Light Operation and Function

When designing a space and deciding on the type of lamps to put into the area you should keep in mind their operation and what they need to function. Not only will this impact the way your space is going to look but it may increase or minimize future maintenance on the fixture and lighting system.
How Different Lamps Operate
The light output of incandescent lamps will vary according to the amount of electrical current applied to it. The higher the current to the light the greater the output. This is why dimmers work well with this type of lamp. The output of fluorescent lamps depends on the environmental temperature of the light. If the temperature is too hot or cold the output drops below the lamps rating. This can also effect the color of the light produced. The lamp life of a fluorescent lamp depends on how many times the light is turned on. The lamps ballast helps to regulate the voltage so voltage doesn't have any effect on its lifespan. The output and lifespan if HID lamps varies depending on the lamp, but some are affected by their operational position. Temperature and voltage have little to do with how long they will last.
The Role of Ballasts and Transformers
Ballasts and transformers control the amount of voltage and current the lamp receives. You will find these mounted in the light fixture or remotely as part of the circuit. The only exception to this is in self-ballasted fluorescent lamps, and these the ballast is part of the light fixture. You will need to make sure that the ballast or transformer in your light fixture is compatible with the lamp it is controlling. Low voltage incandescent lamps require a transformer to reduce the voltage. Other incandescent lamps con operate without an auxiliary device. Fluorescent and HID lamps require ballasts to operate properly.
Dimmer and Switch Operation
HID lamps - Dimming of these lamps is quite rare and can be quite expensive and require specialized equipment. This type of lamp requires a warm up period before each time it is turned on before it will function properly and safely. After they are turned off they require a cool down time before they can be turned on again.
Incandescent lamps - These can be dimmed easily with inexpensive dimmers. Dimmers generally extend the life of the lamp. Low voltage lamps will require special dimmers in order to work properly. Lamp life is not tied to how many times it is turned on and off. It has an average rated lifespan.
Fluorescent lamps - These can also be dimmed easily, but special ballasts and dimmers are required. Dimming has no impact on the lifespan of the lamp but turning the lamp on and off a lot will reduce its rated life.
Keeping function and operation of a lamp in mind seems simple and maybe it is obvious, but it is important to talk about. It you keep these things in mind while designing your space not only will things look good but they will function with ease.

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