Light Fittings – The definitive guide

There is a vast range of light fittings for the home – but, although they may differ greatly in their appearance, they can be grouped roughly into eight categories according to their functions.

Pendant lights
The pendant light is probably the most common fitting. At its most basic it consists of a lamp holder, with a bulb and usually with some kind of shade, and is suspended from a ceiling rose by a length of flexible cord. Many decorative pendant lights are designed to take more than one bulb and are much heavier than the simpler ones. Heavy pendant lights should never be attached to a standard plastic ceiling rose.

However, they can be connected to a detachable ceiling rose.

Pendant Lights
Pendant Lights

Close-mounted ceiling lights
A close-mounted fitting is screwed directly to the ceiling, without a ceiling rose, most often by means of a backplate that houses the lamp holder or holders. The fitting is usually enclosed by some kind of rigid light-diffuser, which is also attached to the backplate.

Close mounted lights
Close Mounted Lights

Recessed ceiling lights
The lamp housing itself is recessed into the ceiling void, and the diffuser either lies flush with the ceiling or projects only slightly below it. These discreet light fittings, which are ideal for modern interiors with low ceilings, are often referred to as downlighters.

Fluorescent tubes
Fluorescent tubes are more economical than GLS or halogen bulbs. Compact fluorescent lamps are designed as low energy replacements for GLS bulbs. Though they are relatively expensive to buy, you are likely to recoup the additional cost within 6 to 12 months.

Batten holders
These basic fittings are fixed directly to the wall or ceiling. They are generally used in areas such as lofts or cellars where appearance is not important.

Batten Holder Light

Track lights
Several individual light fittings can be attached to a metal track screwed to the ceiling or to a wall. Because a contact runs the length of the track, lights can be fitted anywhere along it.

These slim lights are often mounted above mirrors and inside cupboards and display
cabinets. They can be controlled by separate microswitches so the light comes on each time the cupboard door is opened. Striplights usually take 30W or 60W tubular tungsten-filament lamps with a metal cap at each end.

Some undercupboard striplights are designed to be linked with short lengths of cable so that they can all be powered from a single 13amp plug.

Fluorescent light fittings
A fluorescent light features a glass tube containing mercury vapour. The voltage makes electrons flow between the electrodes at the ends of the tube and bombard an internal coating – which fluoresces, producing bright light. Different types of coating make the light appear ‘warmer’ or ‘cooler’. For domestic purposes, choose either ‘warm white’ or
daylight’ tubes.

Fluorescent lighting is unattractive in most domestic interiors, but it is very functional for workshops and garages, where good even illumination is an advantage. However, you should be aware that fluorescent lighting can create the illusion that moving parts of machinery (saw blades and lathe chucks) are stationary when they are still turning.

Light bulbs and tubes
There are numerous light bulbs and designed for use in the various fittings described left.

Wall lights
Light fittings designed for screwing to a wall can be supplied either from the lighting circuit in the ceiling void or from a fused spur off a ring circuit. Among the most popular wall lights are uplighters, adjustable spotlights and various kinds of close-mounted fittings.

Wall Lights
Wall Lights

General lighting service lamps (GLS)
This is the trade name for what we call a light bulb. It is technically known as a
tungsten-filament lamp, as the thin filament inside the glass envelope glows brightly when heated by electricity.

GLS bulbs come with either an Edison screw or a bayonet fitting for securing the bulb to a lampholder.

The glass envelope can be clear, for fitting inside or behind a glass or plastic cover; or ‘pearl’, which provides a diffused light for pendant fittings and table lamps. There are also coloured GLS lamps. Used mainly for outdoor decoration. As well as the familiar domed and compact mushroom-shaped bulbs, there are decorative GLS lamps, including bulbs shaped to resemble candle flames.

Some tungsten-filament lamps are silvered to reflect the light forwards or backwards.

Halogen lamps
The filament inside a bulb containing halogen gas glows with an intense white light. As well as mains-voltage lamps, there are low-voltage fittings that have to be wired to a transformer.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
Formerly used only for indicator lights, LEDs are now often used in groups to create extremely durable light sources.

If you are interested in adding new and interesting lighting to your home and you live in the Chelmsford, Essex area why not give us a call and let us discuss your next project. Contact First Call Electrician on 01245 330428 today.

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