Interior Painting Tips

Let's face it, painting is tedious, messy business but we do it anyway because it protects our walls, cabinets and furniture. Giving the interior of your home a new glossy (or matte) finish is essential to the upkeep and appeal of your home, but properly executed painting projects should be given the time and planning it deserves. So, here are our top tips on surviving a painting project.

Sampling and Testing

Go down to your local paint store and get some small cans of samples, some brushes and and some squares. The store can mix these sample paint colors for you if you ask them. For each room you want to paint, create 5 or 6 closely related but different shades of you color and hold them up on the wall. Invite a friend to come help you by offering a second opinion, because you really really want to get this right the first time. There are fewer things more frustrating than finishing a pain job only to realize that you picked the wrong color. There are various online tools you can use by uploading photos of your room. Obviously this approach won't work with furniture, but it will for cabinets. If you're unsure about it, keep trying new ideas and samples. This isn't a race.

Preparation and More Preparation

They say prep is the most important part of a paining project, and that's be cause it is. You're going to need plastic covers, tape, rollers, brushes, sand paper, scrapers, blades, screw drivers, drills and probably a few other items. Take you time getting your job prepped, you'll thank yourself later. Clean and sand surfaces with a fine sandpaper so that any loose paint or bumps on the surface get smoothed out.

Water or Oil Based?

Opinions on this have changed over the years, and most DIYers like water or latex based paint because it is easier to apply, doesn't give off a strong odor, is easier than oil to clean up, and offers the same level of quality and protection. Water based paint is suitable for general painting for walls and ceilings. Oil or acrylic based paint is messy, smells very strong, is hard to clean if it gets on the wrong surface, is generally more difficult to apply and takes longer to dry. But, many experience decorators and painters will tell you that in some cases, it is worth the trouble to use oil. Those cases are:

  1. When you're applying paint to an older layer of oil paint. A new coat of oil based paint will will adhere better to an existing layer of old oil based paint.
  2. You've got a new piece of wood furniture with no finishing, that requires extra protection and appeal. Oil and acrylic pain will last longer and provide long and better protection over the years.
  3. Any item you really want to paint only once. Oil based paint is more durable than water based paint.


Always choose the right brush or roller for your pain job. While it might not sound very important, the brush and roller you use are key to getting the final finish you want. For walls and ceilings you'll be using water based paint, so use rollers and brushes designed for water based paint. The same principle applies for trim and oil based paint, though you'll pay more for oil paint brushes. Ask your paint store if you have questions about what to use.


As we mentioned in the beginning of this guide, proper preparation will help you cut down on excessive clean-up. Paint inevitably gets on surfaces where it doesn't belong, and if it's water based, cleaning it up won't be too much trouble. But if you've done your prep work correctly, unwanted drip and marks should be minimal. One of the reason oil paint isn't used much anymore is because of its toxicity and threat to environment. Depending on where you live, there are recycling and disposal options for leftover paint and chemical. Here is more information about the proper disposal of hazardous household waste (HHW) from the EPA. Or, even better donate your excess supplies to a local charity. They'll appreciate the donation and you'll feel better about the impact you project has on landfills and the environment.


Take your time in planning for and preparing for your indoor painting project. You'll love the results, hopefully stay withing your budget, and enjoy your newly renovated living space.


A Guide to Paint Finishes: From Flat to Fabulously Glossy

Flat, eggshell, satin, gloss: When it comes to interior décor, there are a lot of confusing terms, but at least the names for paint finishes are fairly straightforward. Even the most novice painter can guess what’s what.

Flat (or matte) is a smooth surface without luster. Eggshell resembles its namesake. Satin has a subtle sheen reminiscent of the popular fabric. And gloss is, well, glossy.

When shopping for paints you’re faced with the inevitable question: What finish? To sheen or not to sheen? But there’s so much more behind choosing a paint finish than just their names. Some finishes work better than others in high-traffic areas. Some hide imperfections that are common in older buildings. And others add extra pizazz for home décor projects.

