Commercial light fixtures were just oval shaped and orange colored incandescent lamps some hundreds of years ago. However, as technology advanced through time, there evolved a huge variety of designs that can enhance any interior or exterior structure. At present, incandescent lights are usually used in residential lighting, but there are commercial fixtures that use the technology as well. Because of their ability to give off warm colors without the need for ballast, they are ideal for commercial applications. Also, the wide variety of bulb design make them well suited for commercial lighting design and accent lighting. However, since they have short useful lives, incandescent lights are mainly used for decorative purposes.

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Just like other popular items, there are also trends in commercial light fixtures. Because of the high demand on architectural design at present, manufacturers of commercial light bulbs give more attention to aesthetics. This resulted to unique lighting designs that adorn commercial offices, buildings, and commercial spaces.

The most common type is the fluorescent light, which is also used for residential application. Fluorescent became popular because it uses less electricity compared to other kinds of commercial lighting. In spite of this fact, they are able to produce light that is very bright and is distributed evenly, which makes them highly recommended for commercial establishments.

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Light is produced by fluorescent lamps through the activation of phosphors found on the bulb interior, with the use of ultraviolet energy that comes from a mercury arc. Ballast is needed to start and keep the lamp burning by keeping electrons flowing in the gaseous arc. The trend for fluorescent fixtures has created more compact designs that produce light on less energy. These commercial light fixtures are best used in loading docks, under building eaves or as warehouse or store lights.

There are also High Intensity Discharge or HID commercial outdoor lighting fixtures. HID technology produces light through gaseous arc discharge with the use of various elements, which include metal halide, high-pressure sodium and mercury vapor. At least one of these elements is inside an HID lamp. When electricity passes through both ends of the tube, it creates an arc that emits visible light.

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Of all the commercial lighting fixtures, HID lamps produce the best lumens per watt output and the level of lighting can be controlled better. They also have longer useful lives than other types of commercial lighting, so they are ideal for businesses that have tight budgets and cannot afford to have frequent equipment changes.

Another kind of commercial lighting fixture is the mercury vapor lamp, which is actually the first HID developed for commercial purposes. At present, they are extensively utilized for landscape lighting requirements.

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Mercury vapor lamps have good useful lives with high watt fixtures averaging 24,000 hours. However, because the light output of a mercury vapor lamp decreases through time, its economic operation is usually shorter. Just like the other HID commercial light fixtures, mercury vapor lamps start slowly, taking from four to seven minutes to achieve its maximum light output depending on ambient temperature.