Diy indoor lighting ideas

So, how do you avoid the inevitable exposure to bright light while viewing your TV or monitor? The key is to increase the general luminance in the room without introducing problems that arise from just indiscriminately flipping every the lights on.

Let’s glance at this 3D mockup of a beautiful typical living room setup to illustrate how common lighting configurations are problematic for screen viewing (although this mockup is centered on an HDTV, the same lighting problems apply to workstations too).

In your typical living room or workspace, you own ceiling lights, floor lamps, and table lamps—all of which are typically located either above or, in the case of maps and accent lighting, in front of the screen at roughly the same height as the viewer’s head.

Turning on these lights while watching TV does in fact mitigate the issue of the bright screen framed against a extremely dim room.

However, it introduces a whole new host of problems.

Diy indoor lighting ideas

Lighting that is to the side or behind the viewer projects light onto the viewing surface. This decreases contrast, introduces glare and haze to the image, and creates its own helpful of eyestrain as a result.

Diy indoor lighting ideas

It may not be as intense as the helpful of eyestrain you get staring bleary eyed at a bright TV in the dark, but it’s eye strain nonetheless—and it makes the picture glance worse, to boot.

Unlike regular lighting, bias lighting is placed behind the screen you are viewing. This raises the surrounding light levels in your viewing area without shining light toward your eyes or toward the screen itself. Because the light originates exterior of the sight line of the viewer and is not in a direct path to reflect onto the screen, you get every the benefits of increased light in the room without the problems of glare or light shining directly from the source into your eyes.


What Is Bias Lighting and What Are the Benefits?

Before we delve into what bias lighting is and why you’ll benefit enormously from implementing it, we need to glance at the mechanics of the human eye to truly understand why bias lighting isn’t just a showy trick, but a useful technique that increases viewing comfort and image quality.


How to Select and Set Up Bias Lighting

At this point you’re probably thinking “okay, okay, you’ve got me.

Bias lighting sounds grand, and I desire it. Just tell me how much it costs so I can get over the shock.” Fortunately for you, it’s really cheap to implement a perfectly functional bias lighting system.

Don’t get us incorrect, there are extremely pricey ways to go about doing it (such as purchasing a Philips TV equipped with their custom color-shifting bias lighting Ambilight system) but there’s absolutely no need to incur such expenses when there are plenty of inexpensive alternatives.

First, let’s break below what makes for a excellent bias light and why.

Then, let’s glance at some economical DIY and off-the-shelf solutions.


Why Screens Strain Our Eyes

The most significant thing to understand is that your eyes work on a system of averages. When you glance at something, whether that something is car headlights in the distance, a beautiful landscape, or a television screen, pupils dilate to regulate how much light enters your eyes. The degree of dilation is triggered by the average quantity of light your eyes take in from the entire scene—not by the single brightest point of light within that scene.

When you watch television or use a computer in a dark room, your eyes stare intently at a little window of extremely bright light that is floating in the sea of darkness around the screen.

Your eyes accurately perceive the screen to be extremely bright in relationship to the relax of the room. However, your eyes don’t adjust to the average level of brightness displayed onscreen. Instead, they adjust to the average brightness across your entire field of view.

This actually causes two problems. First, you’re not seeing as clear a contrast onscreen if the relax of the room is dark. Your eyes will perceive richer dark areas if the surrounding field of vision is not as dark.

Second, and more significant, your eyes can become rapidly fatigued. With extended exposure, you’ll likely experience dry or watery eyes, general discomfort, and even tension headaches radiating out from the temple area.

In worst case scenarios, with extended exposure some people experience ocular migraines—visual disturbances or even extreme headaches that result from intense eye strain.

Fortunately, despite the fact that your mom might own insisted watching too much TV or TV with the lights off would make you go blind, the effects of such eye strain are temporary and within less than a day of exposure, the symptoms of dry eyes and fatigue should resolve themselves. That doesn’t mean you need to endure it every time you use your workstation or watch a movie on your beautiful new HDTV, though.

