What is the best lighting to use when puzzling?
Lighting wouldn’t always be one of the first thing that you would think about when doing a puzzle, but for those of you that like to puzzle regularly, lighting should be high on your list.
The best thing that we have found is to dedicate one area of your house to your puzzling addiction. This could be anything from a kitchen table to a coffee table in your living room. We have a space between our kitchen and living room that wasn’t really practical for much because of where it was, so we decided to make this our puzzle central. Right in the middle of the area was a hideous light fixture that held just one bulb in it. The first problem with this was every time you would lean over the puzzle, you would bring your trusty shadow with you. The second problem was it was just too dang ugly to hang over an awesome puzzle. So, off to Lowes we go. There they had a really nice and decorative, long four-bulb fixture. We got that puppy home and had it up in a jiffy. For about two weeks we experimented with changing the angle of the arms and rotating the bulbs to face different directions, but there was our trusty shadow once again. Nothing was working. We were able to get rid of most of the shadowing, but now we were stuck with a very annoying glare that made the fine details of the puzzle really hard to see. Then an idea hit me. What if we just put the light on a dimmer switch. Brilliant... Off to Lowes again we go. Dimmer switch installed, and wouldn’t you know it. By the time you dim the lights enough to get rid of the glare, it’s to dang dark to see what you’re doing on the puzzle.
Time to put on the old thinking cap again. Problem one was that we were casting a shadow over our puzzle every time we would bend over, and problem two was now we have an annoying glare on our puzzle making it just as hard to work on.
Back to Lowes one more time. Not with any grand plan or idea, but to stare blankly at what seems like ten billion different lighting options hoping one of them would spark an idea. After telling three different employees, "No, I don’t need help, I’m just standing here," I finally figured out what I needed to do. For our first problem the answer was easy. If you have a shadow when you bend over, put your light source in front of you. And second, if you’re having blinding spots on your work surface, use a lower wattage bulb. So back home we go to find out what wattage bulb we were using, and what type it was. (Lowes is thankfully very close to home) Come to find out we were using a small flood light style bulb, and they didn’t make any other bulbs for that style of fixture. Time for Plan F.
We didn’t want to take down what we had up already because we didn’t really see anything that looked nicer then what we already had, and nothing looked like it would do any better either. So, we moved on to another idea. Strip lighting. Now the area we dedicated to puzzling is only about eight feet wide and ten or so feet deep. We have a table on one side with a puzzle on foam board on it, and the other side is more of just a walkway between the rooms. We didn’t feel the need to make to entire area look like a beacon when you turned on the switch, so we only focused on the half that we were actually using for puzzles. We decided to put a four-foot light at the head of the table, and one four-foot light on each side. That way no matter where you stood, you would always have at least two lights shining on the puzzle to keep the shadow monster at bay. Now we also went with LED style lights because they are dimmable and so after I wired them all together, I put them on a dimmer switch just to have full control of the lights.
This by far has been one of the best things we have done when it comes to the puzzle area. If you are a subscriber to the Addicted 2 puzzles YouTube channel, then you can tell right way the clarity of the entire working surface. If you are not a subscriber yet, I welcome you to go check out Addicted 2 Puzzles where you can find a large collection of stop motion puzzling of some of our favorite puzzles.