Do you struggle with the harshness of overhead lighting? So do we. If you’re turned off by the lurid glare of your ceiling lights, you’ve probably opted for a humble lamp.
Lamps are a simple and effective way to change the whole mood of a room, and although they come in all shapes and sizes, they all have a similar anatomy.
Unfortunately, if a part of your lamp breaks, you may need to put your DIY skills to the test and fix certain components yourself.
There’s nothing worse than heading down to the hardware store and being unable to tell a sales rep exactly what you need; that’s why we’ve put together this convenient guide to the anatomy of a lamp. You’ll never be in the dark again!
What Are The Components Of A Lamp?
All lamps are made of the same components, including:
- Lamp base
- Anti-slip bottom
- Socket shell
- Lampshade fitting
- Insulation sleeve
- Tube knot
- Threaded tube
Need a visual cue? Here’s a diagram to help you understand the placement of these components. Note: some fittings may have different names to those used above; we’ll explore these later.
Do All Lamps Have The Same Anatomy?
Although most lamps have the same anatomy, some may differ. For example, some of the components seen on the table lamp above, may not be present on a floor lamp.
However, the main components (such as lampshade fittings, shades, a base, and a switch) will be present on them all. We’ll explore some of the differences in anatomy below.
However, to ensure you become familiar with all the potential components of a lamp, we’ll be focusing on table lamps which often include the most parts.
Lamp Anatomy Explained
Here are the key components of a lamp’s anatomy and what they mean:
The lampshade fitting can be thought of as the skeleton of the lampshade. It’s usually made of wire or metal, and it will curve in the shape of the lampshade to give your lamp its structure and definition. This sits below the shade and is usually attached around the lightbulb fitting.
Some of the most common lampshade fittings include:
- Washer and spider fitter
- Regular bulb clip
- Candle bulb clip
- Nardi or Slip UNO fitter
- Euro fitter
- Hurricane or chimney fitter
- Threaded UNO fitter
- Reflector bowl fitter
Your lampshade is often the defining feature of your lamp. A lampshade doesn’t just offer aesthetic appeal, it’s also practical, and it works to shield your eyes from the harshness of the exposed lightbulb.
Lampshades will look different on each lamp, and they may be attached to the lamp or feature as a decorative addition. They’re made from various materials including glass, metal, and fabric.
The most common lampshade designs include:
- Tapered drum
- Shallow drum
- Classic drum
- Shallow tapered drum
- Classic oval
- Classic empire
- Gallery empire
- Pembroke empire
- Sharp corner square
- Cut corner inverted square bell
- Sharp corner rectangle
- Sharp corner square tapered
Harp And Harp Holder
Next up, we have a harp and harp holder – two of the most important parts of a lamp. Even if you don’t know these by name, you’ll know them by appearance – these are the parts of a lamp that offer vertical support for both the shade and the bulb, and they run vertical to the lampshade and bulb.
The bulb is a self-explanatory part of the lamp anatomy. The bulb is the primary source of light for the lamp and without it, your lamp will be completely useless.
The bulbs used in your lamps will vary, but most use between 100-watt to 120-volt light bulbs. Most lamp owners will choose newer light bulb models, which tend to be more energy efficient and have a longer lifespan than older bulbs.
The shape and color of your bulbs can also differ. Although most lamps come with standard white or beige bulbs, you can even purchase multicolored bulbs to add an entirely different aesthetic to your room.
Some decorative bulbs may also come in different shapes, such as fake flames. You don’t have to keep the bulb in your new lamp, and you can buy any bulb you wish, as long as it has the correct fitting and voltage.
Socket (Socket Shell And Lamp Holder)
The socket and socket shell are two of the most essential parts of a lamp. The socket is the space that connects the light bulb to the lamp.
However, not every lamp will come with a socket shell – but those that don’t will still need a socket to secure the light bulb into place. The socket will provide the electrical connection between the lamp and the bulb which will allow your light source to work.
Sockets and lamp holders come in different shapes and sizes, and they may look different depending on the style of lamp you own. Other types of lamp holders can include:
These holders are available in two voltages and come in different shapes and sizes, usually rectangular.
Medium-base lamp holders are the most common found in table lamps, and they’re often called Edison holders.
