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To Task Light or Not to Task Light

May 19th, 2017 by cassiel

Screen Time Is Soaring!

Between work, paying bills, shopping, and watching cat videos, the average American spends about 8 or more hours a day in front of a computer screen. If you add in phone activities like texting and Snapchat or maybe you are working on creating your perfect Bitmoji, screen time can soar.

Why is Task Lighting So Important?

So why is task lighting so important when most of our day is spent looking at a backlit screen? What most people don’t know, is that when switching from looking at your computer to jotting down a note, your eyes are constantly adjusting to the different light levels.

This constant adjusting can cause eye strain, which can result in dry eyes and/ or headaches. While a break from the computer screen every 20 minutes or so seems to help, what helps most is having consistent light levels while switching back and forth between computer and desktop tasks. By adding task lighting, whether it’s a desk task light or an under cabinet task light, it will provide the light needed to balance the light levels. It also allows for less dependency on ineffective overhead lights. Just reducing the overhead lighting from fluorescents to one and adding one task light, the savings are almost $600 per office and don’t forget about the reduction in eye strain and headaches.

Take A Look Inside
Now that the benefits of having a task light are so clear, what makes one task light better than another?

A task light is only as good as the light source inside. Today, LED task lights are taking over incandescent and fluorescent task lights for many reasons. Although high quality LEDs tend to be more expensive upfront, the cost savings from reduced energy use and not having to buy replacement bulbs will outweigh the initial cost. Another thing to be aware of when shopping for an LED desk task light that impacts overall cost, is the difference in the LEDs and the manufacturing process: Not all LEDs are Created Equal. Quality LEDs and fixtures, will save money over time, be more useful over a longer-life span, and be more reliable because they have a robust and proven manufacturing process.

The first step in attaining quality LED fixtures is the process of sorting the diodes, called binning. The tighter the binning the more consistent the color, intensity, and performance of the LEDs. Securing the LEDs to the circuit board is also critical for quality. This is achieved with a process called Surface Mount Technology (SMT). This process picks and places the diodes on the board. Both factors have high effects on the quality of the LEDs and performance of the fixture. Heat dissipation is also a factor for the life and performance of LEDS. LEDs do produce some heat even though it is much lower than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs, it is still important to control heat within the fixture and drive the LED at the right voltage to preserve the life of the LED. The last element in a good fixture is the lens. Optic lens design, when done correctly, can control the banding effect and disbursement of the light. Banding is a term that identifies the color striping that can occur on the outer edges of the light pool. LEDs, unlike traditional fluorescents and incandescent bulbs have directional light output, whereas the traditional sources emit light from all sides. Even though LEDs have no wasted light, a good lens design is required to help place the directional light where needed.

It’s Not All About The Cost Savings
Besides the cost savings and no wasted light, high quality LEDs have a life span of 50,000 + hours and are available in a range of color temperatures with the most popular between 3000 to 5000 Kelvin. Lighting temperature or light color is measured in Kelvin with a lower number representing warm white and a higher number representing cool white. Task lighting is recommended to be in the warm white (3000K-3500K) color temperature range with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) in the 80-90+ range. CRI is another measurement to be aware of. The higher the CRI (range: 0 to100), the closer the colors of objects are represented, as they would be in natural light.

What’s Your Workspace Type?
What makes a desk light a perfect choice for a workstation? Take into consideration the size of the desk space you are illuminating and the activities you will be performing. For a desk top that will be used for several different types of tasks, such as reading, writing, or computer work, a desk lamp with a pivoting post and head offers custom positioning for the perfect illumination. If the desktop is smaller and conserving space is a high priority, then an under cabinet or a clamp-on light might be the perfect choice to save on space without compromising lighting needs.

Now The Fun Starts!
After all the technical “stuff” is considered see what “bells and whistles” the light offers. Do you forget to turn off your light or like to have control of brightness levels, maybe both? Then look for a lamp that has an occupancy sensor that will turn off the light automatically when you leave your desk and/or dimming capabilities so you can adjust the light output based on other light sources, like the sun coming through the window. Some LED task lights even offer multiple Kelvin colors to allow you to adjust to a temperature that enhances your tasks.

The Decision Is Yours!
Although, the look of a desk task light may seem to be the most important factor, don’t overlook the lighting specifications; good performance and good light color can make or break a task light. The choice of a desk task light, like everything else, is a personal preference based on your needs; knowing what to look for can make the decision, To Task Light or Not To Task Light a lot easier.

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