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A torchère (// tor-SHAIR) (also variantly spelled: "torchèr", "torchière", "torchièr", "torchiere" & "torchier" with various and sundry interpretative pronunciations), or torch lamp, is a lamp with a tall stand of wood or metal. Originally, torchères were candelabra, usually with two or three lights. When it was first introduced in France towards the end of the 17th century the torchère mounted one candle only, and when the number was doubled or tripled the improvement was regarded almost as a revolution in the lighting of large rooms.
Today, torchère lamps use fluorescent or halogen light bulbs. Halogen torchères usually have a TRIAC dimmer circuit built into the stem. The same circuit will not work in a fluorescent torchère for the same reason that it will not work in other types of fluorescent applications: namely, because the pulsing will cause the arc in the fluorescent tube to become erratic. This is overcome by adjusting the pulse-width modulation in the electronic ballast instead; and most fluorescent torchères use this method.
Halogen torchères have been banned in some places, such as dormitories, because of the large numbers of fires they have caused. The torchère was held responsible by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for 100 fires and 10 deaths since 1992. Halogen bulbs operate at high temperatures and the tall height of the lamps brings them near flammable materials, such as curtains.
The International Phonetic Alphabet form of the American English (specifically either the General American [GA] or Standard American English [SAE] accents) pronunciation of torchère is: /ˌtɔr.ˈʃɛɹ/.
- "The Light Stuff," Popular Science, Oct 1997, p. 41.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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