The next time you’re choosing paint finishes, use this user-friendly paint-finish guide -- with some expert input courtesy of international color expert and designer Maria Killam -- to help you find your perfect paint.


The Finish: Flat (aka Matte)

· The Basics: Lacking any sheen whatsoever, flat paint is light-absorbing with a smooth finish. The flat paint finish hides imperfections but also holds dirt and is difficult to clean -- rubbing it with cleanser may even damage the finish.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways and ceilings. “If you have walls with a lot of imperfections, flat hides them,” Killam says. “And ceilings should be flat for that same reason.”

· Good to Know: It’s a good idea to keep extra paint on hand to touch up nicks and scratches in flat finishes.

The Finish: Eggshell (aka Low-Luster)

· The Basics: This low-sheen paint finish resembles the shell of an egg (so, no, the name is not a coincidence). Eggshell paint absorbs light just like its flat counterpart above. It’s best used in lower-traffic areas, and is easier to clean than flat.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, entryways, hallways and trims. “I like walls to have a little shine, so I always specify eggshell for the main rooms in a house, hallways, living and family rooms,” Killam says.

The Finish: Satin (aka Pearl, with certain paint brands)

· The Basics: A subtle finish with a soft sheen that reflects light. This is one of the most versatile finishes as it falls in the middle of the spectrum. It can be wiped clean with ease, making it ideal for active areas.

· The Use: Kitchens, dining rooms, children’s bedrooms, guest or powder baths, laundry rooms, trims, doors and shutters. “Satin is great for bathrooms and kitchens thanks to its high scrub-ability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Semigloss

· The Basics: A step up in sheen from satin, semigloss paint finish reflects more light. It can be scrubbed to keep clean, so it’s a great choice in areas with high traffic.

· The Use: Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, cabinets, doors, trims and moldings. “If you are using latex paint for trim and doors, a higher sheen will give you more durability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Gloss

· The Basics: Gloss paint finishes come with a smooth, high-shine sheen. (Opt for high-gloss paint for the light-reflecting extreme of paint finishes.) Gloss can be scrubbed clean without concern for the finish, so it’s ideal for areas that most often require washing.

· The Use: Kitchens, baths, trims, woodwork, moldings, doors and cabinets. “If you opt to use a high-gloss finish to create an interesting sheen effect, such as on a ceiling or powder room,” Killam says, “spray it on to prevent roller or brush marks in the final finish.”

Winter Style: Holiday on Display

Get the most out of your holiday decorations by mixing up the ways in which you display them. These easy ideas and tips will give your home an extra dose of cheer this year.

Find a New Home for Your Wreath
Just like wreaths can be made from a variety of materials, from ball ornaments to wood shims, they can also be placed in just about any area of your home. From the hallways to the kitchen, the right wreath makes for a festive helping of holiday fun.

To hang wreaths, use wide, fancy ribbon. For particularly heavy wreaths, first string hanging wire onto your wreath for reinforcement. Follow it with ribbon to hide the wire. You’ll get the best of both worlds: sturdy and decorative.

Creative Displays
Christmas ornaments aren’t just for the tree. Fill a decorative bowl with colorful balls to make a pretty centerpiece. Keep the container’s color neutral so that the ornaments truly shine.

Make the Most of Your Space
If you have limited space, or would like to carry the Christmas spirit throughout your home, consider smaller pieces. They pull more than their decorative weight with vibrant colors, plus they’re easy to move around and blend well into any holiday scene.

You can also extend your holiday décor by placing figurines and other treasures creatively throughout your home. Mantels and entryways -- and even unexpected places like powder rooms -- benefit from the festive touch.

Create a Colorful Scene
Mix it up! Traditional single-hue ornaments get extra attention when they’re paired with others that use stripes or unusual shapes. Paint faux branches and berries in complementary colors for an easy way to bring them all together.

Bring the Outside In
Bring a little of the outdoors into your holiday décor. Dip pinecones in metallic paint and thread them with gold string for a sophisticated hanging ornament. You can add a touch of the metallic paint to faux flowers and birds, too, and perch them on the tree.

