Having appropriate lighting in our room is important. Artificial lighting is a key component to this since we can’t always rely on natural life. Many of you already know that artificial lighting has some negative attributes. But what are these pros and cons of artificial light? Plus is it really all that bad? Let’s dive right in to see!
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Pros and cons of artificial light
Below is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of working around artificial light:
Advantages of artificial light
- Artificial light increases the safety levels
- Artificial light is easier to control than natural light
- Artificial light can increase alertness
- Artificial light brightens up a room
- Artificial light can set the mood and room theme
- Artificial light can decorate a room in numerous ways
Disadvantages of artificial light
- Can cause glare, especially on screens
- Bulbs can be expensive
- Artificial light can increase eye strain
- Artificial light leads to more headaches
- Artificial light offers no exposure to vitamin D
- Artificial light can reduce sleep quality
- Artificial light increases lighting costs
- Artificial lights are less environmentally friendly
It may not have dawned on you that there are so many advantages and disadvantages to working in artificial light. With that being the case, let’s delve deeper and see what benefits we can reap from working in direct sunlight. More importantly, what precautions do we need to take to protect ourselves if we are working in synthetic light?
A study has shown that working in an office with natural lighting can decrease eyestrain by 51% and improves your quality of sleep. Source
Advantages of artificial light
Artificial light increases the safety levels
While safety tends to be more of a prominent feature outdoors at nighttime, it is also extremely applicable to indoor settings regardless of the activities that you are performing.
One of the fundamental reasons that we use light is to ensure that we can see what we are doing and where we are going without injuring ourselves.
Legislation even provides guidelines for the recommended lighting levels in offices and workplaces.
Artificial light provides increased security
A function that goes hand in hand with safety is security. Having appropriate lighting levels is important to increase the security control of a room, building or grounds.
We are all aware of security lights that can detect movement and act as a deterrent to intruders entering an area.
This could not be achieved without artificial lighting.
The lengths to which businesses go to provide adequate lighting levels is phenomenal, especially in places where the security level is high for the area.
Artificial light is easier to control than natural light
Unlike natural light, which blasts straight into your room, artificial light can be much easier to control.
From choosing whether it’s direct or indirect light to having dimmer switches to choosing where the light is located.
Even on a more basic level, merely choosing whether the light is turned on or off is a feature of artificial lighting.
Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted how much we rely on artificial lighting.
There are endless features that are controllable with artificial light.
This makes it much easier to manage and control the lighting levels that are provided in your home or office.
Artificial light can increase alertness
Exposure to blue light is a particularly effective way to wake the body up. Ideally, exposure to light is important in the morning and natural daylight is the best source of this.
The best way to receive exposure to sunlight is to open the curtains.
However, looking at your phone or whatever device can also achieve this alertness effect.
Another study has suggested that exposure to blue light for over an hour allows you to perform better on reaction tests than three cups of coffee.
While blue light is typically synonymous with mobile phones and devices, some blue light gets emitted from nearly all artificial lights.
Tip: If you do not have exposure to sunlight in your home or work area, take regular breaks to expose yourself to artificial light.
Artificial light brightens up a room
Having natural light entering a room is something that many of us take for granted. Unfortunately, we cannot rely at on it at all times.
Natural lighting levels are particularly limited during winter season when the mornings are dark, and the evenings get dark earlier as well.
Here is when we truly rely on artificial light.
However, even if there is a natural life entering a room, it may not be sufficient to provide the necessary amount of light.
The recommended lighting levels in an office are 500 lumens per square foot.
Artificial lighting can supplement natural light entering a room to provide the necessary amount of illumination.
Artificial light can set the mood and room theme
The type of mood lighting that you want in your home or office can vary depending on the type of activities and work that you are performing. Artificial light contributes greatly to the mood and even the theme of the room.
For instance, to instill a constructive mood within an environment, the best light for productivity is either white light or cooler blue light.
However, for a warmer and inviting atmosphere, yellow or orange lights will achieve this mood.
Artificial light can decorate a room in numerous ways
Natural light is rather limited in terms of how it can decorate a room. It merely beams in the window and shines on certain parts of the room.
However, with artificial lighting, you can choose from a wide array of bulbs, colors and even lighting effects to decorate the room.
So, whether you’re decorating your room with lights for Christmas or you’re trying to create a modern backdrop for shooting videos. Maybe you’re designing a comfortable and cozy atmosphere, or perhaps you want to instill a corporate feel to your home or office.
Either way, the type of lighting that you choose will be paramount to executing the desired effect.
Disadvantages of artificial light
Can cause glare, especially on screens
Despite it being much easier to control than natural light, artificial lighting can still lead to glare. This is particularly true if the lighting is positioned directly behind your computer screens or devices.
Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to control the level of light within the room.
You can position the lights in such a way that they’re slightly forward or to the side of your screen.
Also, you can adjust your screen in a way to prevent the glare from the light causing a disturbance.
