Light! More light!
June 17, 2009 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Help me light my office better! (constraints inside)

I work in a converted basement, which is very nice but which has no window. I currently use two 100W-equivalent energy-saving bulbs in uplighters and an anglepoise desk lamp containing an 11W energy-saving bulb (equivalent to a 60W normal bulb, I believe).

I work at the computer most of the day and I find I am getting some eyestrain and feel more tired at the end of the day than I used to. I think improved lighting might help. I have had an eye test recently, and found that my myopia prescription has worsened in the last few years. I think new glasses would help with the eyestrain but I would also like to improve the lighting in my office.

I have also been suffering from slightly low mood recently - nothing terrible, but bordering on mild depression, and I wonder if my generally low exposure to daylight has something to do with this.

So what should I be looking for? Daylight bulbs? How do I know if I've found a good one? What form of lighting is best for my situation (uplighting, direct, ??)? Bonus points if any products are available to buy online for delivery to the UK.

Further constraint - I can't fit anything to walls or ceiling, as the cellar is tanked to make it waterproof, so any solution needs to be free-standing. There are two halogen spots built in to the ceiling, which don't do much to illuminate my workspace.
posted by altolinguistic to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've found that my (perpetually dark) dorm room benefits from upward facing lamps. Sorry that's not very specific, I mostly stopped by to say:

put a potted plant or vase of flowers or bowl of fresh fruit on your desk. Helps me feel better when things are dark and dreary. Of course, I make no guarantees about those things helping your eyestrain.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 8:15 AM on June 17, 2009

I would make sure that all the energy saving bulbs have the same Kelvin temperature. These days, 5000K is used as "full spectrum" lighting, although it isn't. In flourescent light tubes, this is a nice color, but when iterated in the twist bulbs, it comes off harsh.

If I can find them, I prefer the 3500K twist bulbs because they give a warmer light. But having them all the same keeps the light from being jarring.
posted by Danf at 8:27 AM on June 17, 2009

A couple of 100w-equivalent uplighters may not be enough for general lighting. If the room still feels dim, you probably need more general lighting.

If your desk surface and/or the wall behind your computer screen is dark, your eyes may struggle with the contrast between the bright screen and dark surroundings. Try aiming some soft light at the wall see how that feels.

I'd also try a bigger bulb in the desk lamp, if it will fit. 11W CFLs are sometimes marketed as 60W-equivalent, but that's a bit optimistic. Consider that 15w fluorescents are also marketed as 60w equivalents, and they are (theoretically) 36% brighter than yours. Furthermore, reflectors that are designed for incandescent bulbs often work poorly with CFLs, wasting some of the light.

For the 'daylight' thing, if you want fluorescents then you need to look for bulbs with a high Color Resolution Index (CRI), preferrably over 90. These aren't too hard to find in 4' tubes, but high-CRI CFLs are kind of a specialty item, and may be a little expensive.

FWIW, 'daylight' means something quite different when you're talking about incandescent bulbs.
posted by jon1270 at 8:41 AM on June 17, 2009

You need a couple of these bad boys down there and get a brighter task light as well. I prefer halogen, but it consumes more juice.
posted by caddis at 10:17 AM on June 17, 2009

Get one or two of these. I have two in my office and usually only use one of them. Turn them both on and it's bright as day in here.
posted by mmoncur at 12:58 AM on June 18, 2009

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