Full Spectrum Light Bulbs / Daylight Bulbs

What are Full Spectrum Light Bulbs?


Full spectrum light bulbs are designed to produce illumination that covers every type of light from infared to ultraviolet. The reason full spectrum bulbs are produced is because the color temperature of the light they emit closely matches the light from the sun.

Color temperature is measured in something called kelvin. The color temperature of a normal electric light bulb is around 2,700 to 3,500 kelvin, this light is characterised by it’s warm yellow colour.

Full Spectrum Light Bulbs

An Incandescent Full Spectrum Light Bulb

The color temperature of the light produced by the sun at midday is around 5,400 kelvin, this light is far more white and neutral.

Full spectrum light bulbs are also called S.A.D or sad bulbs (S.A.D being and acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder) and daylight bulbs.

Using Full Spectrum Light Bulbs to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

People who suffer  from Seasonal Affective Disorder (sad) mostly do so in the winter. As the summer ends, autumn begins and days get shorter, sad sufferers will begin do experience the symptoms of their condition. These symptoms include depression, low energy, lethargy and hunger.

Sad is a condition that should be taken seriously, in the most northernly countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark daylight can disappear completely in the the middle of winter. There is a correlation between this lack of daylight and increased suicide rates.

Luckily scientists have found that sad can be treated using full spectrum lighting. Just 20 minutes a day spent next to a sad light tricks the body into thinking it has spent time outside in the midday sun.

SAD Lamp

SAD Lights are an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

If you are going to treat sad with full spectrum lighting you need to make sure the lighting unit you use has a lux rating of at least 10,000.  Lux is the unit used to measure the total light output of a bulb, a regular light bulb will usually emit around 2,500 lux, at 10,00 lux, sad lights are a lot more powerful.

Consumer electronics maker Phillips produces a sad alarm clock. This features an in built full spectrum light bulb and something called dawn simulation. Dawn is simulated by the daylight bulb in the alarm clock growing gradually brighter as the specified wake up time is reached.  This has been proven to be a very effective feature for sad sufferers.

Using Full Spectrum Light Bulbs for Gardening and Agriculture

Plants need sunlight to grow. They use a process called photosynthesis which takes energy from sunlight and uses it to convert carbon dioxide into food.

Because plants need sunlight to grow, winter, dark homes and shaded gardens are not good places to cultivate them.

It is in places like those mentioned above, full spectrum light bulbs can be employed to help plants grow effectively all year round.

As the cost of fuel continues to rise, growing food under daylight bulbs is becoming a viable and less expensive option for those countries who during winter normally rely on food supplies shipped in from other areas of the world.

Also using full spectrum lighting to grow plants a vegetables means that things can be grown much quicker irrespective of the season.

Uses for Artist’s, Film Makers and Photographers 

Conventional light bulbs with their yellowish hue can misrepresent the color of an object compared to when viewed in natural daylight.

This is why many art galleries, photographic and film studios extensively employ full spectrum light bulbs to portray subjects in the most natural way possible.

In the Home 

Even if you don’t suffer from sad or have no wish to grow plants indoors, full spectrum light bulbs can benefit your home. Just one daylight bulb added to each room of your home can really brighten things up, making the space seem more natural, larger and airy.

Most full spectrum daylight bulbs also have the added advantage of using compact fluorescent technology that draws very little electricity, keeping power bills low.

I hope this article has given you some insight on how full spectrum lighting can be utilized and that you will try out some of the uses for yourself.

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