Introduction: Light Pole for Treating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, Or, the Winter Blues)

Picture of Light Pole for Treating SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder, Or, the Winter Blues)

With winter coming on, the amount of sunlight you can get every day diminishes rapidly. People in the northern states tend to stay indoors more. This is a nice way to have a taste of bright sunlight and the warmth of the tropics. This picture is severely f-stopped down so you can see the construction of it.

Step 1: You Will Need:

Picture of You Will Need:

A stand -- I used the bottom half of an old floor lamp.

Cable ties

A power strip -- be sure to get one that has enough space between the outlets.

8 "Natural" or "Daylight" light bulbs - 100 watt

4 dual sockets for light bulbs (two bulbs screw into this to go into one socket)

4 socket-to-plug adapters

Step 2: Assemble.

Attach the power strip to the pole with the cable ties. Screw in the light bulbs (how many people does it take, anyway? - :) ) and plug into the power strip.

Step 3: Turn On!!!

Picture of Turn On!!!

Enjoy your mini tropical vacation!!

Step 4: Important Notes.

1. Make sure your wiring can handle an extra 800 watts from one outlet. Don't put more than 1500 watts on one circuit (normally).

2. These get HOT!! If you have pets or kids be very careful not to let them get anywhere near it.

3. Keep away from curtains and walls.

Addendum: With the super bright compact florescent bulbs out now, you can bump each one up to a 250-watt equivalent with much less of a power draw. Heat is also much less of a factor. However, this type takes some time to warm up to full brightness.

Step 5: Additional Notes:

Of course, you can vary the number of bulbs and wattage by using different types and power strips.

I have two of these. One I have hooked up to an appliance timer. It is set to my wake-up time. Believe me, there is nothing that will wake you up quicker than being blinded by 800 watts of brightness in one second! It's a bright way to start the day and I usually wake up laughing because it's kind of ridiculous. Or else because it reminds me of Boot Camp...


ABaruwal (author)2011-01-25

Im making a wake up light for my final engineering project and and unable to find useful information :(
Can anyone help me with the circuit for the wake up light, please.

sherms667 (author)2010-10-29

Not only does one have to pay attention to the lux and lumens, the wavelength is VERY important. Even the SAD and full spectrum bulbs have too much of the light in the yellow spectrum and very little light in the blue spectrum. SAD is treated by blue wavelengths nt yellow ones. The type of bulb that puts out the most blue wavelength light at the highest lumens and the lowest cost is an incandescent gro-bulb. Use a lot of energy you say? sure- but is cheaper than so-called "full spectrum" bulbs, and SAD lamps. A gro-bulb can also be used in a regular or an i'ble lamp, is easily replaceable and I feel is far more effective than any full spectrum bulb I have ever tried.

jkollin (author)sherms6672011-01-16

Grow lights have enhanced blue and UV - great if you are a plant, not so good for human eyes. Look up "Blue Light Hazard".

If the mechanism for BLH is as expected, even the far end of blue light (480nm) is likely to be hazardous, and even when diffused. 505nm light ("Cyan" for Luxeons) would be < 10% as dangerous as blue while being 60% as effective for reducing melatonin levels (the presumed mechanism for reducing SAD and restoring circadian rhythm). You are correct that yellow (and red) light do nothing for SAD, and incandescent bulbs put out way too much of them.

So I am looking at building a box with 505nm LEDs, similar to this:
but with the Cyan Luxeons, and diffusers (essential to diminish any residual BLH).

Finally, make sure the light box is in your upper peripheral vision - it appears the receptors for melatonin/circadian are there, and the area of most concern for BLH is the macula (center point of vision).

Please take this seriously - macular degeneration is approaching epidemic levels as the population ages.

sushinoms (author)2011-01-07

I've always wanted to try light therapy since I almost always suffer from seasonal depression, especially since I've moved further up North. So sharing this has been super helpful for me. Thank you!.

johndoeyu (author)2008-12-09

@xsmurf: While it will change the light color - I don't think that's what you want to do. I believe that not only the amount of light but it's spectrum is also important. There are different spectrum light bulbs - and it seems logical that DayLight ("warmth" of 6400K I believe) are the ones you would want in a SAD light. Those compact CFL are produced in varying warmth's from cold (white) over daylight (yellowish a bit) to plain color of "old" in-descant bulbs (yellow). I tried ordinary in-descant daylight bulb of 100W and it started to melt the fixture where CFL 125 W equivalent worked without problems for a long time. It's also funny that it's blue glass (when turned off) I guess due to filter that blocks the harm full part of light spectrum (glowing wire inside is different from ordinary in-descant lights). And not to mention that those 100W are just way too weak compared even to ordinary in-descant 100W bulb. OTOH - I'm white skin, blond hair and blue eyes - and quite sensitive to light - and it really shows on my eyes which I can't open normally (without black glasses at least) on a summer day even when looking away from the sun - it's just too much light for me. So I'm looking for something that will spread the light through the room - probably mounted on the ceiling instead of ordinary chandelier.