Consider the Details
Pay attention to the details for maximum decorating impact. Applying glitter spray paint to just about any object will give it a textured, festive shimmer. Ribbons tied to garlands add another layer of color.

Also take pieces from your holiday theme and put them in unexpected places. Save a few pinecones and hot glue them to a centerpiece at the top of a lamp. Or make ornaments out of them and hang from doorknobs.

Safe-Keep Your Decorations
To ensure your ornaments last for years to come, wrap them in acid-free tissue papper. In a crunch, old dish towels work well, too. For further protection and organization, make a grid out of cardboard to place them inside storage boxes.

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Stylish Ways to Stay Organized at Home

Is your space looking a little jumbled lately? Good news: You can get organized while keeping your home’s décor interesting. We enlisted the help of organization expert Jodie Watson from TLC’s “Real Simple, Real Life” to uncover new, fashion-forward fixes for the most common kinds of at-home clutter.


Start with the one place you look every day that’s probably more disorganized than you realize: Your closet. You know how clothes always look way more chic on the store rack than when they’re hung up at home? That’s because the best shops perfect their presentation to make whatever they’re selling look most appealing.

Turn your closet into a “shopable” space by investing in nice wooden hangers (a staple at chic boutiques), and re-hang everything so that all like-items are together. Keep skirts with skirts, casual tops with casual tops, and so on. Your wardrobe will look and feel more put-together, helping eliminate those morning I-seriously-have-nothing-to-wear moments.

Seasonal Storage

As much as you love your summer wardrobe, it has no business occupying prime real estate in your closet or dresser during the colder months. Free up space by snagging some wicker baskets or other decorative boxes from a craft store, the pack them full of your clothes, shoes and accessories that are out of season. Draw up some cute labels to mark the outside of each box, then stow them on the top shelf of your closet so they’re in sight but out of the way.


Go DIY to organize grooming and beauty items, such as makeup. Clean out four or five tin cans in different sizes, stripping off any outside labels. Pick out a shelf paper in a pattern you like (Watson recommends and glue that paper to the outside of the can so no tin is showing. Line the cans along your bathroom counter and fill them with brushes, makeup, razors, tweezers and more to add flair and order to your bathroom. Win-win.


It’s tempting to tuck extras like belts and scarves into a drawer -- but that’s begging to become a jumbled mess. For a better solution, invest in self-adhesive wall hooks and affix them to areas that aren’t being used for anything else (like the dead space between your dresser and the adjacent wall or on the back of a closet door). Hang scarves, belts, purses and more on each hook. Not only will you make them easier to access, but you’ll also liven up your room with the display.


When you lose an earring or tangle a necklace, it can be ruined like that. For a practical-yet-pretty fix, buy a jewelry organizer with small drawers, which will keep you from having to thread your earrings through mesh or hang your necklaces on a hook every time. The drawers provide both easy access and storage, and will make your collection look and feel more consolidated, plus the organizer doubles as a chic decoration for your dresser top. 

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Lighting Guide



Amperes (Amps)

A measure of electrical current. In incandescent lamps, the current is related to voltage and power as follows: Current (Amps) = Power (Watts) / Voltage (Volts).


American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

A consensus-based organization which coordinates voluntary standards for the physical, electrical and performance characteristics of lamps, ballasts, luminaires and other lighting and electrical equipment.





An auxiliary piece of equipment required to start and to properly control the flow of current to gas discharge light sources such as fluorescent and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps.


Ballast Factor (BF)

This is the percentage of a lamp's rated lumen output that can be expected when operated on a specific, commercially available ballast. For example, a ballast with a ballast factor of 0.93 will result in the lamp's emitting 93% of its rated lumen output. A ballast with a lower BF results in less light output and also generally consumes less power.



A style of bulb base which uses keyways instead of threads to connect the bulb to the fixture base. The bulb is locked in place by pushing it down and turning it clockwise.


