Perfect for the Task
The concept behind task lighting is to provide increased light for specific tasks. The room may already have ambient light – windows, overhead lights, floor lamps – but these may not be sufficient for the individual engaged in the task. For example, task lights are especially useful for seeing small objects or objects of low contrast such as when sewing, assembling products or even reading.
You may think that task lighting simply increases illuminance to throw more light onto the workspace. Contrast may be more important than illuminance as a poorly positioned light source may wash out the subject of the task thereby causing contrast reduction, resulting in loss of visibility.
As important as it sounds, task lighting is not a substitute for ambient, non-specific illumination such as overhead lights or even windows. Task lighting should be considered as complementary to other light sources, and intended to make specific tasks easier to perform.
According to the American Society of Interior Design, 68% of employees complain about the lighting in their offices. That’s a lot of dissatisfied workers. Would it be surprising to know that optimized lighting could improve satisfaction, productivity and energy savings?
In the late 1980s, the U.S. post office in Reno, NV renovated its lighting to be more worker friendly. Rather than adding energy costs, the upgrade resulted in about $50,000 per year in energy savings. Mail sorters in the Reno facility became the most productive sorters in the western half of the country. Machine operators demonstrated the lowest error rates. Between cost savings and productivity increase, the Reno post office boosted revenue by about $500,000 per year!
It’s no wonder that individualized control of work environments has also been shown to increase employee satisfaction and engagement. Not convinced yet? Just search the internet for many more examples of how task lighting affects productivity.
Whether it is natural light pouring in from a window or skylight or overhead fluorescence lighting, ambient lighting can generate glare on the workspace, reducing contrast and making it difficult for the worker to see details in the task. Adjustable-arm task lights can be readily positioned to deliver light to the worksurface, counteracting glare, improving contrast and improving the worker’s ability to perform the task with high quality. A unique feature to most Luxo task lights is asymmetrical light distribution. This allows the task light to be positioned slightly away from the work area while delivering a wash of illumination across the worksurface.
Adjustable-arm task lights offer the user individualized control over the lighting in his or her immediate work environment. Adjustable arms and light intensity allow the user to position and adjust the light for comfort and optimal illumination. Even with overhead lighting and windows, task lighting can be adjusted to accommodate variations in room lighting from morning to evening, and sunny versus cloudy days.
Even our posture changes over our lifetime and over the course of the day. Whether sit at our desk or we have standing or adjustable-height desks, a good task light affords individualized adjustment for light intensity and illumination placement for optimal contrast and glare reduction.
It’s not so hard to understand how a task light can reduce the cost of healthcare. Task lights add illumination and improve contrast for reading and activities requiring dexterity and attention to detail. The use of a suitable task light improves ergonomics, reducing the need to hunch over and squint to see the object of attention.
Migraines, headaches, drowsiness and fatigue are all reported side effects sometimes attributed to poor lighting in offices and factories. Providing individualized control of lighting at the workstation (e.g. with task lights) can significantly reduce or even eliminate some of these common maladies in workers, thereby improving productivity and well being while minimizing absenteeism for lighting-related issues.
Task lights allow individuals to compensate for fluctuations in their own visual acuity over time and throughout the typical day. As we age, our eyes need more additional light not just for illuminance but, more importantly, to increase contrast. Visual performance of people in their 20s is nearly four times better than those in their 50s and eight times better than people in their 60s. Even within the same age group, the quality of eyesight varies dramatically.
Other factors affecting eyesight and visual acuity are freshness or tiredness, healthy or sick, corrective lenses, the use of computer monitors, even what you had to eat for breakfast. Quality task lights allow the individual user to adjust the light to the desired intensity and direct it where it is needed.
Function and Fashion
Task lights are available with a variety of mounting options. Popular mounts include the edge clamp, table stand/base and recessed mount often called a grommet. The edge clamp allows the adjustable-arm task light to be mounted anywhere on the perimeter of a table, desk or bench featuring a slight overhang of the tabletop over the frame. The edge clamp can also be repositioned as required by the task.
The table stand or base combines full adjustability of the task light with the ability to place the light almost anywhere on the work surface. Table stands may also integrate other features such as a USB or wireless charging station and additional power ports.
Grommets offer a sleek integration of the bottom of the task light into the surface of the work surface. The grommet is the least reconfigurable mounting type, but delivers what may be the cleanest and most minimalistic installation.
Other mounts are available, too, and one of the more popular includes the track or channel mount. These mounts take advantage of horizontal or vertical grooves in partitioned work areas (e.g. cubicles). Track mounts allow the task light to be mounted above the work surface, yielding more valuable free space in which to work. Track mounts can also be repositioned along the groove or between grooves as the nature of work changes or as necessary to adjust for changing light conditions.