AskDefine | Define lighting

Dictionary Definition



1 having abundant light or illumination; "they played as long as it was light"; "as long as the lighting was good" [syn: light] [ant: dark]
2 apparatus for supplying artificial light effects for the stage or a film
3 the craft of providing artificial light; "an interior decorator must understand lighting"
4 the act of setting on fire or catching fire [syn: ignition, firing, kindling, inflammation]

User Contributed Dictionary



See light



  1. the equipment used to provide illumination; the illumination so provided
  2. the act of activating such equipment, or of igniting a flame etc


the equipment used to provide illumination; the illumination so provided
  • Finnish: valaistus
  • Hungarian: világítás, megvilágítás, kivilágítás
the act of activating such equipment, or of igniting a flame etc
  • Hungarian: meggyújtás

Extensive Definition

distinguish lightning
Lighting includes both artificial light sources such as lamps and natural illumination of interiors from daylight. Lighting represents a major component of energy consumption, accounting for a significant part of all energy consumed worldwide. Artificial lighting is most commonly provided today by electric lights, but gas lighting, candles or oil lamps were used in the past, and still are used in certain situations. Proper lighting can enhance task performance or aesthetics, while there can be energy wastage and adverse health effects of lighting. Indoor lighting is a form of fixture or furnishing, and a key part of interior design. Lighting can also be an intrinsic component of landscaping.


Lighting fixtures come in a wide variety of styles for various functions. Some are very plain and functional, while some are pieces of art in themselves. Nearly any material can be used, so long as it can tolerate the heat and is in keeping with safety codes.
Proper selection of fixtures is complicated by the requirement to minimize the veiling reflections off printed material. Since the exact orientation of printed material may not be closed controlled, a visual comfort probability can be calculated for a given set of lighting fixtures.


Lighting is classified by intended use as general, localized, or task lighting, depending largely on the distribution of the light produced by the fixture.
  • Task lighting is mainly functional and is usually the most concentrated, for purposes such as reading or inspection of materials. For example, reading poor-quality reproductions may require task lighting levels up to 1500 lux (150 footcandles), and some inspection tasks or surgical procedures require even higher levels.
  • Accent lighting is mainly decorative, intended to highlight pictures, plants, or other elements of interior design or landscaping.
  • General lighting fills in between the two and is intended for general illumination of an area. Indoors, this would be a basic lamp on a table or floor, or a fixture on the ceiling. Outdoors, general lighting for a parking lot may be as low as 10-20 lux (1-2 footcandles) since pedestrians and motorists already used to the dark will need little light for crossing the area.


  • Downlighting is most common, with fixtures on or recessed in the ceiling casting light downward. This tends to be the most used method, used in both offices and homes. Although it is easy to design it has dramatic problems with glare and excess energy consumption due to large number of fittings.
  • Uplighting is less common, often used to bounce indirect light off the ceiling and back down. It is commonly used in lighting applications that require minimal glare and uniform general illuminance levels. Uplighting (indirect) uses a diffuse surface to reflect light in a space and can minimize disabling glare on computer displays and other dark glossy surfaces. It gives a more uniform presentation of the light output in operation.
  • Front lighting is also quite common, but tends to make the subject look flat as its casts almost no visible shadows. Lighting from the side is the less common, as it tends to produce glare near eye level. Backlighting either around or through an object is mainly for accent.
Forms of Lighting include alcove lighting, which like most other uplighting is indirect. This is often done with fluorescent lighting or rope light, or occasionally with neon lighting. It is a form of backlighting.
Soffit or close to wall lighting can be general or a decorative wall-wash, sometimes used to bring out texture (like stucco or plaster) on a wall, though this may also show its defects as well. The effect depends heavily on the exact type of lighting source used.
Recessed lighting (often called "pot lights" in Canada, "can lights" or 'high hats" in the U.S.) is popular, with fixtures mounted into the ceiling structure so as to appear flush with it. These downlights can use narrow beam spotlights, or wider-angle floodlights, both of which are bulbs having their own reflectors. There are also downlights with internal reflectors designed to accept common 'A' lamps (light bulbs) which are generally less costly than reflector lamps. Downlights can be incandescent, fluorescent, HID (high intensity discharge) or LED, though only reflector incandescent or HID lamps are available in spot configuration.
Track lighting, invented by Lightolier, was popular at one point because it was much easier to install than recessed lighting, and individual fixtures are decorative and can be easily aimed at a wall. It has regained some popularity recently in low-voltage tracks, which often look nothing like their predecessors because they do not have the safety issues that line-voltage systems have, and are therefore less bulky and more ornamental in themselves. A master transformer feeds all of the fixtures on the track or rod with 12 or 24 volts, instead of each light fixture having its own line-to-low voltage transformer. There are traditional spots and floods, as well as other small hanging fixtures. A modified version of this is cable lighting, where lights are hung from or clipped to bare metal cables under tension.
A sconce is a wall-mounted fixture, particularly one that shines up and sometimes down as well. A torchiere is an uplight intended for ambient lighting. It is typically a floor lamp but may be wall-mounted like a sconce.
The portable or table lamp is probably the most common fixture, found in many homes and offices. The standard lamp and shade that sits on a table is general lighting, while the desk lamp is considered task lighting. Magnifier lamps are also task lighting.
The illuminated ceiling was once popular in the 1960s and 1970s but fell out of favor after the 1980s. This uses diffuser panels hung like a suspended ceiling below fluorescent lights, and is considered general lighting. Other forms include neon, which is not usually intended to illuminate anything else, but to actually be an artwork in itself. This would probably fall under accent lighting, though in a dark nightclub it could be considered general lighting. Underwater accent lighting is also used for koi ponds, fountains, swimming pools and the like.
In a movie theater each step in the aisles is usually marked with a row of small lights, for convenience and safety when the film has started, hence the other lights are off. Traditionally made up of small low wattage, low voltage lamps in a track or translucent tube, these are rapidly being replaced with LED based versions.

