Today in the second part of our three-part guest post from Needle in a Haystack we’ll learn about the different types of lights.
I know this is going to sound like shameless marketing, but I love my Stella lamp. It’s the first task lamp that I’ve found that gives me enough light to not need better general lighting at the same time. So it’s fabulous for hotel rooms, friends’ houses and class rooms. There are other brands on the market now that are going after the high end task lighting market but I still think Stella is the best. I’ve been known to take my Needlework System 4 Travel Mate along on a trip just so I have something to clamp my Stella to, unless I know I might have a table to use. This week I purchased 24 of the Stella Desk lamps for class use as we start doing our weekend events at the local hotel. You know I like something when I’m willing to spring for that many of them!
Whether you pick a high-end lamp light like a Stella or something more moderately priced like a Dublin, Brighton, or Daylight D20, see if you can try it first to ensure it will help solve your problem. You don’t want to spend money on something that won’t help you. This is especially important with LED lamps since as I noted above, it’s rare to find the technical specs so you can determine how bright they are. For this article I tried tracking down the Lumens for Stella, CraftLite Dublin and Brighton, and the Daylight[ Company]’s D20 and Foldi. I was able to obtain the Stella specs (127 to 1410 Lumens depending on the setting) and find the Lux rating for the Daylight (900 & 930). But mapping Lux to Lumens isn’t something I have figured out, even with finding the math formula. I’m hoping someone I know who’s an expert in this can help me sort it out. And then I’ll post that info later.
LEDs don’t blow out like regular bulbs, they fade over time, eventually dying. However that time is 35,000-50,000 hours so longer than many of us will be stitching. As they lose their luminescence they dim vs. just fail or flicker. If you have an LED lamp that uses batteries, you’ll get this affect as the batteries lose their power. The bulbs will dim. Just put in new batteries or recharge the lamp’s internal battery. LEDs are generally not replaceable as they are hardwired into the lamp mechanism in a whole different way. As far as I can find most LEDs used in these types of lamps have a Color Rendition Index (CRI) around 80, which is decent for what we need. Finding anything over that in an LED is really difficult – maybe eventually they’ll get there.
Typically these are rated around 75-100 watts and come either in U shape or round. But with the advent of LEDs many of the florescent lamps are being phased out both due to concerns about the gasses in the bulbs as well as the lower cost now of LEDs, both to produce and to run them. I personally don’t use CFLs in my house except in very specific places, in part because finding bright CFLs is harder than incandescent. I understand the need to conserve power, but I’m conserving my eyeballs! I do use CFLs or LED bulbs in places where I don’t need as bright a light (like my porch) and I don’t want to replace them often. But I don’t use CFLs for stitching.
At the shop we use florescent bulbs in the overhead fixtures but we use a higher wattage (54W) with a color of 5,200K and CRI of 92. You almost never find all 3 of those ratings for task lamps but occasionally you do. For color matching anything between 5,000K and 5,500K is good. Once you get above 5,900K the light starts to look blue and throws the colors off. If you can find the CRI for the lamp or bulbs you want something at least 80, but 90 is better for stitching.
Many of you will be familiar with Dazor, which was the premium florescent task light company for many, many years. They are still primarily a producer of florescent lamps, many with integrated magnifiers used in jewelry work, component work, etc. They are not common for needlework anymore in part because none of the needlework distributors sell them any more. Dazor started selling direct and that made it harder for both our distributors and us to compete.
Incandescent Bulbs for General Lighting
If you use my incandescent method you need to make sure your lamp can handle that much heat. A 200 or 250 Watt bulb generates a lot of heat, way more than a 100 watt does. This means your lamp has to have reasonably heavy wiring and you may need a larger harp and/or lamp shade. I have a Stiffel floor lamp that’s next to the couch, which is where I do most of my stitching. I didn’t have to get the lamp rewired but I did buy a larger harp (the thing that holds the lamp shade on and away from the bulb) and I got a wider lamp shade made of only fabric (no plastic) to dissipate the heat. You really don’t want the bulb burning up the inside of the lamp shade! We have a great lamp shade store here in Alameda (Carole Chan’s on Encinal) and I took the lamp with me to find a new shade & harp eons ago. Carole’s daughter (who does a little stitching herself) and I had a fine time taking the shades for a spin. If you’ve got a local store with good people, talk to them about shades, harps and re-wiring.
I travel with a 200 watt incandescent bulb in my luggage and I swap out the hotel bulb(s) for a 200 watt so I can stitch in a hotel room, which are notoriously under lighted. I do take my Stella Edge sometimes as well, but the 200 watt bulb fits great in my carry-on.
Tomorrow we’ll look at where to position your light and compare features of several lights.