Bulbs can be expensive
Regardless of what type of light bulb that you opt for, artificial light is going to always be more expensive than natural light.
LED light bulbs tend to be more expensive than other types of bulbs.
That said, the fortunate consideration for this cost is the fact that they have a longer lifespan.
LED light bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours which is equivalent to 11 years if used 12 hours a day!
Thankfully, most rooms and offices are exposed to natural light which can be leveraged to help minimize the cost of lighting.
Furthermore, studies are placing more emphasis on recommending that natural lighting is available.
This is not only to brighten up a room, but also to promote the well being of people.
Studies are increasingly showing that exposure to natural light it has many benefits including improved mood and productivity.
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Artificial light can increase eye strain
When compared to natural light, artificial lighting tends to increase strain on the eyes.
Fluorescent lights and LED lights are commonly associated with causing eye strain.
From flickering lights to emitting blue light, both are rather harmful for your eyes and can impact negatively on the retina.
While you may not be able to perceive the flicker, it can unknowingly be irritating your eyes.
Flickering is especially common in LED and fluorescent bulbs.
On the other hand, fluorescent bulbs are also prone to flickering and are known to increase exposure to UV light which can exceed radiation levels.
Fortunately, by keeping lamps with UV light more than 30 centimeters away, this minimizes the risk.
Artificial light leads to more headaches
One case study by Dr. Alan Hedge demonstrated the impact of daylight in the workplace. Two groups of staff were compared.
Workers from a room with natural lighting in the room with another cohort of workers with no natural lighting in their room were asked to provide feedback and how it affected them.
63% of workers surveyed experienced fewer headaches when they were working in environments where there was natural lighting.
The study suggested that exposure to better daylight can lead to fewer headaches and eyestrain.
Tip: By turning off the lights for period of time while the sunlight is lighting up the room, this allows your eyes a break from the synthetic light.
Artificial light offers no exposure to vitamin D
Vitamin D is commonly known as the sunshine vitamin. This is because your body can absorb vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
This might be achievable when working in a room when you have direct exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D absorption is not possible when you’re working in a room that is lit by artificial light.
In addition, you cannot absorb vitamin D through a window, it needs to be direct sun exposure.
So, if you think that sitting by a window will elevate your vitamin levels, think again!
Fortunately, an easy tip to increase your exposure to Vitamin D is by taking some time each day to get out into the fresh air.
This will help to increase your intake, especially when the sun is shining.
Alternatively, another hack is to open the window so that the suns shines directly in on you.
Artificial light can reduce sleep quality
Artificial light has been shown to negatively affect our sleep since it suppresses melatonin.
Cortisol is a hormone responsible for waking us up while melatonin is a hormone responsible for helping us to fall to sleep.
When we are exposed to blue light, melatonin production is suppressed. Instead, the cortisol hormone is produced.
Therefore, using devices and lighting which contains blue light makes it more difficult to sleep.
In a study which compared sleep quality of workers exposed to natural light and workers who had no exposure to natural light, staff who were exposed to artificial light:
- experienced poorer quality of sleep
- slept for approximately 46 minutes less than those exposed to natural light during work
Artificial light increases lighting costs
Natural light is free, but we cannot always rely on it to light up a room. The cost of using artificial lights will add up over time, but is it expensive?
The cost of using an LED bulb for 24 hours a day over a year equates to an average of $6.30.
That’s a rather low cost, especially when compared to $47.30 for an incandescent bulb used for the same length of time.
If your room has this exposure to natural light, there will be times when you barely need to have a light turned on at all.
This is evident most commonly in south facing rooms as well as west and east facing rooms.
Rooms with north facing windows don’t tend to receive as much sunlight has the south facing room.
Artificial lights are less environmentally friendly
As you already probably know, artificial light is less environmentally friendly than natural light. However, many people fail to realize that there is also carbon impact to using natural light.
From manufacturing of a light bulb to transporting it to a shop to transporting into your house.
Then using a light bulb and disposing of the light bulb as well.
The carbon impact of a bulb can be rather significant if you look at it from that angle.
Ideally, emphasis should be placed on trying to brighten up a room as much as possible with natural lighting.
If you are moving or building a new office or home, the natural lighting provided should be considered.
The advantages of working in artificial light have grown and they are more than merely adding light to a room. In fact, they are probably something that we take for granted.
Since we can’t live with artificial light, making smart choices about the type of lighting that is installed can help to mitigate the negative consequences and discomfort that it brings.
Unfortunately, there are some negative characteristics correlated to working in a room with artificial light.
Luckily, these challenges can be managed relatively easily.
Fortunately, most offices have a window. However, if you don’t have a window in your home office, you may start to feel the effects that artificial lighting can have on people.
Do you prefer working in artificial or natural light? Do you turn off lights while the sun is shining in? Is artificial light better than sunlight? Let me know in the comments below.