Introduction: Bias Lighting on the Cheap

Picture of Bias Lighting on the Cheap

In this instructable, I'll show you how to install bias lighting on your LCD monitor. Bias lighting can really help to improve your perception of contrast, and make panel monitors much easier on the eyes.

Step 1: This Is Simple

Picture of This Is Simple

Most expensive bias lights are 6500K (which is the colour tempature of white on nearly all LCD and Plasma screens) Fortunately, most daylight simulation bulbs are that too.

For this you'll need :

1 cheap clip on spotlight (mine came from Ikea)
1 C clamp
1 Daylight flouroescent bulb

Easy really just clamp the C clamp on the rear of the arm of your monitor, you're looking to get it as central as you can. Then fix the spotlight onto the clamp. It's got to throw light evenly behind your monitor when on.

Then fit bulb, and switch on.

Step 2: Here Is the Bulb I Used.

Picture of Here Is the Bulb I Used.

1 GE 9Watt (it's the same brightness as a 40W regular bulb) daylight bulb

I got mine mailorder, but I've since found that they're not hard to buy at DIY stores

Step 3: Done!

Picture of Done!

Total cost :

5UKP for Ikea lamp
4UKP for clamp
15UKP for bulb.

So, for around 25quid, I've made sitting at my desk a lot nicer. Shown here behind a Dell 2007WFP


trgz (author)2017-12-06

Nice, I did wonder if a diffuser might be an idea. Oh, and II recognise those speakers - got a set myself!

theness (author)2011-08-22

this is pretty cool. but i also looked up bias lighting and found a product that is designed for it. it's called the antec 6 LED lighting. i think it's listed at $12 bucks, but i got mine for 9 at has anyone else used their product? i think it's pretty decent since i play in low light settings.

RItz_ (author)theness2017-01-06

I recently used those as a replacement for my idealume but they are far too dim, and color temperature is too "cool". I found a dimmable LED Bulb(6500k) works significantly better as you have more control.

RItz_ made it! (author)2017-01-06

Clip on Light:

Bulb: TP Link A19 Dimmable bulb (smart phone controllable)

You can use the edge of your desk, your monitor stand, or a C-clamp which just provides a mounting point for the lamp. I got a tekton clamp from amazon, would say the smaller the clamp the better.

mfacer (author)2007-03-10

Bought two cold cathodes and wired them up to the molex power cables inside the PC... the photos are not very good - but it really does make a difference when working in the dark!! (at the moment they are held on the back with insulation tape... very high tech!)

chully (author)mfacer2008-07-03

It makes me wonder: If I've already got a cold cathode light inside my monitor, why get another one to tape on the back? Is there any chance I could draw light out from the internal backlight to bias the screen? To be worth it, The backlight must still do its original job at 100% capacity.

uberchoob (author)chully2010-07-24

Only problem with this is that the case keeps all that light radiating in the right direction and keeping making sure you don't see things behind the LCD. If the case was removed, the LCD would be seen as semitransparent instead of a solid image, which might actually be kinda cool, like a minority report kind of thing. This is a long time since you've posted this. Have you tried it out??

davidprosser (author)chully2008-10-11

I'd remove the back cover of your monitor and see what light comes out - you never know, it could work!

bwahacker (author)2009-02-18

I am using two $10 gooseneck lamps from Target behind my monitors. I just point them up and away from the screen to illuminate the walls/ceiling behind the screens. One of them has an 11 watt yellow-ish CFL from Home Depot, the other one has a 6 watt white-ish CFL, also from Home Depot. Both of them are on X10 controllers so I can control them from sitting down without getting up and walking around the desk. Not very hacky, I suppose, but works well enough.

jj32x (author)2008-11-09

£15 for the bulb??? thats expensive. we get them for free and the most iv ever seen them cost is £5.

hcold (author)2008-10-11

Haha, I've had the same set up behind a big old CRT cabinet TV, and it provides enough light so it's not stressful on the eyes, but not distracting from what I'm watching. Lovely.

ssokolow (author)2008-07-10

Heh. I actually set up something similar to this without having a clue that there was a name for it or why it made computing at night more comfortable for me. I'll probably switch to yours now though. My current setup is a full-spectrum desk lamp pointing at the wall with a wire tied to the touch-knob and it'd be nice to have something strapped to the back of the monitor arm (dual monitor setup with a home-built monitor arm using a pair of $5 VESA-standard mounting plates off eBay) and a proper switch.

Hitman101 (author)2008-01-02

I made a little youtube video on this subject. Gave you guys proper credz too.

wetnap (author)2007-08-05

a nice cheap alternative that still looks good from the side is a cheap grono lamp from ikea. it is a rectangular open top block of translucent glass.

bobparker (author)2007-07-10

Nice information on the science. As I was reading this I was inspired to try putting LED string along the back edge of the desk - provides 2 benefits, 'backlights' the wall, and makes it possible to see under the desk (with a monitor on top of the desk, of course there is a computer under the desk). Should be low watts. The trick of course will be to easily secure the light string to the desk edge.

dchall8 (author)2007-05-22

I'm trying this with a 5-watt CF bulb at 2640K temp. It is a mini bulb supposedly made for inside refrigerators. Normally my office has two overhead 12-watt CF bulbs, of the same color. I'll try this backlighting just to change things up. My business is to transcribe data from paper to a database, so the overhead light is a must. The mood light will be for after hours and watching TV. I put the 5-watt bulb in a trouble light I had sitting idle in the garage. The cord is only 18 inches long so it fits perfectly plugged into the power strip for my router and DSL modem. Normally the steel shielding on a trouble light is hotternblazes, but this runs at room temp. Does the bulb color make that much difference if you have red walls?

mfacer (author)2007-03-05

I really like this idea... I wonder if you could wire up the lights using the power from the PC? I have a cold cathode lying around from the old modding days - now wondering whether it'd be an option to buy a few white ones and use those - although, they'd be on all the time - unless you add a breaker switch maybe.... possible you think?

bowdie (author)mfacer2007-03-06

That Dell I use has a USB hub bulit in, and I gather that's reasonable common, maybe power it from the USB?

If I remember right, the drive power connectors carry both 12V and 5V, so desk lamps would be a no go.

jnixon (author)mfacer2007-03-05

That's easy to do with almost any kind of switch. Likewise, you could do the mod describe above and add a switch to the line.

mfacer (author)jnixon2007-03-05

another thing - can you buy 1metre long molex leads?! Or would you have to make your own possibly?

mfacer (author)jnixon2007-03-05

what's the power output from the PC power cables.. I mean, could you plug a standard desk lamp for example to these?

Mr.Devious (author)2007-01-01

This would create a nice mod, but it's not exactly bias lighting, bias lighting changes colour based on whats on the screen, this is simply just white light meant to match that of the lcd.

commandercool (author)2006-08-28

I have looked everywhere for this bulb and I can't find it. Where did you get yours? What are some alternatives?

bowdie (author)commandercool2006-08-28

My understanding is that aquarium lights tend to be 6500K too, if that's any help.

commandercool (author)bowdie2006-08-29

Oh ok, thanks. I'll try looking for it. Unfortunately, I'm from the States so I can't order it from that site. =(

bowdie (author)commandercool2006-08-30

I've seen these bulbs at my local B&Q; (which is like a smalll Home Depot)

commandercool (author)bowdie2006-08-30

Yeah, I went to a Home Depot, and believe it or not, they didn't have it! In fact, they only had one bulb with the right base, but it was too dim to be of any use. An entire aisle with of light bulbs and you would expect them to carry something similar!

bowdie (author)commandercool2006-08-28

Mine came mail order in the UK from I google'd "6500K bulb" and the string from the sale recipt I got was "Daylight Compact Fluorescent 6500K 82 CRI - Selection:: 9w SES (Small Edison Screw)" Hope that helps, If you're in the UK, gbbulbs got the bulb to me next day.

bowdie (author)2006-08-30

One thing I've found that should be mentioned is that don't use this light for long "into the night" computing sessions. Because it's not far off daylight, it will rag your internal clock. I've found that I've been going to bed around 1am still wide awake some nights after staring at this. Looks like there really is something in light therapy!

karmaghost (author)spinach_dip2006-08-23

That's really cool, but if I searched correctly, a set of 4 (of which you used 3) would run you $50 (plus shipping, tax, etc.), which is at least twice as much as this setup.

MDWeezer (author)2006-08-22

Is this as effective when the display is almost right up to a wall? I've got a 20" dell display and I really like this concept, if anything I'll get a result like this Panasonic TV's. Worth a shot anyway, I often work with the light off in my office (which is off my living room, with a large entrance) but it has track lighting and those suckers are like spot lights and heat up real quick so I prefer working with them off.

bowdie (author)bowdie2006-08-22

Just make sure that any bulb you get remains cool. You only want tubes or energy saving compact tubes. While I'm not 100% sure, I would think a normal lightbulb would get too hot to stay behind the screen for any long time.

tobobo (author)2006-08-22

Here's my version of it. My lamp isn't as good but I already owned it so I just used what I had.

bowdie (author)tobobo2006-08-22
Looking good! The only difference is the colour temp. Most normal domestic bulbs are around 2800K, and the bulb I have here is 6500

Here's a rundown :

  • 1200 K: a candle
  • 2800 K: tungsten lamp (ordinary household bulb), sunrise and sunset
  • 3000 K: studio lamps, photofloods,
  • 5000 K: electronic flash, average daylight. A designation of D50 stands for "Daylight 5000K" and is the most common standard for professional light booths for photography, graphic arts, and other purposes.
  • 6000 K: bright midday sun
  • 7000 K: lightly overcast sky
  • 8000 K: hazy sky
  • 10,000 K: heavily overcast sky

It's the sort of bulb that people buy to get over SAD too.
JaDe (author)2006-08-22

Is that a The Legend of Zelda/Link Wallscroll I see hanging on your wall? ;-) BTW, is there some kind if science behind this? I would really be intersted in how this actually works. -JaDe

crabs (author)JaDe2006-08-22

The science behind this is that it's easier to focus on something if it is brighter than the environment (which is why the frame of that lcd is black and cinemas turn down the lights when the movie starts). Backlighting like this also makes you exercise your eyes by focusing at different distances (lcd-wall behind) which is nice :)

bowdie (author)JaDe2006-08-22

That's my home made Link poster. Here's a better photo (with my old monitors)

ikarias (author)2006-08-19

This looks cool and simple. but i wonder if it really works. Seems to me that you still sit in a dark room looking at a lit screen.

bowdie (author)ikarias2006-08-19

Well, kinda. This stops the monitors light being so sharp and "YOU MUST SEE ONLY ME!" I'm still here now, it's 19:41 local time, so it's getting dusky, and the light it now worth switching on. You can test it out just by putting a regular lamp on the desk behind your screen. If you like the difference, the bulb is worth buying.

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