LUMINAIRE, LAMP, ILLUMINANT?
WHAT IS WHAT?
In normal language, especially for end customers, one means as much as the other and all terms stand for the same thing. But this is simply NOT true! Why? You will find out now!
LAMP OR LUMINAIRE?
Especially the terms “lamp” and “luminaire” are commonly used as synonyms, whereas this is exactly WRONG. This probably stems from the earlier naming of the “incandescent lamp”. At that time, it was decided to use the term lamp, because “incandescent illuminant” sounds a bit long and cumbersome. So it remained with lamp, which now basically refers to all light sources.
Illuminant and lamp
The illuminant and the lamp are therefore synonyms. They refer to the actual light source, i.e. the electrical components that produce the light. What is still called an incandescent lamp or light bulb today is actually correct and refers to the illuminant. Consequently, halogen lamps, for example, should be called halogen illuminants. But nobody does. Why? Here, too, remnants of earlier linguistic usage are to blame. In the past, lamp and luminaire could hardly be separated, e.g. the paraffin lamp. There, the entire device is the light source.
The term luminaire refers to the entire unit used for lighting. It consists of many individual components, e.g. fixture, power connection, socket, etc. Luminaires come in many designs, variants, materials and construction methods. Starting with the classic ceiling luminaires, pendants, table luminaires, etc., the LED luminaire is the most popular.
In some, the LED light source is already permanently installed and cannot be replaced, while others can be fitted with the preferred lamps.
Light sources and lamps are therefore usually fixed in a luminaire, with the electrical contact being made in the luminaire’s socket. In most cases, the bulb can be replaced in commercially available luminaires without special knowledge or tools. This makes a lot of sense, because the luminaire usually has a longer service life than the lamp.
So, especially when buying online, don’t get confused! Just remember:
The lamp is the illuminant and belongs into the luminaire.
By the way: the term “light bulb” does not officially exist, but in common usage it refers to the light-emitting illuminant whose shape is reminiscent of a bulb.
Consumers like to use the term, professionals throw their hands up in horror. A good compromise: incandescent lamp, and everyone knows what is meant.