PlayPatterns (author)johndoeyu2009-04-23

this is can double it too by getting light socket splitters...they're only about 2 bucks a piece at the hardware store and usually if you're using CFLs it still won't overload the wattage rating.

geetz (author)2008-11-11

My research suggests that the spectrum of light isn't too important, and that cool white flourescents (sp?) should be fine. Brightness is important: It's a minimum of 2000 LUX (not lumens) you are looking for, and more is better (reducing the time you need to spend under it. Lux is lumens per square meter, so if a regular bulb gives light in (very nearly) a sphere, you would need a 2000 lumen bulb and you would have to sit about 10 inches from it. (A sphere of area 1 square meter has about a .28 meter radius. About 10 inches.) A reflector can push more of those lumens in the direction you want, so you can be farther away. If you like, a simple lux meter can be had on ebay for about $35. Note that light on the skin seems to be as or more important than light on the eyes. If you Google "build your own diy sad light" you can find a few very informative sites.

certifyed (author)2008-10-21

I'm not sure if this helps but you can get replacement bulbs for sad lites for $32.00 @ who knew??

Dr. No (author)2006-10-18

Haha- I live in Alaska, where the sun doesn't rise until 11:00 AM and sets at 3:00 PM sometimes in the winter. People have lights like this everywhere.

linkspast (author)Dr. No2006-11-19

I have heard there are a few days where the sun dosent set... is this true?

Dr. No (author)linkspast2006-11-19

Sometimes in the northern viliages, like barrow.

qwerty90210 (author)Dr. No2007-12-03

I like the irony that you're a penguino but you're on the other side of the earth

DIY Dave (author)2007-11-09

It would be a good idea to use "soft white" CFL bulbs that use a lot less power and the light looks almost the same as regular bulbs.

ElectrodeMike (author)2007-01-17


implaxis (author)ElectrodeMike2007-01-20

"MY" all idiots??? Light My Fire babe!! OH YEAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

ElectrodeMike (author)implaxis2007-08-10


gigman (author)2006-10-09

To my knowledge the fact that SAD (the ones that combat the lack of sunlight) lights are in the 150-200 dollar range not because the companies enjoy ripping you off, but because a certain amount of light is needed. According to the Wikipedia a SAD light should be at least 10,000 lux (the article is here
I'm no expert on the lux rating of 100 watt light bulbs, but it’s just a guess that there under 10,000 lux. Anyhow I'm really interested in this, how’s it working for you?

graphak (author)2007-02-13

I realize that lots of light is needed to battle the winter blues, and that the type and color of the light is important, but for those of you who can stand flourescent light color, you might want to really consider using that type of light because if you are running lots of 100 watt bulbs for a big chunk of the day, I would hate to see the electricity bill. The flourescent bulbs are MUCH more efficiant, I think about 90% (not sure of actual percentage, but its really high) of the electricy used in regular light bulbs is wasted and is just converted to heat. Just a lil FYI, sorry if someone already posted this, i have time constraints and cant read the whole thread.

Leroy (author)2006-11-08

Thanks for the links, ewilhelm!
My doctor said use a bulb that's 2000 lumens or more as a SAD light. I use a Sylvania compact fluorescent lightbulb because it's only 30 watts. Supposedly it emits more lumens of light than an ordinary 100 watt incandescent bulb.

My doctor said to use the lightbulb twice a day, 20 minutes at a time. He said to occasionally look directly at the light.

I put mine on a wall timer to wake me up in the morning. I also use it at night by my computer--it's shining on me right now. I will use it until March.

modcult (author)2006-10-29

I used to use socket-to-plug adapters when I was painting walls and ceilings of rooms that lacked lighting fixtures. However, I noticed many of them had advisories from the electrical safety organizations, stating that they were not up to code (i.e, not necessarily safe to use). I haven't used them since.

moon161 (author)2006-10-12

in the winter I used to sun under a 670 Watt photoflood 'til it burned out. I think i got a lot more than the spec'd tens of hours out of it. Much fun that, moreso than a radiant heater. Could try a blue bulb too- less life, but a cheap 4800k lite. Certainly will be harder to drag it out of bed at 6: with daylite savings stretched till november this year :-\

cheapgeek (author)2006-10-10

Ah BootCamp- The only thing missing is the trashcan bouncing across the floor...

ewilhelm (author)2006-10-09

I used to have a bright light on a timer, but found that too jarring. So I got a sunrise simulator and hooked it up to a bunch of LEDs. Instructable here.

There's an interesting discussion about lights, LEDs, and SAD on another Instructable here.

Waking up to bright lights really makes a difference when you have to get up before the sun.

ikarias (author)2006-10-08

Maybe halo-lights are better for this, if you want the more natural look. Halogeen (dont know if this is the english word) produces different colors from a normal light bulb, that comes closer to natural sunlight. Maybe i'll build this, and hook it up to a time lapse set of relais, so , when turned on, slowly more lights go on, as in a sunrise. That might actualy be nice!.

trebuchet03 (author)2006-10-08

Haha... Freshmen year of college I had a light on a timer -- placed about 2 feet from my head (above me).... Now THAT is a scary way to get up -- but perfect for those 7:30am classes :P --- Funny, I just saw an old pole lamp in the garbage... I might have to go grab it :P

xsmurf (author)2006-10-08

I have a little X10 system at home and have always wanted to time my lights with my alarms (specially for the winter) but I've always been too lazy. Even though it'd be easy enough as I already use iCal + AppleScripts to generate my alarms (one time set for the whole semester ;D). I'll be moving in a half basement during the winter... I think I might make myself one of these... Maybe using plexi to cover the bulbs and spray paint it with some yellowish, translucent, paint to give a more natural light.

About This Instructable




More by implaxis:Ultimate Kettle CornFantastic Finger Fidget Flipper for FreePerpetual Puzzle Calendar
Add instructable to: