Workspace Lighting FAQ

Halogen Lights
While I can not clarify the cancer rumor I do know that these lights are dangerous, especially around fabric, paper, etc... The ones I've seen are self standing and are very heavy. The unit is very top heavy with all that glass and metal. They get REAL hot and if they tumble over the can start a fire. We had one that set dust on fire! I had cleaned the top of a bookcase that was next to one and later on turned on the light. We smelled smoke and hair burning. It was the dust that landed on it from my cleaning spree. *needles to say that I don't clean anymore!* ];} We trashed it immediately.

Halogen. there's the rub.
It's bright, it's white (not yellow, or blue, or green....). The lamps have been coming down in price. You do have to watch dust - the lamps burn hot. And the oils on your hands will cause them to break - so you must be wary changing the bulb. But bulbs last a very long time. I still think it's a good idea.

Halogen Hazzards
After reading through the medical literature (sparse)on Halogen lamps, it appears that 1) they do emit a strong amount of UV radiation, more than fluorescent light. 2) They cause mutations in Salmonella typhimurium and Escherichi coli and can contribute to keratitis in human eyes under the right conditions.
THE GOOD NEWS IS: all the articles agreed that, as long as the lamps have appropriate glass or plastic covers over the bulbs, the mutagenic effects were prevented. One article in the journal Carcinogenesis suggested that "This emphasizes the urgent need for a compulsory shielding of halogen and fluorescent lamps in order to prevent unneccessary exposures to genotoxic and potentially carcinogenic UV radiations" So, if your halogen bulbs are bare --beware! If they are protected by a glass or plastic shield, you can use them safely.

Work space lighting
My husband and I had our house built and of course is has the mandatory sewing room. Unfortunately the room is only 9'x 9' which I thought was adequate until I read aout Melissa's sewing wing! :-) For lighting I had a four bulb incandescent ceiling fixture installed in the middle of the room. Four bulbs really lights up the space quite nicely. What I find annoying however is the shadow that I sometimes get on my workspace caused by the light coming from my back. As the saying goes "if I had it to do over again"...I would install lighting directly over my workspace instead of in the middle of the room. I might even consider using flourescent bulbs. I am not a fan of the harsh white light given off by flourescent bulbs but I'm told that there are softer flourescent bulbs (that give off more of a pink tone). Has any one used these? Tina

Halogen warning
Ooh, don't get me started! I'm on a crusade to warn people about Halogen lights! Here's the story:
I left a halogen light on one morning; it had been dimmer than I remembered for a couple of days. When I walked back into the room later, the apartment was on fire! Turned out the bulb had exploded, sending melted glass up to ten feet away, starting fires everywhere. It was a fairly major fire, and we lost a lot of our bedroom. Not only that, but when we told our friends about it, we found out that something similar had happened to another friend. To be fair, I know a bunch of other people with halogen lights that haven't had any problems; I just think it's worth having all the information.

Workspace lighting
I have two fluorscent workshop style hanging lights...two tubes in each. I use the daylight bulbs in them and really like the color of the lighting. I would prefer NOT to be in the basement......

Other ideas
I am truly blessed to have 2 sewing areas: an upstairs "design area/quilt library/stash closet/pinning table" a 1st floor laundry room with built in cabinets and countertops with knee holes for sewing and serging. I just had track lighting put in the upstairs room with 2 canisters pointed at the fabric closet and 4 pointed at the work table. So far I haven't encountered a problem with shadows but the lights are movable so I'm not worried. The laundry room had 5 recessed lights that used standard bulbs with a glass filter flush with the ceiling -- it was kind of dingy so I had them changed to new recessed fixtures with flood lights. Yo baby its bright in there now! But I can now sew well into the night which my tired old eyes wouldn't allow in the old lighting. In talking to the electrician he did mention the possiblity of flourescent lights using "full spectrum bulbs". He described these as the lights that would not distort colors like the regular flourexcent bulbs.

Other ideas
WHEN I get my sewing room, I will install a combination of the full spectrun flourescents and incandescent, since the full spectrum mimics daylight and what ever I make will probably live in incandescent. Thats the plan anyway...

flourescent lights
Yes - they are all over the building I work in. They do give off a pink light and it is very obvious. When they first started putting them in I hated them. As you walk past offices and look in, the room is truely pink. But once you get into the room and get busy, they are a softer light than a traditional fluorescent. But for a sewing room, I'm not sure how they would work. I wonder how much they change the true colors of the fabrics. I suppose that as long as you have plenty of windows, it might not matter too much during the day. But I would suggest good old table lamps and floor lamps. That is what I have and they work fine. Plus I can move them around if I need to.

flourescent bulbs
We recently had almost all of the incandescent bulbs in our condo exchanged for some of the new flourescent bulbs that work in 'regular' fixtures. This is an attempt to save some money on electric costs that our condo association has implemented. I was concerned about the color problems and wasn't going to let them change the bulbs in my sewing room. After looking at some fabric under the new bulbs and not seeing a problem, I let them change them all. They take a little while to get bright, but the new color correction seems to work. I currently have a pendant light fixture in the middle of the room and then two clamp-on lights directed at my sewing area. One is behind my sewing machine and angles down to supplement the light on the machine. The other is on a shelf above my sewing area and is angled to throw light at the entire surface. Before my husband bought me some more sewing room paraphenalia for Christmas (which necessitated a rearrangement of the room), I had a two bulb flourescent shop light suspended over my sewing table. The colors were awful, so I chose my colors by natural light or took them into another room, but I needed the higher intensity to see what I was doing. When we move, I'm going to insist on a halogen lamp for the hobby room.

halogen safety
As a secondary comment here - I just checked the the Cancer Information Service office located downstairs in the building where I work, and they confirmed what Judy says (wasn't doubting you, Judy! - I checked with them before I read all my messages :)), and also said that a recent study in Italy indicates that if you are more than 20" away from the halogen bulb, that your risk is virtually eliminated. Which means that the halogen floor lamps that shoot the light up and towards your ceiling are probably perfectly safe. You might want to be a little more cautious about long exposure to the beautiful, sleek desk lamps. The woman to whom I spoke emphasized that the available studies were done in animal populations, but that it couldn't hurt to be careful....
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