Proper lighting is vital for working comfort. Excessive or inadequate lighting can cause eye-strain, fatigue, or worse. You unconsciously adjust your posture to compensate for improper lighting, which leads to more problems.
Computers create additional lighting complexities. Computer monitors work best with lower ambient light levels to prevent glare. But higher light levels are best for reading books and other documents. You often work simultaneously with paper documents and a monitor. The solution is to lower the overhead lights for the monitor and use a Task Light.
The Task Light should be directed on the paper documents and away from the monitor. Flexible positioning distinguish the best Task Lights. Think about where you plan to set your light. You may not want the lamp base sitting in the middle of your work surface. Measure the distance from the lamp base to where you need the light. Task Lights usually refer to this as “reach”. Other important Task Light adjustments are rotation of the head and arm(s).
WorksInComfort only sells Task Lights that use LEDs (light-emitting diode). LEDs have numerous advantages over both incandescent and fluorescent lights including energy efficiency, longer lifetime, more easily dimmable, and directionality.
LEDs produce light that is well-suited to Task Lights. There are several ways to measure the quality of the light = color temperature, color rendering index, light output, and illuminance. These may be unfamiliar terms, but are important to understand when selecting a Task Light.
- Color temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin. Incandescent bulbs produce a “warm” yellowish light with a color of about 3000 Kelvin. A cloudy day has a “cooler” blue-white light of about 6000 Kelvin.
- Color rendering index (CRI) measures how realistic colors appear compared to an ideal light source. The maximum CRI value is 100. The lower the CRI, the more unnatural colors appear relative to each other. Photos of people taken under fluorescent lighting often have odd skin color. This is because typical fluorescent lights have a CRI from 50 to 70.
- Light output is the amount of light emitted. This is usually measured in lumens. This seems like an important value, but things aren’t so simple. What you really care about is illuminance on your documents at a typical distance from the light. The conversion from light output to illuminance is complicated by reflectors, lenses, and other elements of the lamp design.
- Illuminance is the amount of visible light per unit area. This is measured at a specified distance from the light, in units of lux (= lumens per square meter) or foot-candles. Higher values mean a brighter work area. For Task Lights, illuminance is more meaningful than light output. WorksInComfort has attempted to gather illuminance values for all of our Task Lights at 15" or 18", which are typical distances. Below are illuminance recommendations by lighting designers.
- General Office Environment 300 – 500 lux
- Computer work 300 – 500 lux
- Casual Reading 300 – 500 lux
- Intensive Reading 500 – 1200 lux
- High Detail Work 1000 – 2000 lux
Important considerations when selecting a Task Light:
- Reach - measure from your base position to your documents
- Rotation - allows you to direct the light on your documents and away from the monitor
- Illuminance - higher values are needed for more detailed work
- Color temperature
- Color rendering index
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