Welcome back to another one of our weekly articles. This week we’re looking at how to achieve the perfect desktop lighting for your day time workspace or your night time battlestation. If you haven’t read our ultimate guide for minimal desk setups, you should start with that!
For those who already know what a monitor lamp is, you can have a look at what we rate as our top 5 best value computer monitor lamps of 2021 are.
Decking out your entire setup with RGB strips and RGB parts for your desktop may seem like a great option. Rumour has it that adding RBGs will even make your PCs go faster 😉 Okay, enough joking around. Let’s get down to the key elements on how to achieve the perfect lighting for your setup. We will be talking about:
- Why do we need good lighting for our setup?
- Proximity to natural lighting
- Color temperature of the light
- Backlighting for your table
- Desk Lamp vs Monitor light bars
Okay so, why do we need good desktop lighting for our setup?
So that we can take some sick photos and upload it to r/Battlestations and get infinite karma. After that, you can also upload it to Instagram and tag @minimal.desksetups to get it featured. At the end of the day, you can bask in the glory of mesmerising millions of people around the world with ultimate RGB light show you’re putting on.
Okay a bit overboard, but really, there are health and productivity benefits to having proper lighting. The quality of lighting can not only help increase the aesthetics of your desk setup but also your productivity. For one, proper lighting helps protect your eyes as poor lighting can reduce energy and may even affect your health, causing eyestrain and headaches, and ultimately impair your ability to work or game. Choosing appropriate lighting can also help you sleep at night which in turn will improve your efficiency for the next day. Sounds a bit complicated, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, we’ll help you through it by providing some key tips to find your ideal lighting solution.
What is good desktop lighting?
Ambient lighting and accent lighting can be added to help improve the visual character of any desk setup. Whether it’s a fully-fledged RGB controlled system for your battlestation or some simple warm ambient lighting for your workstation.
In terms of ergonomic lighting, a good amount of light for your workspace setup is where the ambient lighting isn’t too bright and is just enough. Our top tip is to allow for as much natural light as possible, whether via windows or a skylight, as warm natural sunlight will help improve any desk setup. You may need to account for glare during certain times of the day, however with the use of blinds or curtains. The main thing you want to watch out for is having high contrast between your monitor and the ambient lighting. It is generally not advised to position your monitor directly in front of a window.
Similarly, positioning a monitor too close to a window may result in glare which may have a negative impact on your vision over prolonged exposure. In terms of general lighting for the room, try not to use incandescent light as it has poor energy efficiency and try to use lighting options that utilise LEDs or fluorescent light bulbs. There are a variety of lighting options available that fit this criterion and it will be explored later in the article.
Color temperature of light
What is the colour temperature of light?
Light generally it sits on a scale of temperature between cool and warm. To the human eye, warmer temperature light appears more yellow and cooler temperature lights will appear more white or blue.
When staring at a computer screen all day, your body will suppress the production of melatonin. (Melatonin is a chemical produced by your body to help you fall asleep). This problem is generally present in every device that has a screen, including your mobile phone and tablet. To resolve this issue, most phones have a function to automatically dim and change the colour temperature of the screen to warmer tones during night time periods. For computer monitors, Windows 10’s built-in “Night Light” mode or programs such as f.lux can the same effect.
How to improve ambient lighting?
Surprisingly, the addition of warmer tone LED backlights your desk is a legitimate way to improve the ambient lighting in the room. Some people go as far as having the RGB lighting vary between cool and warm colours between day and night. Another way is to simply use standing lamps or desk lamps. However, recently, the use of screen bars and monitor lamps have become increasingly popular.
What are Monitor Lamps or Screen Bars?
Monitor lamps or screen bars are a LED desk lighting solution that is mounted on top of your monitor. You’re probably wondering why someone would do that, wouldn’t this cause glare? Well, monitor lamps are actually designed to focus light onto your workspace or desk, and not directly onto your face and eyes. The beam of light is extremely focused and is prevented from causing glare due to its design. See the image below.
In addition, most screen bars will have controls that allow you to adjust the brightness of the light. Some monitor lamps will also include the ability to adjust the colour temperature, which is a very important function.
Advantages of using a Monitor Lamp/Screen Bar:
- Improve the lighting conditions of your work space
- Reduce desk clutter, as the lamp is mounted to the monitor
Here are the top available Monitor Lamp/Screen Bar options.
Xiaomi MiJia Lite Monitor Lamp
( 69USD | 59 GBP | 99 AUD)
The Xiaomi MiJia Lite Monitor Lamp has one best monitor lamp designs to date. The main advantage of the design lies with a completely wireless control dial. For a minimal desk setup, this is a product we can wholeheartedly recommend.
Here are some remarks:
- The build quality is fairly high with an aluminum body
- The design is extremely sleek
- The wireless control dial also comes with several preset functions which is unique
- The attachment mechanism allows for a 25-degree magnetic adjustment to ensure that the beam of light is focused on your desk space.
- We would like to see a more variety on the color options of the actual monitor lamp as it is only available in black.
BenQ Screen Bar
(129USD | 89 GBP | 179 AUD)
The BenQ e-Reading Screen Bar has been around for a while and is considered one of the best products in its class.
It features an auto-dimming function as well as colour temperature control via a dial. Here are some remarks regarding the Screen Bar:
- The construction of the screen bar is extremely solid as it is built from aluminium alloy
- It mounts onto your monitor through an ingenious counterweight system.
- Fairly easy to use with the intuitive dial system.
Here is a product review from YouTuber, Michael Kocha and his in-depth review and thoughts on the product:
Overall, we think that the Xiaomi Monitor lamp is the most competitive option as it differentiates itself from the BenQ due to its competitive price and more robust feature set, one being the wireless dial. Although, there are a variety of options available in terms of desk lighting, such as desk lamps, to achieve the most minimal setup, reducing the number of items on your desk is always key. That is why using a monitor lamp compared to a conventional desk lamp is recommended.