Lighting terminology. You'd think it would be easy. We all grew up surrounded by lights so we should darn well know what to call them.
But if you've ever been bothered by someone telling you that you shouldn't have ended your sentence with a preposition, you know that common usage doesn't always meet the exacting language of a professional.
Light bulbs are a case in point. You know what a light bulb is -- it's a product that provides us with light through a glass (or plastic) outer surface. That seems obvious. Until a professional tells you that isn't a light bulb at all; it's a lamp.
Of course that's ridiculous because you know what a lamp is, and you're not going to fall for this tomfoolery. A "lamp" is something you put a light bulb into. Turn a switch on the lamp and the light bulb turns on or off.
But no, what you're calling a lamp -- like a table lamp or floor lamp -- isn't a lamp at all; it's a fixture, or luminaire. Fixtures can be portable or they can be stationary, like a recessed lighting can or a floodlight attached to the outside of a building. The fixture holds the lamp, which provides the light.
So what you thought was a bulb is a lamp, and what you thought was a lamp is a fixture.
Except that's like saying you cannot use a preposition at the end of a sentence. Yet it happens all the time, it's perfectly understandable, and most people don't even remember what a preposition is. In fact these days, asking "With whom are you speaking?" rather than "Who are you speaking with?" sounds formal and pretty out of touch with the rest of the world.
So should we call it a bulb or a lamp? A lamp or a fixture? Is the most important thing to be "right," or to be understood?
Here at Lighting Supply, we've been in the lighting business since 1983, and our goal has always been to meet the needs of our customers. So with our contractor customers, you may well hear us call a "bulb" a lamp. But our website typically uses the term "bulb" because we know this is the term most people use and search for today. We feel this is the right balance to meet the needs of others.
But now you know the difference if you didn't already. And if you're not in the lighting industry yourself, now you can speak like you are.
And what about lamps vs. fixtures on our website? Well we focus on commercial lighting supplies, so we don't sell table lamps or floor lamps. That makes it easy for us to stick with the term fixture for all our floodlights, wallpacks, high bay fixtures, and more.
Now if you can just tell us the shape, base, color temperature, wattage, and technology you need, we'll be happy to sell you any lamp we carry. Or bulb. Isn't lighting easy?
(At least we're here to help when you need a hand choosing the right product for your needs!)