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Luminaire Types

Luminaires come in many shapes and sizes. They are usually classified according to source, mounting, construction, application and/or by photometric characteristics.

A Surface Mounted Luminaire

Surface Mounted

These luminaires can provide general or ambient lighting with the added feature that some of the light can be emitted upward to produce some ceiling brightness, making the space look more open and larger. Lamps are often concealed behind glass or plastic diffusers or other types of lenses which help to reduce glare and distribute the light into the space below.

Recessed Downlighting

Recessed Downlights

Recessed downlights are almost entirely hidden in the ceiling. The electrical components are contained in "housings" which conceal mechanical parts above the ceiling or behind the wall. A discrete aperture attaches to the housing, from which the light is directed into the room below.  Recessed downlights often provide general or ambient lighting, but are also available as adjustable luminaires which may be used to deliver intense beams for accent lighting.

Recessed luminaires can be used to add subtle accent lighting while adding warm and dimension to living spaces.

Track 

Track lighting refers to a system that includes luminaires (track heads) and a track or rail that is designed to provide mounting and deliver power. Track systems can be used in homes or in a range of commercial applications. These adjustable luminaires can be moved anywhere along the track system. This provides the flexibility required for lighting dynamic displays in galleries, museums and retail stores.

Wall Wash Luminaire

Wallwashers

Wallwash luminaires are used to produce a distribution of light that changes gradually from high levels at the top of the wall to lower levels at the bottom of the wall. Wall washers can be recessed, track mounted or surface mounted and are a common luminaire choice for perimeter lighting. These are very common in retail and other light commercial applications, as well as some residential applications.

Luminaire manufacturers generally provide spacing criteria required for the even distribution of light along the length of a wall or large vertical surface. 

A pendant luminaire

Above Decorative pendants can provide ambient and task lighting, while also contributing to the color and décor in any room. 

Decorative (Accent) Luminaires

These luminaires are either themselves ornamental or are designed to produce patterns of light that are ornamental. They can be ceiling recessed, surface mounted or wall mounted, with lamps that are adjustable or fixed.

Indirect

Common in office environments, indirect luminaires can use diffuse or point sources to provide virtually shadow-free general or ambient lighting. Fluorescent is the most common light source for these types of luminaires.

Reflectors are used to help them produce a wide distribution of light, typical in office environments. Pendants or cables usually suspend them from the ceiling, but some types are post-mounted from the floor. Direct-Indirect luminaires are similar to the suspended indirect but provide some downward directed light.

Indirect Recessed Downlighting

Cove

These luminaires are designed to be placed in an architectural cove or to have a shape such that when mounted on a wall they look like a cove, producing a similar lighting effect. The simplest form of this luminaire is a fluorescent strip, but more elaborate forms provide reflectors to control near-wall and ceiling brightness.

LEDs lamps are another common choice for cove lighting because of their long life. Changing lamps in a cove application can be a difficult and expensive maintenance procedure.

Stage Lighting

Stage

Stage luminaires are common in theaters and television studios for lighting stage sets and people, and are designed to provide tight optical control and maximum mounting flexibility. Stage lighting may look similar to commercial track lighting used in high-end retail and museum applications, but are not always illuminated to a "track" or electrical raceway. Because of their large size and weight, they are often individually electrified and secured to pipe sections with a strong clamp.

Spotlight
A Few Lighting Metrics

EFFICACY
A measure of how efficiently the lamp converts electrical energy into light. It is expressed in LUMENS PER WATT (LPW.)
INTENSITY
A shortening of the term luminous intensity. This refers to the concentration of light (measured in luminous flux per unit solid angle) emitted in a specific direction.
PHOTOMETRY
The measurement of quantities associated with light. Photometry can be either visual, in which the eye is used to make the comparison, or physical, in which measurements are made by means of physical receptors like light meters.
SPACING RATIO OR SPACING CRITERION (SC)
A classification parameter for indoor luminaires relating to the distribution of the direct luminance component produced on a work plane. The SC of a luminaire is an estimated maximum ratio of spacing to mounting height above the work plane for acceptable uniformity.