What is Radiant Lighting?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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Radiant lighting is a general descriptor for lighting systems in a home or other building. Since the word “radiant” applies to any emission of electromagnetic or similar elements, all lighting is by definition radiant. Some lighting systems may be described as radiant lighting, however, if they illuminate spaces in certain ways. For example, recessed cabinet or spot lighting may be marketed as radiant lighting. Some new lighting technologies may also make use of the term depending on how light is distributed in a home or interior.

Along with the idea of radiant lighting, where light gets radiated from a specific source, builders and others make use of a similar term for heating technologies. Radiant heating systems use heat in the same basic ways that light sources provide light. In radiant heating systems, the heat is generated from one object to another, rather than being blown through the air is what professionals call “forced air systems.”

A further definition of radiant lighting addresses the way that traditional incandescent bulbs generate heat and light together. These lights have BTU or British Thermal Unit measurements defining how much heat is generated by the light bulb. While a traditional home light bulb does not effectively heat interior spaces, it does give off enough heat to burn the skin on contact, and also contributes to significant fire risk.


In contrast to these light-and-heat radiating bulbs, newer technologies like CFL, or vapor bulbs, save energy by radiating light without a large amount of heat. There are rumors within the industry that some national governments are contemplating the phasing out of traditional incandescent bulbs to make way for newer technologies. Additional lighting technology that represents modern progress in energy savings is LED light.

LED lights make use of electricity in a specific way to generate light without a major amount of heat. Unlike traditional light bulbs, LED lights can be embedded in a variety of home installations and put against other materials without significant fire risk. LED lights can also save a lot of energy over the long term. The term “radiant lighting” sometimes gets applied to this and other modern technologies that have a lot of potential for changing the way that buildings and other spaces get lit.


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