Full-Spectrum Bulbs vs Natural Light: An Analysis of Benefits

When it comes to choosing between natural light options and full-spectrum bulbs for your workplace, it’s worth noting that there are excellent reasons to go with either option. The best option for you is going to be based on your particular situation. Here’s a guide on navigating the best options among these two choices.

An Intro to Full-Spectrum Lighting

It’s important to define terms when it comes to full-spectrum bulbs, as people sometimes argue. In general, full-spectrum lighting refers to lights that copy the light spectrum of natural daylight.

This means that these lights are trying to look as much like regular outside daylight as possible. There is even a way of measuring how well the light does at copying daylight. This measurement is called the Color Rendering Index.

There is also a “temperature” scale for measuring light that copies daylight. This system measures the color of the light as related to how it looks throughout the day.

In order to count as full-spectrum, the CRI score for a bulb must be 95 or higher, and it has to have a color temperature of 6500k.

Full Spectrum and Measurements

Many bulbs that copy daylight only do so in a shallow way. They just try to get the general color right without giving viewers the full effect. Full-spectrum bulbs give you the quality of daylight across the spectrum. They even improve color rendition, which is the way that objects appear under a light source.

What Is CRI?

The Color Rendering Index goes from 0 to 100. Say you have a score that is over 95. This means that the objects you look at under the indexed light bulb will look similar to how they would under normal daylight conditions.

In other words, high CRI means a close reproduction of natural daylight.

What Is “Color Temperature?”

In real life, “Kelvin” is a unit of measurement that explains how much energy is being put out by something like a light source. When it comes to measuring the appearance of light, this measurement is also used.

So, for example, candlelight is measured as being between 1000k and 2000k, where “k” means Kelvins. When measuring color temperature, or how light appears, this measurement is also used to describe different shades of reddish light.

You then move into 4000k for more fluorescent lights and, of course, 6500k for a white light like daylight.

Full spectrum Lighting Chart

Full-Spectrum Bulbs: Benefits

When it comes to full-spectrum lights in the workplace, there are a number of benefits that enhance the workday for you and your employees. Here are some examples.

  • Aid Sleep Disorders and Depression-It’s completely possible to use full-spectrum light to help set your Circadian rhythm. A healthy circadian rhythm is key to aiding you in fighting depression or insomnia. According to the National Library of Medicine, evidence suggests that full-spectrum lights are especially effective for older adults.
  • Sunlight at Night-There are some office buildings where it’s simply not feasible for you to get natural lighting from windows or skylights. For one thing, there is no daylight at night. Fortunately, full-spectrum bulbs give you light that is 95% similar to daylight.
  • Prevent Absences Due to Illness-Some evidence suggests that a lack of proper vitamin D can be a problem for your body’s immune system response. However, full-spectrum light can help with this. A strong immune system keeps people healthy for longer periods of time. Therefore, fewer employees will be out frequently due to sickness.
  • Sweating Too Much-A vitamin D deficiency can actually cause people to have temperature issues and sweat excessively. As this leads to a more awkward workplace, lighting that promotes vitamin D production alleviates this problem and boosts productivity.
  • Better Healing-Vitamin D is also essential when it comes to healing from injuries or damage from accidents, surgeries, and so on. So, the right light can promote vitamin D and help people heal quicker.
  • Back Pain-Some evidence suggests that being in an office all day and sitting at a desk increases people’s risk for chronic back pain. A lack of proper lighting can make this even worse. And, it can be even more pronounced for women.


Improving Systemic Illness with Full-Spectrum Bulbs

Another long term positive benefit of full-spectrum light at the workplace include lower risk of heart disease. This is due to the fact that vitamin D deficiency can boost your risk for it.

Fluorescent lights are known to increase cancer risk as well as creating a negative effect on the skin. This includes both premature aging and wrinkling. This type of light can exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions, as well.

Natural Daylight Benefits

Keep Your Face to the Sun and You Will Never See the Shadows.”