Beam Angle

The angular dimension of the cone of light from reflectorized lamps (such as R and PAR types) encompassing the central part of the beam out to the angle where the intensity is 50% of maximum. The beam angle sometimes called "beam spread" is often part of the ordering code for the reflectorized lamps. Example: The 50PAR30/HIR/NFL25 is a 50 watt PAR30 narrow flood lamp with a beam angle of 25 degrees. See also Field Angle.



This is the typical base for a fluorescent tube of 1 to 4 feet in length. It consists of two prong contacts which connect into the fixture. Medium bi-pins are used with type T-8 and T-12 tubular fluorescent lamps, and miniature bi-pins are used for tubular T-5 fluorescent lamps.





Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

An organization that writes standards and tests lighting equipment for performance as well as electrical and fire safety. Canadian provincial laws generally require that all products sold for consumer use in Canada must have CSA or equivalent approval.


Candela (CD)

The measure of luminous intensity of a source in a given direction. The term has been retained from the early days of lighting when a standard candle of a fixed size and composition was defined as producing one candela in every direction. A plot of intensity versus direction is called a candela distribution curve and is often provided for reflectorized lamps and for luminaires with a lamp operating in them.



An obsolete term for luminous intensity; current practice is to refer to this simply as candelas.


Center Beam Candlepower (CBCP)

Refers to the luminous intensity at the center of the beam of a blown or pressed reflector lamp (such as a PAR lamp). Measured in candelas.


Ceramic Metal Halide

A type of metal halide lamp that uses a ceramic material for the arc tube instead of glass quartz, resulting in better color rendering (>80 CRI) and improved lumen maintenance.


Coefficient of Utilization (CU)

In general lighting calculations, the fraction of initial lamp lumens that reach the work plane. CU is a function of luminaire efficiency, room surface reflectances and room shape.


Color Rendering Index (CRI)

An international system used to rate a lamp's ability to render object colors. The higher the CRI (based upon a 0-100 scale) the richer colors generally appear. CRI ratings of various lamps may be compared, but a numerical comparison is only valid if the lamps are close in color temperature. CRI differences among lamps are not usually significant (visible to the eye) unless the difference is more than 3 to 5 points.


Color Temperature (Correlated Color Temperature-CCT)

A number indicating the degree of "yellowness" or "blueness" of a white light source. Measured in kelvins, CCT represents the temperature an incandescent object (like a filament) must reach to mimic the color of the lamp. Yellowish-white ("warm") sources, like incandescent lamps, have lower color temperatures in the 2700K-3000K range; white and bluish-white ("cool") sources, such as cool white (4100K) and natural daylight (6000K), have higher color temperatures. The higher the color temperature the whiter, or bluer, the light will be.


Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

The general term applied to fluorescent lamps that are single-ended and that have smaller diameter tubes that are bent to form a compact shape. Some CFLs have integral ballasts and medium or candalabra screw bases for easy replacement of incandescent lamps.






See Luminous Efficacy


Electromagnetic Spectrum

A continuum of electric and magnetic radiation that can be characterized by wavelength or frequency. Visible light encompasses a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum in the region from about 380 nanometers (violet) to 770 nanometers (red) by wavelength.


Electronic Ballast

A short name for a fluorescent high-frequency electronic ballast. Electronic ballasts use solid state electronic components and typically operate fluorescent lamps at frequencies in the range of 25 to 35 kHz. The benefits are: increased lamp efficacy, reduced ballast losses and lighter, smaller ballasts compared to electromagnetic ballasts. Electronic ballasts may also be used with HID (high intensity discharge) lamps.


Elliptical Reflector (ER) Lamp

An incandescent lamp with a built-in elliptically shaped reflecting surface. This shape produces a focal point directly in front of the lamp which reduces the light absorption in some types of luminaires. It is particularly effective at increasing the efficacy of baffled downlights.


Energy Policy Act (EPACT)

Comprehensive energy legislation passed by the U. S. Congress in 1992. The lighting portion includes lamp labeling and minimum energy efficacy (lumens/watt) requirements for many commonly used incandescent and fluorescent lamp types. Federal Canadian legislation sets similar minimum energy efficacy requirements for incandescent reflector lamps and common linear fluorescent lamps.





Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The U. S. Federal agency that regulates emissions in the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Part 18 of the FCC rules specifies electromagnetic interference (EMI) from lighting devices operating at frequencies greater than 9 kilohertz (kHz). Typical electronically-ballasted compact fluorescent lamps operate in the 24 to 100 kHz frequency range.


Field Angle

The angular dimension of the cone of light from reflectorized lamps (such as R and PAR types) encompassing the central part of the beam out to the angle where the intensity is 10% of maximum. See Beam Angle.


Fluorescent Lamp

A high efficiency lamp utilizing an electric discharge through low pressure mercury vapor to produce ultra-violet (UV) energy. The UV excites phosphor materials applied as a thin layer on the inside of a glass tube which makes up the structure of the lamp. The phosphors transform the UV to visible light.


Footcandle (FC)

A unit of illuminance or light falling onto a surface. It stands for the light level on a surface one foot from a standard candle. One footcandle is equal to one lumen per square foot. See also Lux.


Full Spectrum Lighting

A marketing term, typically associated with light sources that are similar to some forms of natural daylight (5000K and above, 90+ CRI), but sometimes more broadly used for lamps that have a smooth and continuous color spectrum.





Halogen Lamp

A halogen lamp is an incandescent lamp with a filament that is surrounded by halogen gases, such as iodine or bromine. Halogen gases allow the filaments to be operated at higher temperatures and higher efficacies. The halogen participates in a tungsten transport cycle, returning tungsten to the filament and prolonging lamp life.


Halogen-IR (HIR) Lamp

High-efficiency tungsten halogen lamps. HIR lamps utilize shaped filament tubes coated with numerous layers of materials that transmit light but reflect the heat (infrared) back into the filament. This reduces the power needed to keep the filament hot.


High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamp

A general term for mercury, metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps. HID lamps contain compact arc tubes which enclose various gases and metal salts operating at relatively high pressures and temperatures.


High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) Lamp

HPS lamps are high intensity discharge light sources that produce light by an electrical discharge though sodium vapor operating at relatively high pressures and temperatures.






The "density" of light (lumens/area) incident on a surface; i.e. the light level on a surface. Illuminance is measured in footcandles or lux.


Incandescent Lamp

A light source that generates light utilizing a thin filament wire (usually of tungsten) heated to white heat by an electric current passing through it.


Induction Lighting

Gases can be excited directly by radio-frequency or microwaves from a coil that creates induced electromagnetic fields. This is called induction lighting and it differs from a conventional discharge, which uses electrodes to carry current into the arc. Induction lamps have no electrodes inside the chamber and generally, therefore, have longer life than standard lamps.


Infrared Radiation

Electromagnetic energy radiated in the wavelength range of about 770 to 1,000,000 nanometers. Energy in this range cannot be seen by the human eye, but can be sensed as heat by the skin.


Instant Start

A type of ballast designed to start fluorescent lamps as soon as the power is applied. Most T8 fluorescent lamps are being operated on electronic instant-start ballasts.





Kilowatt (KW)

The measure of electrical power equal to 1000 watts.


Kilowatt Hour(KWH)

The standard measure of electrical energy and the typical billing unit used by electrical utilities for electricity use. A 100-watt lamp operated for 10 hours consumes 1000 watt-hours (100 x 10) or one kilowatt-hour. If the utility charges $.10/kWh, then the electricity cost for the 10 hours of operation would be 10 cents (1 x $.10)






The term used to refer to the complete light source package, including the inner parts as well the outer bulb or tube. "Lamp", of course, is also commonly used to refer to a type of small light fixture such as a table lamp.



See Rated Lamp Life.



Radiant energy that can be sensed or seen by the human eye. Visible light is measured in lumens.


Light Center Length (L.C.L.)

The distance between the center of the filament, or arc tube, and a reference plane - usually the bottom of the lamp base. Refer to the following chart for reference plane locations.

