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I'm preparing a room to work from home (behind a computer) and it doesn't have any windows, so no natural light :(

What kind of lighting should I use to create a nice working mood without straining sight?

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You might also want to use something like Redshift or f.lux. These little programs adjust the color temperature of your screen to the time of the day. Very comfortable on the eyes.

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+1 for f.lux. it does wonders on your eyes – Mihai Oprea Jan 23 '12 at 20:59

Your first job is to find how much light do you need.

The Australian Standard AS 1680 suggests lighting levels in an office environment as follows;

  • "Ordinary" visual tasks should be in range 300 to 400 lux [320 lux (task) and 160 lux (Background)]. Illumination is measured in units of LUX - lumens per square metre

  • For more demanding visual tasks, including proof reading and working from poor quality photocopies, 600 lux is suitable

  • Older workers may require stronger lighting

Depending on you type of job, the amount of light you need varies. After finding a comfortable light level for your office you can start to choose between direct or tracking lighting. The tracking lighting makes the ambient much more comfortable (in my opinion).

This website has lots office pictures to get inspiration.

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From an eyestrain perspective, I have arranged my lighting in the following ways. Most are intended to eliminate or at least minimize contrast between my monitors and the rest of the room.

  • I have two desk lamps pointed at the wall (painted a robin's egg blue with an eggshell finish) for diffuse background lighting, so I'm not "looking down a dark tunnel at daylight."

  • I have a lamp and wall sconce directly behind me to provide ambient light in my periphery.

  • I rely very heavily on indirect lighting by bouncing it off surfaces. I have no bulbs that can cause problems with retinal afterimages

  • I do not allow any light sources to originate along my periphery, as that area is especially light sensitive.

  • I go nuts with gaffers' tape to cover those annoyingly bright blue LEDs that cause distractions and afterimages.

f.lux is good, but you should emphasize that it does not adjust brightness. It only adjusts color temperature.

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