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Task Lighting

Along with ambient lighting for general illumination and accent lighting for decorative purposes, task lighting is one of the three basic types of lighting for the home by providing the lighting scheme for rooms in the home. Ideally, every living space in the home needs a flexible arrangement of all three types. Task lighting is lighting for close activities such as reading, typing, sewing, cooking, or any of a number of other tasks.

Task Lighting Sources

Task lighting is often best achieved with a variety of light sources, such as ceiling or wall-mounted lighting with a floor or desk lamp. For some applications, one well-selected source will suffice. For example, ceiling or wall-mounted lights are best for rooms with small children, as they offer less risk of accidental damage than floor or desk lamps.

Types of Task Lighting

Task lighting is available with:

Because halogen bulbs tend to produce large amounts of heat, they must be selected carefully. A halogen bulb would not be well suited as a workstation lamp, for example, but could be appropriately used as a floor lamp directed upward and in combination with another type of task light.

Soft white tungsten bulbs are better than clear or colored bulbs for task lighting. For tungsten lamps, a bulb with a minimum of 60 watts is suggested for optimal task lighting. The wattage of the bulb must be carefully chosen, as too high a wattage can produce glare. A three-way bulb or a dimmer switch is a good choice, as it allows flexibility in the intensity of the bulb.

Balancing Different Light Sources

The task lighting should be brighter than the other lights in the room. If all three types of light are on upon entering a room, the eye does not easily differentiate between them. However, if the ambient light is turned on first, the task and accent lighting will bring out the brilliance of the room. Allowing the eye to acclimate to the intensity of light can also prevent eyestrain.

Correct Placement of Task Lighting to Reducing Fatigue and Discomfort

For optimal task lighting, a desk lamp should be placed so that the bottom of the shade is at eye level. If the shade is higher, the glare and shadows will cause eyestrain. When the shade is lower, the light will be focused on the desk surface and not the task itself. Desk lamps should also be chosen in proportion to the size of the work surface. The lamp's shade should be approximately two-thirds the height of the lamp's base and about one and-a-half times the width of the base.

Clip-on lamps are also suitable for task lighting and can be moved where needed. If task lighting is causing headaches or fatigue, it might be caused by too much contrast between the ambient lighting and the task lighting. In these cases, the wattage of the ambient source should be increased.