Base type

L.C.L Reference Plane Location

All screw bases (except Mini-Can)

Bottom of base contact


Where diameter of ceramic base insulator is .531 inches

3-Contact Medium

Bottom of base contact

Mogul Medium Prefocus

Top of base fins

Mogul Prefocus

Top of base fins

Medium BiPost

Base end of bulb (Glass lamps)
Bottom of ceramic base (Quartz lamps)

Mogul BiPost

Shoulder of posts (Glass lamps)
Bottom of ceramic base (Quartz lamps)

2-Pin Prefocus

Bottom of ceramic base

S.C. or D.C. Bayonet Candelabra

Top of base pins

Medium Bayonet

Top of base pins

S.C. or D.C. Prefocus

Plane of locating bases on prefocus collar

Medium 2-Pin

Bottom of metal base shell



A measure of the luminous flux or quantity of light emitted by a source. For example, a dinner candle provides about 12 lumens. A 60-watt Soft White incandescent lamp provides about 840 lumens.


Lumen Maintenance

A measure of how well a lamp maintains its light output over time. It may be expressed numerically or as a graph of light output vs. time.


Lumens Per Watt (LPW)

A ratio expressing the luminous efficacy of a light source.


Typical Lamp Efficacies:

Thomas Edison's first lamp — 1.4 lpW

Incandescent lamps — 10-40

Halogen incandescent lamps — 20-45

Fluorescent lamps — 35-105

Mercury lamps — 50-60

Metal halide lamps — 60-120

High-pressure sodium lamps — 60-140

Note: The values above for discharge lamps do not include the effect of the ballasts, which must be used with those lamps. Taking ballast losses into account reduces "system" or lamp-ballast efficacies typically by 10-20% depending upon the type of ballast used.



A complete lighting unit consisting of a lamp (or lamps), ballast (or ballasts) as required together with the parts designed to distribute the light, position and protect the lamps and connect them to the power supply. A luminaire is often referred to as a fixture.


Luminaire Efficiency

The ratio of total lumens emitted by a luminaire to those emitted by the lamp or lamps used in that luminaire.



A photometric measure of "brightness" of a surface as seen by the observer, measured in candelas per square meter.


Luminous Efficacy

The light output (lumens) of a light source divided by the total power input (watts) to that source. It is expressed in lumens per watt.



A unit of illuminance or light falling onto a surface. One lux is equal to one lumen per square meter. Ten lux approximately equals one footcandle.





Maximum Overall Length (M.O.L.)

The end-to-end measurement of a lamp, expressed in inches or millimeters.


Mean Lumens

The average light output of a lamp over its rated life. Based on the shape of the lumen depreciation curve, for fluorescent and metal halide lamps, mean lumens are measured at 40% of rated lamp life. For mercury, high-pressure sodium and incandescent lamps, mean lumen ratings refer to lumens at 50% of rated lamp life. See Lumen Maintenance.


Mercury Lamp

A high-intensity discharge light source operating at a relatively high pressure (about 1 atmosphere) and temperature in which most of the light is produced by radiation from excited mercury vapor. Phosphor coatings on some lamp types add additional light and improve color rendering.


Metal Halide Lamp

A high-intensity discharge light source in which the light is produced by the radiation from mercury, plus halides of metals such as sodium, scandium, indium and dysprosium. Some lamp types may also utilize phosphor coatings.






A unit of wavelength equal to one billionth of a meter.





Par Lamp

PAR is an acronym for parabolic aluminized reflector. A PAR lamp, which may utilize either an incandescent filament, a halogen filament tube or a HID arc tube, is a precision pressed-glass reflector lamp. PAR lamps rely on both the internal reflector and prisms in the lens for control of the light beam.



An inorganic chemical compound processed into a powder and deposited on the inner glass surface of fluorescent tubes and some mercury and metal-halide lamp bulbs. Phosphors are designed to absorb short wavelength ultraviolet radiation and to transform and emit it as visible light.


Power Factor (PF)

A measure of the phase difference between voltage and current drawn by an electrical device, such as a ballast or motor. Power factors can range from 0 to 1.0, with 1.0 being ideal. Power factor is sometimes expressed as a percent. Incandescent lamps have power factors close to 1.0 because they are simple "resistive" loads. The power factor of a fluorescent and HID lamp system is determined by the ballast used. "High" power factor usually means a rating of 0.9 or greater. Power companies may penalize users for using low power factor devices.


Preheat Circuit

A type of fluorescent lamp-ballast circuit used with the first commercial fluorescent lamp products. A push button or automatic switch is used to preheat the lamp cathodes to a glow state. Starting the lamp can then be accomplished using simple "choke" or reactor ballasts.





Rapid Start Circuit

A fluorescent lamp-ballast circuit that utilizes continuous cathode heating, while the system is energized, to start and maintain lamp light output at efficient levels. Rapid start ballasts may be either electromagnetic, electronic or of hybrid designs. Full-range fluorescent lamp dimming is only possible with rapid start systems.


Rated Lamp Life

For most lamp types, rated lamp life is the length of time of a statistically large sample between first use and the point when 50% of the lamps have died. It is possible to define "useful life" of a lamp based on practical considerations involving lumen depreciation and color shift.


Reflector Lamp (R)

A light source with a built-in reflecting surface. Sometimes, the term is used to refer specifically to blown bulbs like the R and ER lamps; at other times, it includes all reflectorized lamps like PAR and MR.





Scotopic/Photopic (S/P) Ratio

This measurement accounts for the fact that of the two light sensors in the retina, rods are more sensitive to blue light (pcotopic vision) and cones to yellow light (photopic vision). The pcotopic/photopic (S/P) ratio is an attempt to capture the relative strengths of these two responses. S/P is calculated as the ration of scotopic lumens to photopic lumens for the light source on an ANSI reference ballast. Cooler sources (higher color temperatures lamps) tend to have higher values of the S/P ratio compared to warm sources.


Specification Series (SP) Colors

Energy-efficient, all-purpose, tri-phosphor fluorescent lamp colors that provide good color rendering. The CRI for SP colors is 70 or above and varies by specific lamp type.


Specification Series Deluxe (SPX) Colors

Energy-efficient, all-purpose, tri-phosphor fluorescent lamp colors that provide better color rendering than Specification Series (SP) colors. The CRI for SPX colors is 80 or above and varies by specific lamp type. All GE CFL products use SPX phosphors.


Spectral Power Distribution (SPD)

A graph of the radiant power emitted by a light source as a function of wavelength. SPDs provide a visual profile or "finger print" of the color characteristics of the source throughout the visible part of the spectrum.






The Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) test, specified in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1990, is used to characterize fluorescent lamp waste as hazardous or nonhazardous waste. The TCLP test measures the ability of the mercury and/or lead in a lamp to leach from a landfill into groundwater.


Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)

A measure of the distortion of the input current on alternating current (AC) power systems caused by higher order harmonics of the fundamental frequency (60Hz in North America). THD is expressed in percent and may refer to individual electrical loads (such as ballast) or a total electrical circuit or system in a building. ANSI C82.77 recommends THD not exceed 32% for individual commercial electronic ballasts, although some electrical utilities may require lower THDs on some systems. Excessive THDs on electrical systems can cause efficiency losses as well as overheating and deterioration of system components.





Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

A private organization which tests and lists electrical (and other) equipment for electrical and fire safety according to recognized UL and other standards. A UL listing is not an indication of overall performance. Lamps are not UL listed except for compact fluorescent lamp assemblies - those with screw bases and built-in ballasts.


Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation

Radiant energy in the range of about 100-380 nanometers (nm). For practical applications, the UV band is broken down further as follows:

Ozone-producing? 180-220 nm

Bactericidal (germicidal)? 220-300

Erythemal (skin reddening)? 280-320

"Black" light ? 320-400

The International Commission on Illumination (CIE) defines the UV band as UV-A (315-400 nm); UV-B (280-315 nm) and UV-C (100-280 mm).






A measurement of the electromotive force in an electrical circuit or device expressed in volts. Voltage can be thought of as being analogous to the pressure in a waterline.






A unit of electrical power. Lamps are rated in watts to indicate the rate at which they consume energy. See Kilowatt Hour.