The lightbulb in my head won't light up... because of my other lightbulb.
April 3, 2007 11:59 PM   Subscribe

College student looking for a really good studying/reading lamp. Preferably of the nice, bright "white" light variety rather than the eye-straining, weak "yellow" light. Any suggestions?

Currently, I study by the single bulb attached to my room fan. It's not as bright as I'd like it to be, and it's probably slowly ruining my eyesight. I just need a good study lamp. I'm willing to pay up to $100 - hey, a good study lamp is worth it. I could go to a library to get some decent studying done, but libraries tend to be closed at 3 am.

Previously, I had a little $8 incandescent/filament bulb lamp from Walmart, but that didn't quite cut it, either. My problem with incandescent bulbs is that they give off a weak, yellow light that tends to strain my eyes.

I had also envied a friend's fluorescent study lamp before, with two of those long, cylindrical fluorescent tubes. That one gave off a nice, bright, "white" light. Problem is, I've never come across such lamps in stores - or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. And it's not as simple as asking my friend where she got hers from and buying a similar one from there, because hers came from an 80's yard sale. I suppose I could steal it from her, but that might destroy our friendship, you know? ;)

I've also come across natural or simulated daylight lamps in stores, but I'm unsure as to whether or not they live up to the hype.

Any reviews, suggestions, or definite no-no's are appreciated!
posted by Xere to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I just started using a Verilux desk lamp as illumination for my piano's music stand. $75, more or less, from The light is clean, white...simply stunning. The power switch has two settings---half power or full. It really ups the contrast ratio on the page, which makes my mid-40s eyes very happy. My only (minor) complaint is that I wish the base was more heavily weighted.
posted by DawnSimulator at 12:40 AM on April 4, 2007

I work in an office and sit in front of a computer all day and from my personal experience, I really really hate the fluorescent lights in the office. They strain my eyes and give me headaches. However, I tare at a computer all day, maybe they are good for reading books.

At any rate, before throwing down $100 for something you're not sure of, a cheap start would be to buy a normal lamp and experiment with different bulbs. For example, maybe an LED light, which Think Geek recommends for reading. Here's an interesting design developed by Nasa. I also like halogen lights but I haven't ever used them for studying or reading.
posted by like_neon at 1:21 AM on April 4, 2007

Currently, I study by the single bulb attached to my room fan. It's not as bright as I'd like it to be, and it's probably slowly ruining my eyesight

Have you tried replacing this bulb? Maybe going to a 100W bulb or something like a GE Reveal? I have a similar fan/light set up in my home office, where I use the computer and read, and the GE Reveal has been an improvement for me.
posted by mullacc at 1:53 AM on April 4, 2007

I think I can help with this question. I've been on a personal vendetta lately. A vendetta against harsh, yellow light bulbs. I'm slowly replacing all of my bulbs with nice, white fluorescent ones.

Go to Home Depot, or Lowe's, or whatever hardware store is nearby. Go to the lighting section, where the "compact fluorescent" bulbs are. Get yourself a compact fluorescent bulb that's at least 23 watts (100 watt incandescent equivalent). Obviously, more wattage will use more electricity and produce brighter light.

Here's the catch - the packaging must display the color temperature. This is what determines what "color" your bulb displays - yellow to white, or in between. You will want a bulb that generates a color temperature of 5500 kelvin or above. This will be a nice, clean, comfortable white light. Sometimes the light from these bulbs are described as "daylight," but I wouldn't buy unless it explicitly says 5500 kelvin or higher. Many packages will not tell you the color temperature, because they want you to buy their crappy bulbs.

The only problem is that you might not get as much light as you would like. The upside to trying this out is that it will only cost you the price of one bulb - which should be less than $10.
posted by gaiamark at 3:24 AM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck with halogen lamps, but the best ones generate a fair amount of heat, along with the excellent, broad spectrum light they generate. If this is acceptable to you, look at products from SoLux - they are used as reading lamps in the Library of Congress reading rooms.

