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  • Shedding Some Light on Your Work: Vanquishing Those Dastardly, Dark Corners

    Flowers and Profits®

    Have you ever visited a dentist whose examination room was poorly lit? What about an artist's studio — have you ever seen one bathed in shadow? So, why is your design room lit by one fluorescent ceiling light? What's your reason for planting your computer and monitor beside a sunlit window? If the fear of spending too much money has stifled you, then you'll be pleased to know that providing superb task lighting — light specific to work areas — can be fairly inexpensive.

    While lighting work areas and design rooms has traditionally meant flooding them with fluorescent light, you sacrifice control and color accuracy. A better design of task lighting uses less illumination, carefully distributed and controlled. New office installations, for example, are decreasing average lighting levels by 60 percent and adding task lighting. Even the common table lamp is regaining popularity.

    The Design Area

    Lighting the design room is crucial, but often overlooked. Just think how many hours you or your designers spend at that table. If the area is poorly lit so that you're squinting through shadows and guessing at true colors, you're not only making the job more tedious, you're ruining your eyes.

    The light sources you choose for your design area will determine how the colors of flowers, containers, ribbons and other items are perceived. Care must be taken not to distort the true color of merchandise.

    Design room lights can assume many forms, including mounting options, shielding and lamp type. Fluorescent lamps have high color rendition, cool operation, longer life and higher lumen output, but a better choice would be incandescent and halogen incandescent lamps. They produce the most true color rendition, which is what you want for your designers. Tradeoffs with this type of lamp are less energy efficiency and hotter surfaces.

    Another type of lighting to consider for the design or workroom is fluorescent task lamps (compact twin-tube and quad-tube, circline, and T5 linear and long twin-tube) that emit light from the entire lamp tube, resulting in a more diffuse light pattern. They cost more and color accuracy isn't as sharp. However, they are less expensive in the long run because they use one-third of the energy and last longer than incandescent lamps.

    Dimming controls can add to the life of the lights and give users more options. Sensors are available also that automatically turn off lights when a work area is vacant.

    Color Barriers or Boosters?

    Pay special attention to the color properties for each lamp used in your design room. Color rendition describes how natural a light source makes the color of an object appear. For example, lights with warm color temperature produce richer reds and oranges; cool lights highlight blues and greens, so select neutral light sources for your design room to enhance all colors equally.

    Measured on the Color Rendering Index (CRI) ranging from 0 to 100, incandescent lamps have a CRI rating of 100. The higher the CRI rating, the better the lamp's color rendering ability. CRI ratings of 80 or higher are considered good in that they make objects look natural.

    Florists usually require a spectrally balanced white light source of CRI 90 or better. A high CRI can also correct the color for warm and cool color temperature sources. For example, if you choose a lamp having a cool color temperature that enhances blues and greens, a higher CRI rating for that lamp will rescue the reds, yellow and oranges from distortion and darkening.

    Illuminating Office Space

    When shedding better light in your office area, location of a fixture is key. At a desk, try mounting a single fixture opposite the side of the writing hand to prevent casting a shadow. Mounting two task lights on either side of a desk or table will eliminate shadow problems.

    Adjustable arm task lighting offers additional flexibility. These styles range in length from 15 to 30 inches. Mounting options include table clamps, wall brackets, freestanding table braces and panel brackets that lock into open office furniture systems. Some adjustable lamps are equipped with louvers to diffuse light and help direct it to the area that needs illumination.

    It's best to avoid severe contrast between overall room lighting and task lighting. Because the eye's pupil dilates in low levels of light and constricts in bright light, a work area brightly lit in one area and darkly lit in others will cause eyestrain and fatigue.

    The color of surfaces in the work are also contributes to eyestrain. For example, if the walls are dark green and the work surface is white, each time the worker looks away from the task, the pupils must adjust.

    The Computer Workstation

    Improperly lit computer workstations can cause headaches and vision problems, even if you only spend an hour or two per day in front of the monitor. Make sure your computer workstation doesn't have these problems.

    • Glare: Computer monitors don't require additional illumination because they provide their own. In fact, one of the biggest problems found in a computer workstation are badly positioned light sources that create glare or compete with the monitor's own illumination.  Reflections of objects, shiny walls and any light source such as windows and overhead lighting can cause annoying glare. Adjust the monitor in a vertical position to prevent reflections from overhead lighting and avoid using antiglare screen devices because they compromise image quality. Your best bet is purchasing a monitor with a built-in low reflective screen.
    • Excessive Room Lighting: Room lighting should be relatively low. Fit windows with adjustable drapes or blinds and add task lighting to work surfaces.
    • Poor Image Quality: Make sure that the color schemes as well as the brightness and contrast controls are adjusted to a comfortable level on your monitor screen. Black text on a soft white or light gray background is easiest on the eyes. The image should be sharply focused and text large enough to see comfortably.
    • Improper Monitor Height: Adjust the height of the monitor so that the operator doesn't have to crane his or her neck to avoid glares. Looking up for prolonged periods of time is taxing and can produce muscle fatigue and headaches.

    Seeing the Light

    Providing better-than-adequate lighting schemes for your work areas is an excellent way to reduce eye fatigue and eliminate color distortion. With the vast array of lighting sources available, you can get started today on seeing better tomorrow.

     

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