Courtney and I have had some fun this summer sprucing up the office a little bit! Here are a few photos of our projects.
Next, we gave the furniture a facelift. It was a nice little one-day project that turned into three...or four...
But with the office update, we are ready to tackle what's shaping up to be a busy fall.
While reading my latest issue of Natural Health Magazine, this quote from the back page caught my eye:
For many of us, Monday through Friday means slogging through traffic to sit for hours under soul-sucking fluorescents in back-breaking office chairs. But you can make your workdays healthier - mentally and physically - by making over your space with these tips.
"Oh boy!" I thought, "my magazine is going to address lighting quality. Yay!" But I went on to read suggestions that ranged from getting a fish tank or a potted plant to making ergonomic adjustments to the furniture and meditation to manage stress. No mention whatsoever of how to address the lighting quality problem. Even a paragraph about getting up and walking around only addressed the aspect of stretching. How about taking that walk outside to get exposure to sunlight? Or at least walking to a window for the emotional boost of the view?
If you find your fluorescent lighting to truly be soul-sucking, might I make a suggestion or two?
How about you? What have you done to take the "soul-sucking" out of your fluorescent office lighting?
Studies in Warm and Cool
Some encounters with color temperature. Where do you see color temperature differences in your world?
As a student at the University of Kansas I worked for the EADC - Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Center. This was a fantastic DOE-sponsored program (now called IAC) which employed college students to perform free energy audits of manufacturing plants and commercial office spaces and then provide them a report full of Energy Conservation Opportunities (ECOs.) One of our most common ECOs at that time was: replace existing T12 fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts with energy-saving T8 fluorescent lamps and new electronic ballasts. One of the added benefits of this upgrade was the elimination of "flicker." Though imperceptible to some, flicker can be quite problematic for sensitive individuals, causing headaches or even seizures. Flicker happens with the natural cycling of AC power, but with the higher frequency inherent in electronic ballasts, the fluorescent phosphors do not have time to dim, and therefore flicker is eliminated.
We had a handy tool that we could use to verify whether the existing ballasts were magnetic or electronic. It was a top, called a flicker checker. When you spin it under electronic ballasts, you see a series of concentric gray circles like in the first video below.
However, if the existing fixture had magnetic ballasts, the flicker checker displayed choppy squares instead of concentric circles, illustrated in the video below.
The thing is, this second video wasn't a top spinning under a fluorescent lamp with a magnetic ballast. It was spinning under a dimmed LED fixture! Once again we need to watch out for flicker in our lighting. The great news is that this time almost everyone is armed with their own personal flicker checker! No...maybe not a top. Pull out the camera on your phone and point it at the nearest LED source. If you see a series of bars or stripes on your display, the source is flickering. If not, then you have a high-quality LED with a compatible dimmer and/or driver.
Try it. Let us know what you find!
Do you enjoy what you do? Do you enjoy the space where you work? What is your favorite space in your home or office? Why? Does it have anything to do with the lighting in that space? Does your favorite location change from day to day or from hour to hour, depending on your task and the changing light in the space?
As an entrepreneur I find myself working in all kinds of spaces, in all kinds of light. I have noticed how much that light affects my mood, my productivity, and my level of alertness. I am thankful for the recent series of sunny days we have had in St. Louis - the June light has helped with my productivity! I am also thankful that I can spend time doing what I enjoy - lighting design!
"If you don't like what you're doing, then don't do it." ~ Ray Bradbury
"If you don't like what you're doing, try changing the light and see if that makes it any better." ~ Lisa Reed
Office Lighting Upgrade
Last week I installed a new light fixture in my office at Envision Lighting Design, LLC! I removed a two-lamp 4' T12 daylight fluorescent wraparound fixture with wooden endcaps, very 1985 top-of-the-line builder's grade. The new one is a Focal Point surface mounted 3' diameter Skydome with six 2' 3000K T5 fluorescent lamps. I have always loved the way these fixtures look like skylights when they are illuminated. It adds style to the space and offers a better quality of light. The other lights pictured are MusicLites from Sylvania. (They are LED replacements with an integral speaker. Using their universal adapter and wireless remote, I can stream Pandora from my computer through my lights while I work. Oh yeah. Novelty. Fun. Perhaps they flicker when dimmed, but I pretend not to notice because they are so much fun.)
The most difficult part of the Skydome installation was prying the fixture open before it was installed so that I could actually do the installation. It is an intentionally tight fit, and before the fixture is installed getting leverage is impossible. Finally after two days - and help from Nate, Todd, Darin, Tony, Paul, and Ivy - I was able to get my fingers far enough in between the lens housing and the gasket to pry the front from the back plate. Crazy! (I was going to include a picture of the crease in my finger after this success, but I will spare you.) How has an electrician ever done this on a job site? To their credit, Focal Point tells me they are now looking into ways of shipping the two pieces disengaged. Three cheers for a manufacturer who is always trying to improve their customers' experiences!!! All-in-all this was a challenge for me to install, but the rest of my challenges were almost certainly due to my lack of experience. I learned a little from the process and now I have better lighting in the office. That's a win! Here are some photos of the journey:
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC