Office Bias Lighting
office review

Imputus

I haven't been entirely satisfied with my home office lighting situation since I set up my standing desk. Working with overhead incandescent lighting throws too much glare onto my LED displays and working in the dark hurts my eyes. A few months ago I read an interesting Ars Technica article about bias lighting. The basic idea of bias lighting is to cast soft ambient light in an otherwise dark room to prevent eye strain and maintain good visibility of TV panels or computer displays. After reading the article, I decided to try out bias lighting in my office to see if it made a difference. Here's what my final setup ended up looking like:

LED bias lighting

Going into this project, I was somewhat skeptical about the utility of bias lighting. However, given the potential performance advantages and cheap cost, I decided I didn't have anything to lose. As I started to researching bias lighting options, I enumerated a few key features that I wanted in bias lighting for my standing desk:

  • USB Power: I wanted to power the bias lighting through the USB ports on my displays so that the lights would turn on automatically when the monitors were in use. USB powered lights draw very little power, eliminate the need to manually turn the lighting on and off, and free space on my power strip for other equipment.
  • No DIY Hacks: The greatest difficulty with finding bias lighting concerns finding a viable solution as to how to affix the lighting to the back of the displays. Some instructions opt for using a C clamp while others use an adhesive. I felt the DIY solutions were inelegant and that better options must exist.
  • Temperature: The proper color temperature of bias lighting is important. The ideal temperature is a personal preference, but after visiting some stores I found I preferred light with a temperature of about 5500 Kelvin. This temperature produces light with a slightly blue hue.
  • Lumens: Most USB LED lights can produce about 25 lumens and the level of light is typically not adjustable. Fortunately, my office is relatively small and 25 lumens is sufficient.
  • Price ≤ $30: LED lights are ridiculously cheap. I set a price cap of no more than $30.

After researching bias lighting options, I purchased two SIIG USB LED lights. The SIIG lights met all of my above bias lighting criteria and provided one especially compelling advantage—they required no glue, tape, or clamps to attach to the back of displays. The SIIG lights are intended to be used as keyboard lights and have a flexible, but semi-rigid metal sheath that extends from the USB plug to the LED light. This allows the SIIG to be bent into any conformation. From the back of the displays, the lights look like this:

LED bias lighting

I've found that bias lighting makes a huge difference after 10 hours of staring at computer displays. Using bias lighting together with the excellent f.lux app makes a huge difference in my daily work performance. I can now stare at my displays for an entire day without eye fatigue or headaches. If you've never tried bias lighting, I highly recommend it.