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Types of lighting

To get out and about in any artificially-lit environment (such as shops, restaurants, other people’s homes), light-sensitive people need to know what type of lighting is where.

This information, however, is very difficult to obtain. There are a huge range of different forms and fittings of light now available, with many types coming in similar shapes and sizes. Few people have the specialist knowledge, or the vocabulary, to be able to answer lighting queries.

This confusion exacerbates the social exclusion that light-sensitive people experience, simple things like going to the hairdresser or visiting a friend have to be weighed up against the risk of exposure to harmful lighting.

LightAware has prepared a very simple ‘identification guide’ to some of the most common types of lighting, to help the non-specialist to answer lighting queries.

(The manufacture of some of these lights has been banned but remnant stock is still commonly in use).

Incandescent bulb

The original form of electric lighting, incandescent light bulbs look familiar and so easy to identify. However, many new forms of lighting copy the look and form of the original bulb. It has a glass bulb enclosure housing a tungsten filament (metal wire).

incandescent lightbulb

Halogen bulb

Halogen light bulbs come in a range of shapes and forms. Some look like traditional incandescent light bulbs with a few subtle differences (a small mini-bulb in the centre encasing the filament). They also come as little spot light reflector bulbs (often set into ceilings), linear bulbs in a form of a narrow cylindrical tube (normally used in uplighters) and small bulbs with two-prongs protruding from the bottom (task lamps and reading lights).

halogen bulb

Linear fluorescent

Also known as ‘strip lighting’ or fluorescent tube lighting. The Linear Fluorescent light is a long glass tube with metal caps on each end with pins protruding from them to provide electrical contact. They come in a large variety of shapes, sizes, wattages and colour temperatures. They are usually used for office, retail lighting and many other applications where a lot of artificial lighting is needed to light large spaces.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

The same design as linear fluorescent tubes, except that the tube is curled or folded into a shape that occupies roughly the same space as an incandescent light bulb. Many compact fluorescent light bulbs are designed to be able to screw into the same lighting fixtures as used by incandescent bulbs. (The screw in types are self-ballasted i.e. the electronics required to drive the fluorescent lamp are concealed within the base of the bulb. There are other plug-in varieties where the ballast circuitry is separate however, thus requiring different sockets or fixtures to regular incandescent bulbs. As with the linear fluorescent tubes, there are many different types and form factors of compact fluorescent bulbs covering different wattages, lighting colour temperatures, sizes and socket types.

Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL)

LED lighting

LED (light-emitting diode) lighting now comes in a very wide range of shapes, sizes, fittings and colours, including strip lighting and opaque bulbs that look similar to traditional incandescents.

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