We are working in the home office or have small dedicated office space or desk that we need to take care of the lightings for our well-being and productivity. There are lots of fancy ads for companies about their lighting. LEDs are top highest- on how good, economic, healthy and energy-efficient.
So, which one- an incandescent, LED or CFL- is best for your small/home office?
None of the lighting options is good for your workspace, and my answer is that the best light for the small/home office is daylight.
Whilst, you have to supplement the daylight with one of the artificial lightings that suit best for your office needs.
That said, there are some important details and information you should be aware of. You will get the point why I suggest the natural light from a health and well-being and productivity standpoint.
What is Daylight?
- colour temperature (CT) of 2,700-3,00K is ‘Soft white’ and it is warm and yellow which you usually get from incandescent bulbs. It is best for living rooms and bedrooms.
- The CT from 3,000 to 4,000K is ‘Warm white’- which is a more yellowish white- and best suited for kitchens and bathrooms.
- The ‘Bright White’ has the CT from 4,000 to 5,000 and has white and blue tones. It has said that it is best for workspaces (also in garage and kitchen with chrome fixtures)- however, I will have a more in-depth discussion in the LEDs subtitles.
What to consider for in artificial light for a good working place
Why the incandescent and fluorescents are not the best options
LED Watts (Viribright)
|400 – 500||6 – 7W||8 – 12W||40W|
|650 – 850||7 – 10W||13 – 18W||60W|
|1000 – 1400||12 – 13W||18 – 22W||75W|
|1450-1700+||14 – 20W||23 – 30W||100W|
|2700+||25 – 28W||30 – 55W||150W|
Note; 1 Lumen= 1 lux * Sqm (1 LUX = 1 Lumen / m2) The bigger the room, the more you will need to create the right light levels.
The Best Alternatives for Artificial Lights for Your Office
Incandescent Warm Lights; They are the cheapest alternative for traditional incandescent light bulbs.
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs); They are more energy-efficient than incandescent but less than LEDs. We can call them as the mini version of Standard Fluorescent lights, however, they still contain mercury which is a problem of disposal. The levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation they can emit may still be high.
Full Spectrum Lighting; They simulate natural sunlight and provide a balance of brightness and contrast. It is a source of light from infrared to near-ultraviolet or all wavelengths that are useful to plant or animal life.
Halogens; “also known as a tungsten halogen, quartz-halogen or quartz iodine lamp is an incandescent lamp consisting of a tungsten filament sealed into a compact transparent envelope that is filled with a mixture of inert gas and a small amount of a halogen such as iodine or bromine.” (wiki)
Light Emitting Diode (LEDs); They have efficient use of energy and longer life span- which is approximately 50 times longer than the traditional incandescent light bulbs. They have zero wait time to light up with their fast activation. Their price is higher than the other alternatives, but you can read the calculations on how you save money in the long term/run.
Do LEDs innocent/best as you think?
– Why the LEDs are also not the best options?
However, this is where you have to question whether LEDs are OK for your workplace and your well-being. You need to be aware of certain/recent/important facts about Led lightings. They contain lead and nickel above the accepted standard amounts.
It has said that: “Besides the lead and nickel, the bulbs and their associated parts were also found to contain arsenic, copper, and other metals that have been linked to different cancers, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, skin rashes and other illnesses in humans, and to ecological damage in waterways.” It has not been aware yet, but their disposal did with care like CFLs.
– Blue Light Toxicity
The first issue relates closely to my information at the beginning of my article about the colour temperature. The LED lights having short wavelengths produce ‘blue’ colour which leads ‘Blue Light Toxicity’, whilst modern LEDs have reduced blueish.
Blue enriched light stimulates the brain that it improves the alertness performance- which is helpful in the middle of the day. It is almost the same similar blue light in the sunlight that we see during the day. So while they’re really effective when it comes to using energy, they’re not as innocent to your well-being while working at night in your home office.
The biological clock that tells you for sleeping time- ‘Circadian Rhythm’ is damaged with this blueish colour should be overexposed to it, which we are damaged to the same toxicity from our mobile phones as well.
As it was pointed by a Professor, in the School of Medicine at the University of Connecticut that; the scientific experiments have proved that “LED lights are five times more effective at suppressing melatonin- which is an antioxidant and fighter of cancer- at night than the old-traditional street lights we used to have for long years.
The melatonin suppression is the main cause of the circadian suppression” There is also a correlation with blue light and eye-related damages, such as Macular Degeneration (AMD) which causes vision loss at the elder ages.
It has also proved the “phototoxic effects” of short-term exposures to high-intensity blue light. (if the wavelengths are below 455 nanometres and the intensity is quite high according to Lead author Gianluca Tosini, professor and chief scientific research officer at Atlanta’s Morehouse School of Medicine).
Much worse article published by CNN wrote that the recent findings of Environmental Health Perspectives, that “outdoor LEDs, smartphones and tablets may increase your risk of breast or prostate cancer, a new study suggests.”
“The researchers found that those exposed to high levels of outdoor blue light at night had around a 1.5-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer and a twofold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, compared with those who were less exposed.
Men exposed to high levels of indoor artificial light also had 2.8-fold higher risk of developing prostate cancer, according to the study.”
“But exposure to other kinds of outdoor artificial light – such as those that are high in the red and green portions of the visible spectrum – was not positively associated with the development of either type of cancer, the study states.” Source: Flos
Space Planning for Office Lighting
To sum up, let’s talk about the design and space planning of your office since you know all the technical details of the lights. There are two types of light for the plan of your office lighting.
- Ambient light
- Task light
When you are working you have enough ambient and task lights to overcome the brightness of your computer screen. The following basic guides are the basic principles to work well at home;
- When you are working at home or hot-desk, be careful to have a glare-free ambient light at least half-bright of light from your computer.
- The best location of your computer and its desk is either left or right side of your desk depending on which hand you are using for writing. If you are a right-hand writer, it may be a good idea to place your computer desk on the left side of window-if possible, so that when writing on paper &/or working at your computer the shadows don’t overcast on your medium.
- Avoid working fluorescent lights. Replace them with CFLs or LEDs or warm incandescent and add task lights such as desk or floor lights. Choose the ones with adjustable options.
- Do not place your table as a window situated behind it or in front of a window. In this way, the glazing is the maximum.
- Use blinds/ curtains/ to adjust/control daylight while you are working.
- All the lightings/bulbs should have the same colour temperature
- The colour temperature of your light bulbs should complement the interior colour scheme. While the cool white lamps enhance blues and greens, the warm white lamps boost yellows and reds.