacy.
- Light fitting.
- Lighting and energy efficiency.
- Lighting and health infographic.
- Lighting energy numeric indicator LENI.
- Lighting of construction sites.
- Luminaire efficacy.
- Luminous flux.
- Power factor.
- Space classifications for lighting controls.
- Specialist process lighting.
- The essential guide to retail lighting.
- The impact of lighting in retail design.
- Types of lighting.
Featured articles and news
A document can be called a bond or a guarantee. Does the name matter and what is the difference between them?
New briefing note is launched focusing on increasing knowledge of housing that promotes health and wellbeing.
Arbitration is a private, contractual form of dispute resolution used in the construction industry.
The European Parliament has approved a revised Energy Performance of Buildings directive.
One in six MPs supports the ring-fencing of retentions as proposed in the 'Aldous Bill'.
A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the process or outcome of a construction project.
BRE launches online self-assessment tool for ethical labour sourcing.
Tower refurbishment failed to meet safety standards on several counts, according to leaked report.
It may seem obvious but what does the term 'structure' refer to within a built environment context?
Carillion's liabilities could be much higher than previously thought, according to Receiver.
Photographing Historic Buildings, by the former head of photography at English Heritage.