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Various examples of light fixtures throughout history

A light fixture (US English), light fitting (UK English), or luminaire is an electrical lighting device containing one or more light sources, such as lamps, and all the accessory components required for its operation to provide illumination to the environment.[1] All light fixtures have a fixture body and one or more lamps. The lamps may be in sockets for easy replacement—or, in the case of some LED fixtures, hard-wired in place.

Fixtures may also have a switch to control the light, either attached to the lamp body or attached to the power cable. Permanent light fixtures, such as dining room chandeliers, may have no switch on the fixture itself, but rely on a wall switch.

Fixtures require an electrical connection to a power source, typically AC mains power, but some run on battery power for camping or emergency lights. Permanent lighting fixtures are directly wired. Movable lamps have a plug and cord that plugs into a wall socket.

Light fixtures may also have other features, such as reflectors for directing the light, an aperture (with or without a lens), an outer shell or housing for lamp alignment and protection, an electrical ballast or power supply, and a shade to diffuse the light or direct it towards a workspace (e.g., a desk lamp). A wide variety of special light fixtures are created for use in the automotive lighting industry, aerospace, marine and medicine sectors.[2][3]

Portable light fixtures are often called lamps, as in table lamp or desk lamp. In technical terminology, the lamp is the light source, which, in casual terminology, is called the light bulb. Both the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recommend the term luminaire for technical use.[4]


Fixture manufacturing began soon after production of the incandescent light bulb.[citation needed] When practical uses of fluorescent lighting were realized after 1924, the three leading companies to produce various fixtures were Lightolier, Artcraft Fluorescent Lighting Corporation, and Globe Lighting in the United States.[5]

Fixture types

Light fixtures are classified by how the fixture is installed, the light function or lamp type.

Free-standing or portable


Chandeliers in the Bibliothèque Mazarine (Paris)
A decorative outdoor lamp at Leeds Town Hall
A garden solar lamp is an example of landscape lighting

Special-purpose lights

Lamp types

A decorative Wall Light
Old table lamps at Archaeological Museum, Sri Lanka

Main article: List of light sources

Xenon arc lamp, Yablochkov candle
Fluorescent lamp, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), Induction lamp, blacklight.
Betty lamp, butter lamp, carbide lamp, gas lighting, kerosene lamp, oil lamp, rush light, torch, candle, Limelight, gas mantle
Safety lamps: Davy lamp and Geordie lamp
Mercury-vapor lamp, Metal-halide (HMI, HQI, CDM), Sodium vapor or "high-pressure sodium"
A-lamp, Parabolic aluminized reflector lamp (PAR), reflector lamp (R), bulged reflector lamp (BR) (refer to lamp shapes)

Light-fixture controls

There are various types of devices used to manage the amount of light used:[6]

See also


  1. ^ Siniscalco, Andrea (2021). New Frontiers for Design of Interior Lighting Products. Springer International. p. 1. ISBN 9783030757823.
  2. ^ Editorial staff (2020-06-22). "An Illuminating Guide to the Top 7 Types of Industrial Lighting - California Business Journal". Retrieved 2022-08-29.
  3. ^ "Lighting Fixtures Selection Guide: Types, Features, Applications | Engineering360". Retrieved 2022-08-29.
  4. ^ The lighting handbook : reference and application. David L. DiLaura, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (10th ed.). New York, NY. 2011. ISBN 978-0-87995-241-9. OCLC 739932332.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ "Early industry leaders", of fluorescent fixture manufacturing, Paul Levy (1998)
  6. ^ "Lighting Controls". Retrieved 2022-08-29.