-Helen Keller

Using natural daylight to help with an office environment is a positive choice. However, in most cases, you can’t knock holes into the wall to create windows after the building is already made.

In some cases, installing windows or skylights when the building is already created may be feasible, but it also may not. Some of this may have to be connected directly to the planning stage of creating buildings.

Whether you can create openings that let in real, natural sunlight in already established buildings is going to depend on factors like building codes, what’s above you in the ceiling, and so on. However, there are certainly benefits:

Natural Daylight Benefits

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder-Some people have trouble in the winter due to worsening depression. Find a way to get more natural light – either by going outside more during lunch or by natural daylight coming in through skylights or other sources. This often reduces the issue.
  • Skylights Can Save on Costs Long Term-The initial cost for skylights is often high. But after that point, you largely utilize sunlight to illuminate your office during the day. Natural light is free, so you could recoup the costs over a long enough period.
  • Reduce Fluorescent Lighting Problems-Fluorescent lights come with a host of problems, such as increased stress. Traditional CFLs, or compact fluorescent bulbs, can increase the likelihood that you’ll end up with eye strain or migraines since the light is so unnatural.

It’s also worth noting that a broken CFL bulb often dumps out mercury. A broken CFL bulb is extremely dangerous to your health. Instead, use natural light of whatever type. It can help you reduce these risks altogether.

Fluorescent light has also been shown to make fatigue worse. So, if employees are acting more tired than they do normally, more natural light can certainly help with this problem.

Similarities with Full-Spectrum Bulbs

There is some overlap between full natural light and full-spectrum bulbs, as you can see. This is because full-spectrum bulbs copy natural light to such a strong degree. This is worth noting when you make your decision about which kind will work best for you.

Benefits like boosting vitamin D, reducing SAD, helping to alleviate sleep and mental illness, and others, are benefits that both the natural light and the full-spectrum bulbs share in common.

Many of the problems, such as poor productivity, that are caused by poor lighting can be fixed by both natural light and full-spectrum bulbs. Headaches, sickness, eye strain, eye discomfort, and more, can all be alleviated by fixing the type of lighting employees encounter at work.

Productivity will inevitably improve in situations where distractions and factors contributing to poor attendance are removed due to lighting improvements, regardless of how.

Differences with Full-Spectrum Bulbs

The major difference between these two types of light is that full-spectrum light is often much easier to create without major renovations. Outfit the lights you have now to make them better for you and any employees. This is true since full-spectrum light is often so similar to natural light.

Get Started with Full-Spectrum Filters Over Your Existing Lights

At the end of the day, make sure that you visit a website that provides you with proper daylight-quality lighting. You can do this using fluorescent light covers that transform fluorescent lights. With these filters, existing bulbs provide full-spectrum, daylight-quality light.

You can also use light tube filters as well. In general, installation is not difficult. Place them over your existing lighting infrastructure at the office or place of employment. It is an efficient way to immediately improve conditions for all employees. Those with conditions that are exacerbated by poor lighting of any kind will notice a dramatic improvement.

Employees often feel the effects of an upgrade in light almost right away.

3 thoughts on “Full-Spectrum Bulbs vs Natural Light: An Analysis of Benefits”

  1. When I was at M.I.T. in the ’80’s there was a strong push toward “Natural Daylight Spectrum” lighting, and a company called “Luxor” made a variety of bulbs and tubes. The light I remember from them is different than todays full-spectrum fixtures, almost like full sunlight vs. bright overcast sky. 2 Questions: Does your “Temperature” graphic imply that the most we can hope for is overcast simulation; and (2) Has the technology gone through an evolution that would explain the differences I see and sense (c 1985 vs 2020) ?

  2. What is better for SAD, Full spectrum light or Broad spectrum? And what temperature in kelvin should they be? I have seen two major companies selling expensive boxes/light therapy and one light box is broad spectrum at 4100 k 10,000 lux and the other is full spectrum at 4000k at 10,000 lux. Which is better working, broad or full spectrum?


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