A bayonet lamp holder will have two pints that can be used to secure the bulb in place. You’ll usually find these on medium-sized table lamps.
Fluorescent holders can secure a number of bulbs, such as bent, linear, and compact models. They’ll have either one or two pins.
Wedge base holders are designed to secure wedge-shaped bulb bases. These holders will come in a variety of materials and styles.
Metal halide sockets can withstand high temperatures from light bulbs, and are found in a variety of lamps.
Mogul-base holders are made from porcelain, which like metal-halide bulbs, allows them to withstand high heat.
Your lamp may also feature a threaded tube. These aren’t compulsory, but some lamps will have these tubes attached to connect the wiring to the bulb. This is usually seen on floor lamps rather than table lamps.
The switch is arguably the most important part of the lamp. The switch will be integrated into your lamp, either on a separate wire or directly onto the lamp.
Sometimes, the switch can be attached separately to a nearby wall. All lamps require a switch, and without one, you’ll be unable to turn your light source on.
Switches will look different on all lamps and can either be switches, rockers or push buttons You may also find more complex switches such as dimmers, which instead of a simple on/off function, can be used to control the harshness of the lamps output. Some dimmer switches are integrated into the lamp’s base and will require a simple touch to activate them.
This brings us to the lamp base, which offers support for the lamp. The lamp base is the foundation of the lamp, and it can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, wood, metal, or ceramic.
A lamp’s base is often completely solid, however, some may have more intricate mechanisms to increase their appeal and functionality.
Like all other electrical devices, your lamp will also come with a plug. The plug provides the electrical supply to your lamp, and it’s attached to a medium-length cord that will fit into an external electrical outlet.
The plug is what delivers electricity to your lampshade, and it will need to be plugged in for your lamp to work. Some lamps may have their plug fittings attached to the ceiling or a wall.
Now, we have the lamp body. The lamp body is usually found in the middle or near the bottom of the lamp. The body is one of the most essential features of a decorative lamp, and it’s often the main feature that brings together the overall design.
To secure your table or floor lamp, your lamp base will also be coated in an anti-slip material, usually felt. Some anti-slip bases may also be made from rubber to stop them from slipping off the surface.
What Is The Anatomy Of A Desk Lamp?
We’ve discussed the anatomy of floor lamps and table lamps, but what about desk lamps? Desk lamps look slightly different from our other lamps, and they usually have a slightly different cap and bridle.
Desk lamps also serve a different purpose: while table lamps and floor lamps light up a whole room, desk lamps are used to illuminate just one corner of a room like a spotlight, which is what makes them a popular choice for people with studies. Although they have most of the same anatomical features, some things are different, including:
The shade cap is a thin piece of material on top of the lampshade, and it’s used to connect the lamp holder or light socket to the arms.
Earlier we mentioned the bridle. The bridle is the part of a lampshade that connects the components of the lamp to the arms and helps keep it in a sturdy, upright position.
A desk lamp will also have elbow joints. These components are used to connect arms of the lamp together, while still facilitating movement so that you can adjust the height of the lamp.
Your lamp will also feature a linkage bar, which can be found between the two arms of your lamp. These bars exist to secure your arms and ensure they don’t shift from their position.
Spring And Spring Bar
You’ll also find a spring and a spring bar (see also “Best Coffee Bar Ideas & Stations“). The spring and the spring bar attach the bottom arms to the bar which allows you to adjust them whenever you need to move the height (see also “Standard Height – Bar Vs Counter“).
Although these are the most common lamps on the market, you may also find other types of lamps such as:
- Wall lamps
- Oil lamps
Wall lamps have many of the same components as the lamps above (although many will be hidden in the wall), but oil lamps are vastly different.
Oil lamps do not rely on electrical wiring, and they’ll contain many individual components such as glass shades, chimneys, oil caps, burners, wick knobs, and more.
Although they’re aesthetically pleasing, oil lamps can be a significant fire hazard compared to standard lamps. Never leave them unattended.
And there you have it – your standard floor, table or desk lamp may actually be more complicated than you first thought. Lamps require multiple components to make them work, and if just one component fails, your whole lamp can stop working.
We hope this post has helped you to familiarize yourself with the anatomy of a lamp. If something goes wrong – you’ll know now exactly which part is at fault, and what to ask for if it needs replacing!
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