Bias lights can assist a lot.


Selecting a Bias Light

The most significant thing to consider when selecting a bias light for your television (aside from the physical consideration of whether the light actually fits behind the screen) is the color temperature.

Light bulbs own a color temperature listed using the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale.

The lower the number, the warmer and more red the light; the higher the number, the cooler and more blue the light. Candle flames are 1,900K.

Diy indoor lighting ideas

They are extremely warm and cast a reddish/yellow light. Standard incandescent light bulbs are approximately 2,800K and are still fairly warm. “Cool White” or “Daylight” bulbs own color temperatures ranging from 5,000-6,500K.

While any bias lighting is better than no bias lighting as far as eye strain is concerned, if you desire bias lighting that not only relieves your eye strain but actually makes the content you’re viewing glance better, you’ll need the correct bulb.

You desire a bulb temperature that is as shut as possible (if not identical) to the reference point used in the industry that both manufactures the screens you’re looking and creates content for said screens. That temperature is 6500K.

The bulbs (be they CFL or LED) inside your HDTV or monitor are calibrated to 6500K. The film and digital video is color corrected to own a 6500K white reference point. The editing suites where content is edited and worked on own 6500K bias lights. Regardless of whether you use a fluorescent tube light, a strip of LEDs, or an incandescent light bulb, you desire one with as shut to a 6500K color temperature as you can get if your goal is to maximize the quality of the on-screen image.

This immediately rules out the majority of lighting we use around our homes, as there is a distinct consumer preference for warmer light.

What makes for a homey and warm feeling in your abode makes for a poor bias light.

Picking a light with the correct color temperature is likely every you need to do. However, if you’re dead set on getting the absolute best picture possible you may wish to also glance at the Color Rendering Index (CRI) of the light bulb. This number is rarely listed on bulbs intended for household use, but with some careful digging (or by purchasing bulbs intended for hobby or commercial applications where the CRI is important) you can discover the CRI worth.

Diy indoor lighting ideas

A CRI of 90 out of 100 or above is the minimum you should purpose for if you’re looking for maximum color clarity on your HDTV or computer monitor. This is definitely the province of people looking for an absolute picture perfect experience as opposed to simply relieving eyestrain. So unless you’re building the ultimate home theater setup—or you’re looking to break into video editing—you needn’t stress about getting a perfect CRI-rated bulb.

A quality bulb with a 6500K color temperature is more than enough for just about everyone.


The Additional Benefits of Bias Lighting

If you still need some convincing that extends beyond saving your poor eyes from fatigue, then consider two other grand benefits.

Diy indoor lighting ideas

First, the additional indirect lighting provided by the bias lighting increases the contrast of the on-screen image, making your picture glance better.

Refer to the optical illusion image above to see the effect made apparent. The bar that stretches across the middle of the image is one constant shade of gray (RGB: 142, 142, 142) but it appears to be lighter in on the dark side of the gradient and darker on the light side of the gradient. This illusion, known as the simultaneous contrast illusion, illustrates how your eyes perceive gray to be darker and richer when seen against a lighter background (on the correct side), but more washed out when seen against a dark background (on the left side).

Diy indoor lighting ideas

Illuminate the wall behind your screen and the same contrast illusion takes effect: the grays and blacks on your screen appear richer, and the contrast seems stronger between them and the surrounding area.

Related to that previous trick, numerous people adjust the values for brightness and contrast to higher levels in order to get the intensity of color and black contrast they desire. If the environment you’re watching the screen in already helps boost the contrast and create a better looking image on the screen, then you can turn the brightness back below. Not only will your eyes thank you because the screen isn’t shining at your face love a headlamp, but you’ll extend the life of the backlight mechanism in your HDTV or monitor.

Eye fatigue reduction, better looking images, and a longer life for your monitor’s backlight?

Diy indoor lighting ideas

What’s not to love about bias lighting? Let’s take a glance at how to set it up so you don’t own to live another day with screen-induced eyestrain and washed-out pictures.


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