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Last edited 20 Jun 2019
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:
In September 2018, the use of halogen lamps was banned across Europe. While remaining stocks are allowed to be sold, and low voltage incandescents used in oven lights will be exempt, the ban is intended to bring about a switch to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) which consume five times less energy than halogen lamps.
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. HIDs are typically mercury, metal halide (MH), ceramic metal halide (CMH) or high-pressure sodium (HPS).
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 CFLs but are longer lasting.
 Find out more
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- Extra-low voltage lamps.
- General lighting v task lighting.
- Health and wellbeing impacts of natural and artificial lighting.
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- Lighting and energy efficiency.
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