Guess which apartment is mine?

Apartment Windows

I moved to Chicago just in time for winter and its 4:30 sunsets. It was quite the shock to the system, after spending 3 months in tropical latitudes. Fortunately, I came across this post on Hacker News, which sent1 me down a deep rabbithole that some of you have probably traveled before.2

There is a robust and ongoing “quality versus quantity” discussion among folks building DIY lighting solutions to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

An overly-simplistic overview of the argument is that the quantity camp thinks that the perceived brightness of a room is the most important part of the equation. In practice, this means figuring out how to put out a ton of light as cheaply as possible and, as such, these folks talk a lot about “effective cost per watt” and the like.

The quality camp, often composed of people who can detect LED flickering, believe that “garbage in equals garbage out”. Cheap LEDs flicker and won’t actually put out light at the specific color they claim. You will find folks in the quality camp discussing which photography LED panels are the best for the price.

While the debate seems to have been fought to a standstill, recent scientific discoveries might completely upend our understanding of how light drives our circadian rhythm. But that’s a blog post for another time. Personally, given I don’t work from home, I decided to fall in with the “more lights is better” camp for version 1 and optimize from there if needed.

So without further ado, here’s my Luminator recipie:

Total cost: ~$165

The Feit bulbs can be set to one of 5 different color temparatures through a physical selector switch on the bulb base. Initially, I was a bit worried about the bulb temperature since the Command hooks don’t protrude far out enough to allow the bulbs to hang freely in the air. It turns out the bulb base is the piece that runs hot, and even then it’s not super extreme.

Yes, the bare bulbs on the wall is quintessential bachelor pad chic. But on those gloomy days where the cloud cover is so dense I can’t even see the Sears Tower a mile away, I can’t imagine trying to leave bed without it.

  1. I’m proud of this pun. 

  2. Ben Kuhn’s post, the original LessWrong Luminator post among others.