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Lighting solutions for the dark days of winter

Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility
Laura Akgerman, Disability Services Coordinator for Ohio AgrAbility

Does your workload get lighter as the days get shorter and darker? Probably not. Animals still need fed and tended to, work needs to get done, and equipment needs fixed.

A well-lit work space is important to ensure that you can work safely and effectively. Task lighting makes work safer and easier, allowing you to see your equipment and workspace. Task lighting can be portable, permanently attached, or you can even wear it.

LED lights are one solution for lighting a poorly lit area, or upgrading older, expensive to use lights.

 

Task lighting

Task lighting is the lighting available in a workspace, or the area where a task will be performed. Poor lighting, such as only overhead lights, can cause shadows, and make work more difficult and dangerous by hiding sharp edges and other hazards. Inadequate lighting can cause eyestrain, blurred vision, dry and burning eyes, and headaches.

Task Lighting safety practices (from Task Lighting, Fact Sheet, Jepsen & Suchy, 2015)

  • Provide lighting with adjustable intensity to meet the needs for different tasks
  • Provide portable lighting at the task location as appropriate
  • Keep walls, ceilings and floors clean, and use lighter colors on them to reflect light
  • Replace and clean lights regularly
  • Allow enough time for the eyes to adapt from a well-lighted to a low-lighted area and vice versa
  • Use filter to diffuse overhead lighting.

 

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

LED lights are available in Edison base (screw in), spotlights, floodlights, linear tubes or light strips. LEDs come on instantly, and are excellent for task lighting. LEDs last for years, and become brighter in cold temperatures, making them ideal for use outdoors, in barns, or cold storage.

LEDs use at least 75% less energy than halogen or incandescent, and at least 15% less energy than compact fluorescent bulbs, saving on electricity costs. LED lights do cost more than other types of lights, but their long life and lower energy costs make up for the higher price. The Minnesota Department of Commerce did a yearlong study on an all LED green house, and found that the LEDs saved 47% on energy costs, and would take only 2.2 years to pay for the cost of LED lights (and the lights will last much longer than 2.2 years).

LED headlamps are ideal for wearing when you need a light, but don’t want to use a flashlight. The headset has elastic bands that allow you to wear it on your head, and the light beam is directed at whatever you are looking at, which makes it ideal for working on equipment, walking the dog at night, or walking/running outside after dark.

Ohio AgrAbility used LED lighting in the milking parlor and barn of a dairy farmer who had lost some of his vision due to diabetes. He had a severely restricted field of vision, he couldn’t tell the difference between similar colors, and was rendered nearly blind by changes in light intensity. Before LED lights were installed, it was difficult for him to work with the cows, and he had to depend on his employees to do the bulk of the work. After LED lights were installed, the farmer was able to resume working, he could inspect the cows to be sure they were healthy, and could safely move throughout the barns and his property.

For more information about LED lights, and examples of LED uses, please see the fact sheet from University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension: Lighting Technology: LED lamps for home, farm and small business at learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/a4050.pdf.

For more information about task lighting, please see the fact sheet from Ohio State University Extension: Task Lighting at ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/aex-79017.

Laura Akgerman is the Ohio AgrAbility and Disability Services Coordinator for OSU Extension. She can be reached at 292-0622 or at Akgerman.4@osu.edu. This column is provided by the OSU Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, OSU Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center, and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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