Best writing desk lamps and best reading lamps for your home office
When it comes to providing task lights for your writer’s desk, there are many choices for the best desk lamp. Choosing the best desk lamp comes down to personal choices such as style, work requirements, and even budget.
Read on to shed some light on choosing the right desk lamp.
But first, let’s look at what we expect our lighting to do these days. Once upon a time, writers working after dark had to scratch out their words by candlelight or a smoky lamp, perhaps fueled by whale oil or kerosene.
It wasn’t easy, but it didn’t stop Shakespeare or Cervantes, did it?
Cumbersome as that lighting could be, it was a vast improvement over the days when the likes of Irish monks often worked outdoors when copying texts or creating amazing art such as the Book of Kells. Windows were few and candles made from beeswax or tallow that burned with a clear, smokeless light, were reserved for the wealthy. After all, experts say that in colonial times a single beeswax candle would have cost the average worker about half a day’s wages.
More than a century ago, the arrival of electric lighting for the masses extended the workday and gave us a myriad of choices.
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Nowadays, our task lighting does not need to light up much more than a small pool of light for our desktop. After all, our laptops provide their own lighting. But that doesn’t mean we can’t choose lamps with function as well as style.
First, assess your needs to find the best desk lamp.
Are you looking to create that small pool of light for a corner desk, or to truly light up the night? Desk lamps can add the aura of a library filled with cigar smoke or something more whimsical, to say the least. Even the best desk lamps are unlikely to bust the budget. Many good lamps that will last for years are available for less than what that single candle would have cost someone in the colonial era.
Time for an upgrade?
Many people have found themselves working at home during the pandemic, perhaps turning a corner of the dining room or spare bedroom into an office. The furniture may have been pressed into service out of equal necessity. Hey, you knew there was a reason you were saving that old chair with the duct tape on it! If you are still using the desk light from your college dorm room, it’s time to light things up like a grownup.
Consider you off-duty hours. You can’t work all the time! After all, a writer needs time to recharge and rejuvenate.
For those times, you may also want a good reading light for curling up in comfy chair to edit manuscripts or to read a favorite book.
Other choices could include a small lamp for reading in bed without disturbing a partner, for when you just have to read “one more chapter” into the wee hours.
Adding some light to the subject:
Our needs for the actual brightness of a reading light increase with age, according to an article in The New York Times. A kid can read just fine by the light of a traditional 40-watt lamp or less. Middle-aged eyes will need around 100 watts to read as effectively, the article stated.
Measuring light output by wattage isn’t as useful anymore with so many lighting options. Instead, light is more effectively measured in lumens.
According to energy.gov, “Lumens are to light was pounds are to bananas and gallons are to milk.” Using the current standard, the kid reading by the dim bulb needed just 450 lumens, while his parents might see better using 1600 lumens. Generally, a dedicated reading lamp should generate at least 800 lumens (the equivalent of a 60-watt bulb), while a desktop task lamp or bedside lamp can generate a smaller, but effective pool of light.
If you want to dive deep into understanding lumens and selecting lightbulbs, here’s a video courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.
The spectrum of light you choose can also be a factor. If you find it hard to wind down and go to sleep, some of the blame may fall to the lighting itself.
According to none other authority than the CDC, there is some science behind how various kinds of light affect us—particularly our mood and ability to sleep. CDC experts say that white light has a positive impact in its ability to boost mood and overall alertness.
Likewise, yellow and orange light won’t keep you up past your bedtime, so dim lights in these tones can make good reading lamps.
The light to be avoided is so-called “blue light,” generated by fluorescent lights, LED lights, and the backlighting from electronic devices. Exposure to this light at bedtime can actually keep you awake. Sources for blue light can include television screens, computers and tablets, and your phone. If you are having trouble winding down at bedtime, experts recommend putting away the electronic toys. Instead, grab a book, write in a journal, or use a Kindle device that emits only a low level of the troublesome blue light spectrum.
Still in the dark?
Here are some choices that we like for providing lighting that is both useful and stylish.
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