Vehicle use

Vehicles typically include headlights and tail lights. Headlights are white or yellow lights placed in the front of the vehicle, designed to illuminate the upcoming road and to make the vehicle more visible. Tail lights are always red and are placed in the rear to quickly alert other drivers about the vehicle's direction of travel. The white portion of the tail light is the back-up lamp, which when lit, is used to indicate that the vehicle's transmission has been placed in the reverse gear, warning anyone behind the vehicle that it is moving backwards, or about to do so.
In addition to lighting for useful purposes, and early 1970s, manufacturers would sometimes backlight their logos and or other translucent panelling. In the 1990s, a popular trend was to customize vehicles with neon lighting, especially underneath the body of a car. In the 2000s, neon lighting is increasingly yielding to digital vehicle lighting, in which bright LEDs are placed on the car and operated by a computer which can be customized and programmed to display a range of changing patterns and colors, a technology borrowed from Christmas lights.


Commonly called 'light bulbs', lamps are the removable and replaceable portion of a luminaire which converts electrical energy to both visible and non-visible electromagnetic energy. Specialists who work with lighting, carefully avoid energetic units for measuring of the light output of sources of light. For example, instead of watt per steradian, the special unit candela is used; 1 candela=(1/683) W/steradian. Common characteristics used to evaluate lamp quality include efficiency measured in lumens per watt, typical lamp life measured in hours, and Color Rendering Index on a scale of 0 to 100. Cost of replacement lamps is also an important factor in any design.

Professional organizations

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), in conjunction with organizations like ANSI and ASHRAE, publishes guidelines, standards, and handbooks that allow categorization of the illumination needs of different built environments. Manufacturers of lighting equipment publish photometric data for their products, which defines the distribution of light released by a specific luminaire. This data is typically expressed in standardized form defined by the IESNA.
The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) is an organization which focuses on the advancement of lighting design education and the recognition of independent professional lighting designers. Those fully independent designers who meet the requirements for professional membership in the association typically append the abbreviation IALD to their name.
The National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP) offers the Lighting Certification Examination which tests rudimentary lighting design principles. Individuals who pass this exam become ‘Lighting Certified’ and may append the abbreviation LC to their name. This certification process is one of three national (U.S.) examinations (the others are CLEP and CLMC) in the lighting industry and is open not only to designers, but to lighting equipment manufacturers, electric utility employees, etc. Generally speaking there is no legal or practical requirement for the lighting design team to possess the certifications discussed.
The Professional Lighting And Sound Association (PLASA) is a UK-based trade organisation representing the 500+ individual and corporate members drawn from the technical services sector. Its members include manufacturers and distributors of stage and entertainment lighting, sound, rigging and similar products and services, and affiliated professionals in the area. They lobby for and represent the interests of the industry at various levels, interacting with government and regulating bodies and presenting the case for the entertainment industry. Example subjects of this representation include the ongoing review of radio frequencies (which may or may not affect the radio bands in which wireless microphones and other devices use) and engaging with the issues surrounding the introduction of the RoHS (Reduction of Hazardous Substances) regulations.
Indian Society of Lighting Engineers (ISLE) is a society in India, which has various professionals such as physicists, lighting engineers, architects, medical professionals and ophthalmologists, light source and fitting manufacturers. ISLE promotes lighting education, helps research and exchange of information and knowledge among the professionals.
ISLE has introduced courses on Lighting Design, Engineering and Architecture in Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal (Karnataka), Jadhavpur University, Kolkata, (West Bengal) School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and Maeer Institute of Technology, Pune, (Maharashtra).
ISLE Karnataka State Center has organized in cooperation with the European Union under the EU ASIA INVEST program a series of training programs in the field of Street Lighting and Outdoor Lighting, which is of particular interest to the municipalities and to tourism developers, with emphasis on techniques, standards, energy conservation, safety, and security.

See also



lighting in Arabic: إضاءة
lighting in Catalan: Il·luminació
lighting in German: Beleuchtung
lighting in Modern Greek (1453-): Φωτεινότητα
lighting in Spanish: Iluminación física
lighting in Esperanto: Lumigo
lighting in French: Éclairage
lighting in Italian: Illuminazione
lighting in Dutch: Verlichtingstechniek
lighting in Japanese: 照明
lighting in Russian: Искусственные источники света
lighting in Swedish: Belysning
lighting in Tamil: ஒளியமைப்பு
lighting in Ukrainian: Джерела світла
lighting in Chinese: 照明

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

arc lighting, black and white, brightening, chiaroscuro, contrast, decorative lighting, direct lighting, electric lighting, enkindling, enlightening, enlightenment, festoon lighting, firing, flammation, floodlighting, fluorescent lighting, gaslighting, glow lighting, highlights, ignition, illuminating, illumination, illumining, incandescent lighting, incendiary, indirect lighting, inflaming, inflammation, inflammative, inflammatory, irradiation, kindling, light and shade, lightening, lighting up, overhead lighting, radiation, spot lighting, stage lighting, strip lighting, tonality
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