I also gave a friend who is a bed reader and a knitter a floor version of this lamp, and she really loves it. You might do well with a cheaper desk version.
posted by paulsc at 4:15 AM on April 4, 2007

I swear by my Antifoni, $25 from your local Ikea. It has great swivel and reach, is relatively inexpensive, and has a really nice bright white halogen light.
posted by The Michael The at 4:52 AM on April 4, 2007

I was given an Ott Lite desk lamp which works very well for reading / studying. It's a bit pricier than some other suggestions but worth looking into to.
posted by ahughey at 5:04 AM on April 4, 2007

If I'm thinking of the same 2-tube flourescent setup, you can go to any hardware store and ask for a flourescent shop lamp. They're usually 4 feet long (but you can get them in shorter varieties) and are a few bucks (this is what I was thinking of, but a whole lot cheaper). The key ingredient is to make sure that the bulbs you put in them are high quality and have a spectrum that tends more towards the blues (higher color temperature as mentioned in gaiamark's post).
posted by yellowbkpk at 5:40 AM on April 4, 2007

High quality = GE or Philips (Philips usually does better with flourescent bulbs)
posted by yellowbkpk at 5:41 AM on April 4, 2007

I've been using and loving a Flygel 50W halogen lamp ($16.99 from Ikea) for the past four or five years. I've not yet had to replace the bulb. I would recommend it over The Michael The's suggestion because a 50W halogen is noticeably brighter than a 35W (although the Antifoni looks to have a fancier arm). It also has a dual brightness switch, although I rarely use the lower setting.
posted by good in a vacuum at 6:58 AM on April 4, 2007

Seconding the GE Reveal bulbs. We replaced every single bulb in our house with these, even the expensive can lights. HUGE difference. Available at all Home Depot, Lowe's, etc., and sometimes the grocery store. Bulb looks light blue and gives off perfect light.
posted by orangemiles at 7:02 AM on April 4, 2007

Seconding the Ott Lite.
posted by kindall at 8:23 AM on April 4, 2007

second the ikea ANTIFONI ... I have it as a floor-standing version, which I think is 30 bucks more. pair this really bright lamp up with a regular incandescent light (you know, the normal yellow kind) and you should have a mix that will keep you comfortable for hours. make sure you have a great armchair. makes all the difference if you spend a lot of time in it.
posted by krautland at 8:46 AM on April 4, 2007

Seconding gaiamark's suggestion above to stick a bright (equivalent to 100w incandescent) compact fluorescent bulb in your room light fixture. I have a couple 13w Philips daylight bulbs in mine and I find it far superior to the two 60w incandescents I had before. You can also stick a compact fluorescent bulb (11 - 13w, equiv to 60w incandescent) in a cheapo desk/table lamp for bright white light on your work surface. Another nice thing about bendy desk lamps is that if you don't want it shining directly on your books/papers/whatever you can point it at a wall or something and it still makes quite a difference.

Also, Ott lights are really nice. My mother has a couple and really likes them, but I don't think you need to go that far to get good light to study by.
posted by benign at 12:00 PM on April 4, 2007

I have a different suggestion that works well for me. If you have white(ish) walls, then turn the lamp to face the wall. You want to get it so that you spread out the beam of the lamp onto the wall as much as possible. I find that it makes the light more natural.

Obviously, this doesn't work with the one attached to your fan, but maybe that $8 one will work better like that.
posted by djgh at 12:23 PM on April 4, 2007

Yeah, I hate my ceiling light. It's so dark that I almost always have two lights on while studying, or just my study lamp.

I don't think you have to go as far as 100$... if you have an Ikea anywhere nearby, go check out their lighting section. They have some pretty kickass bright, cheap lights. The one I currently use (as well as the one before that) were both from there...

This is the one I'm making do with now, since my old favourite died (after four or five years. something to do with the connection...), but I definitely have my eye set on this one, and slightly more expensively, this one.

Happy shopping! :D I love tinkering around with my workspace, seeing how I spend so much time there XD
posted by Phire at 3:12 PM on April 4, 2007

Not necessarily what you asked for, but I've used the "Itty Bitty Book Light" that clips onto the book. It's bright, directly illuminated whatever I was reading, and allowed me to read in bed while my wife slept undisturbed beside me.
posted by nevercalm at 10:53 AM on April 6, 2007

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