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Know all about different types of light fixtures and light shades

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Are you confused about different types of lamp? We are here to help. Please note that this is a generic topic which outlines all the basic lamp types and do not necessary represent all the lamp types that we make.

Surface mounted lamps

As the name suggests, it is the one of Basic category of the lamps. However, some lamp types do overlap with other basic category even if they are surface mounted.

Portable lamps

Another basic category, as the name suggests, the lamps that can be moved around,. Interestingly, all plug in lamps (as per UL) also falls in the category of portable lamps.

Hard wired Vs Plug-in lights

Above category of lamps are classified based on their connection to the power outlet. In hardwired light fixture, the electrical wire from the lamp is directly connected to the outlet wire in the ceiling junction box. Typically, the lamps will hang below the junction box. However, in Plug-in, lamps can be hung at any location on the ceiling and cord from the lamp is routed and plugged into existing power outlet on the wall.

Ceiling Mounted Lamps

  • Pendant lamps: Pendant lamps, also known as hanging or suspended lamps are the light fixtures that hang from the ceiling by a cord, chain, or metal rod. They generally feature a single light source which is often enclosed within a decorative shade or globe. Pendant lights come in a variety of styles, sizes, and materials, and can be used for both functional and decorative lighting purposes. these lights are popular for kitchen lighting, specially for kitchen island lighting or as dining room light.

  • Semi-flush lights: Semi-flush lights are the light fixtures that are mounted to the ceiling but are not fully flush. Usually, they have the mounting plate between the ceiling and the lamp. Most of the lamps shades have physical limitation as to why they need the mounting plate. Most of these lamps do not have wide enough top to cover the junction box hence, the only way to install these nearest to the ceiling in aesthetically pleasing way is by using a mounting plate. These lights generally go well as bedroom lighting, or storage / basement lighting or any low ceiling lighting.

  • Flush lights: Flush light fixture, also known as flush mount or surface mounted lights, are the light fixtures that are mounted directly against the ceiling surface. They are designed to be installed flush with the ceiling, which means that they do not hang down at all. One thing to consider while looking for flush lights is that, they will have broad top, because of the need to cover the ceiling junction hole beneath them as well as to make room fittings that hang them to ceiling. Also since it has to make room for the fittings the the light assembly sits slightly lower then ceiling (~3/4"). As the name suggest these low ceiling light have low profile and work will to lit the attic or work as mezzanine floor lights. We have also frequently seen these flush light being used by our customers as bathroom lighting or doorway lights or garage lights.

  • Focus lights: Focus lights are a type of directional lighting that are designed to direct a beam of light onto a specific area or object. They are often used in settings where highlighting or emphasizing a particular element is desired, such as in art galleries, museums, retail displays, and theatrical performances.

  • Linear lights: Lighting fixture that features a long, narrow shape that can be used to create a continuous line of light. They are used for both decorative and functional purposes and are popular in a variety of settings, including offices, retail spaces, homes, and outdoor environments.

  • Ceiling drum lights: A low profile LED lights (3/4"-1.5") available in a variety of wattage. Usually used for ambiance lighting or over all primary illumination in addition to decorative lighting/pendants and others.

  • Recessed lighting: Almost similar in function to drum lights with only difference is that the body of the light (the drum part) goes inside the ceiling and the light sits flush with the ceiling.

  • Track Lights: Lighting fixture that features a long, narrow track that can be mounted to a ceiling or wall. The track contains multiple light fixtures that can be positioned along the track and adjusted to direct light to specific areas or objects. Track lights are often used in settings where flexibility and adjustability are desired, such as art galleries, retail stores, and museums. They are also popular in homes and offices for their ability to provide directional lighting that can be easily adjusted as needed.

  • Chandelier: Chandelier is group of multiple lights that hang together. The configuration can vary from multiple arms from single mounting plate or single/multiple arms with branches. Generally, each of these arm/branch ends with a light source. These light are mostly decorative in nature and usually help fill a long/tall volume for ambiance like in the stairwell, high ceiling and more. Chandelier vs Cluster: In general, the units lights or chandelier are smaller and numbers can go very high, also the form factor of all these designs appearance and volume wise remains the same. However, a cluster is made out of various sizes of lamps which can feature one very large lamp and multiple various sizes of other lamps that can also vary in design.

Wall mounted lamps

Wall mounted lamps are also called SCONCE. Lets find out what are the different types of sconces or wall mounted lamps.

  • Flush mount sconce: These are wall lamps where the base is flush with the wall. One thing to note in these sconce is that in most cases the mounting process requires nuts to be fitted on the outer side of lamps so these dome nuts are visible in the open type lamps (like our scondents). Also, not all designs of these type of wall mounts can be converted into plug-ins in aesthetically pleasing way.

  • Semi-flush mount sconce: Same as its pendant counterpart these lamps have a mounting plate between them and wall surface. Most of these lamps are easily converted to plug-ins and typically no hardware is visible inside the lamp for these types.

  • Wall lamps with arm: Lamps with fixed arm have an extended arm from the mounting plate through which the the shades are attached, typically these shades can point down or up (down type or up type) through rigid attachment or swing down through cord. One with cords can allow a bit of adjustment in height of shade after installation. You can also look at them as pendants attached to the arm on the wall instead of ceiling.

  • Swivel type sconce: Swivel type sconce is similar to the fixed arm. However, the major difference is that it can have one or more swivel joints that allows the arms to move freely and position the lamps in any direction. Generally, with ceramic lamps, due to weight, these type of lamp design are very limited.

  • Lantern lamps: This type of fixtures where the shade mimics the lantern design and the light source is protected with glass using a metal cage. However, the design have evolved and the glass part is mostly eliminated as the modern LED virtually need no protection, our designs also mimics these metal counterpart in CAGE SERIES

  • Eclipse lights: These lamps have canceled lighting and all the light is directed towards the wall. With only the the light visible around the covering plate, these lamps mimic total solar eclipse, hence, the name eclipse lighting, You can find designs from our store here.

  • Vanity lamps: Vanity lights are wall mounted lights commonly used in bathrooms or dressing areas to provide illumination while people are grooming or applying makeup. They are typically installed above or on either side of a mirror. Most of these lights have 2/3 light mounted on a single stem and can be down or front facing.

Do visit other sections to know more about lamp and lighting related to décor, installation, ergonomics and more.


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