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Lighting 101: Terms to Know

Key Terms to Know for Your Next Lighting Project

This guide works to break down all things lighting so that you can shop with confidence when updating your home’s interior and exterior lighting.

Key Terms to Know for Your Next Lighting Project

This guide works to break down all things lighting so that you can shop with confidence when updating your home’s interior and exterior lighting.


Table of Contents

  • Lumens (lm)
  • Watts (W)
  • Colour Temperature Kelvins (K)
  • Colour Rendering Index (CRI)
  • Insulation Contact Rating (IC)
  • Ingress Protection Rating (IP)
  • Lumens (lm)
  • Watts (W)
  • Colour Temperature/Kelvins (K)
  • Colour Rendering Index (CRI)
  • Insulation Contact Rating (IC)
  • Ingress Protection Rating (IP)

Lumens (lm)

This is the measure of how bright the total light output of the fixture is – the higher the lumen count, the brighter your light will be.

Watts (W)

Wattage indicates how much energy is consumed for the fixture to function. For traditional incandescent globes, the general rule is the higher the wattage the brighter the light. For

LED or other energy-efficient alternatives, the lower the wattage, the more efficient it will be. Consider this alongside the lumen count to get the best performance.

Lumens (lm)

This is the measure of how bright the total light output of the fixture is – the higher the lumen count, the brighter your light will be.

Watts (W)

Wattage indicates how much energy is consumed for the fixture to function. For traditional incandescent globes, the general rule is the higher the wattage the brighter the light. For

LED or other energy-efficient alternatives, the lower the wattage, the more efficient it will be. Consider this alongside the lumen count to get the best performance.


Colour Temperature/Kelvins (K)

Colour Temperature indicates the light appearance emitted by a fixture and is measured in kelvins (K).

Typical colour temperatures:

Warm White - 2000K to 3000K

Natural / Neutral White - 4000K

Cool White - 5000K

Daylight White - 6000K +

Colour Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI measures the bulb's capacity to expose the true colour of an object or space under the light. CRI is reflected as a rating between 0-100, the higher the rating the better the colour rendering quality. CRI is important when considering the accuracy of the light emitted. For interior spaces where true colour is needed, such as bathrooms and bedrooms, make sure you choose a bulb with a high CRI. Anything lower than 80 will not reflect an accurate picture of wall colours or furniture details.

Colour Temperature/Kelvins (K)

Colour Temperature indicates the light appearance emitted by a fixture and is measured in kelvins (K).

Typical colour temperatures:

Warm White - 2000K to 3000K

Natural / Neutral White - 4000K

Cool White - 5000K

Daylight White - 6000K +

Colour Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI measures the bulb's capacity to expose the true colour of an object or space under the light. CRI is reflected as a rating between 0-100, the higher the rating the better the colour rendering quality. CRI is important when considering the accuracy of the light emitted. For interior spaces where true colour is needed, such as bathrooms and bedrooms, make sure you choose a bulb with a high CRI. Anything lower than 80 will not reflect an accurate picture of wall colours or furniture details.


Insulation Contact Rating (IC)

An IC rating is essentially a measurement to determine if a downlight is suitable and safe to come in contact with insulation or not. A layer of insulation in the ceilings and walls protects most homes these days. This acts as a barrier to heat flow, helping ensure your home is cool in summer and warm in winter.

Insulation, however, can be extremely flammable, hence the installation of any lighting can become a fire hazard. Downlights are fitted in a way that often comes into contact with your home insulation. If a downlight has an IC rating, it has met the requirement as set out by the New Australian Standard on Recessed Luminaries standard. Benefits of IC-rated downlights include less chance of a fire hazard, simpler installation costs associated and avoiding thermal loss.

Insulation Contact Rating (IC)

An IC rating is essentially a measurement to determine if a downlight is suitable and safe to come in contact with insulation or not. A layer of insulation in the ceilings and walls protects most homes these days. This acts as a barrier to heat flow, helping ensure your home is cool in summer and warm in winter.

Insulation, however, can be extremely flammable, hence the installation of any lighting can become a fire hazard. Downlights are fitted in a way that often comes into contact with your home insulation. If a downlight has an IC rating, it has met the requirement as set out by the New Australian Standard on Recessed Luminaries standard. Benefits of IC-rated downlights include less chance of a fire hazard, simpler installation costs associated and avoiding thermal loss.

Insulation Contact Rating (IC)

An IC rating is essentially a measurement to determine if a downlight is suitable and safe to come in contact with insulation or not. A layer of insulation in the ceilings and walls protects most homes these days. This acts as a barrier to heat flow, helping ensure your home is cool in summer and warm in winter.

Insulation, however, can be extremely flammable, hence the installation of any lighting can become a fire hazard. Downlights are fitted in a way that often comes into contact with your home insulation. If a downlight has an IC rating, it has met the requirement as set out by the New Australian Standard on Recessed Luminaries standard. Benefits of IC-rated downlights include less chance of a fire hazard, simpler installation costs associated and avoiding thermal loss.


Ingress Protection Rating (IP)

The ingress protection rating defines the sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against foregin particles like accidental contact, dust, moisture, liquids, etc. The rating is read as IP followed by 2 digits: the first digit, relating to protection against the ingress of solid particles, and the second is the protection against the ingress of water.

Typically those with a rating of IP65, 66 & 67 are considered IP waterproof ratings. For interior applications such as the bathroom a IP rating of IP44 or IP65 is sufficient subject to the location the lamp is installed.

Ingress Protection Rating (IP)

The ingress protection rating defines the sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against foregin particles like accidental contact, dust, moisture, liquids, etc. The rating is read as IP followed by 2 digits: the first digit, relating to protection against the ingress of solid particles, and the second is the protection against the ingress of water.

Typically those with a rating of IP65, 66 & 67 are considered IP waterproof ratings. For interior applications such as the bathroom a IP rating of IP44 or IP65 is sufficient subject to the location the lamp is installed.


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