How to Build a Lumenator

Once upon a time, a friend was sad. Speci­fi­cally, they had sea­sonal af­fec­tive di­s­or­der. They tried to fix it by adding lights to their room dur­ing the win­ter.

It didn’t work.

They tried adding a LOT of light.

It worked.

They called the gi­ant bun­dle of lights they as­sem­bled a Lu­mi­na­tor. Other peo­ple won­dered how they, too, might sum­mon a sun into their liv­ing room. The task was not ex­actly com­pli­cated or hard, but it was a lit­tle con­fus­ing and in­con­ve­nient. In­struc­tions were passed around by word of mouth, and in­di­vi­d­u­als cob­bled to­gether lu­mi­na­tors in their own homes. Some of them has sea­sonal af­fec­tive di­s­or­der, and some just liked their rooms to feel line sun­sh­ine all the time.

Bit by bit, peo­ple’s lives grew brighter.

Even­tu­ally, some­one said “it’s silly that there are no in­struc­tions on how to do this on the in­ter­net and it has to be passed around as weird Cul­tural Metis.” They said this, but then took no ac­tions based on it. Then a sec­ond per­son said that, and they too took no ac­tions based on it. And then fi­nally some­one asked me this week­end how to do it and I wrote this blog post.

(Don’t be too im­pressed, be­cause that sec­ond per­son who did noth­ing was also me)

A lu­mi­na­tor is 24 light­bulbs, hung in a row from your ceiling. You may want a dim­mer switch to con­trol ex­actly how bright it is. You may want lan­tern-cov­ers so that the light isn’t di­rectly in your eyes (de­pends on the room in ques­tion).

You will need the fol­low­ing ma­te­rial com­po­nents (roughly $300 on Ama­zon).

You can swap out the com­mand hooks for some­thing more ro­bust (i.e. nails in wall, if you’re al­lowed to do that in the space you live in) but the listed hooks worked for me.

Why 12 bright­est lights and 12 softer lights? Hon­estly, I don’t know, this is the wis­dom that was passed down from Ben Sancetta who told it to Oliver Habryka who told it to me. Some­thing about “it’s a nice bal­ance that makes the light not too harsh.” Shrug.

Put­ting it up is pretty self ex­plana­tory once you have the ma­te­ri­als. The only hard(ish) part is get­ting the com­mand hooks po­si­tioned so that can hold up the cord. Be­fore you’ve finished putting up all the hooks, the they won’t ac­tu­ally be able to sup­port the cord’s weight. But, it’s eas­ier to po­si­tion them if you have the cord with you, so you can place them di­rectly near each socket (where they hold the weight a bit more firmly.

So, you might want two peo­ple, one to hold up the cord while the other places hooks.

I can try to write up more ex­plicit in­struc­tions, for now just wanted to get this up so I could share it with a friend. I do think once you have the ma­te­ri­als and have over­come the ini­tial triv­ial in­con­ve­niences you can prob­a­bly figure it out us­ing your gen­eral hu­man in­tel­li­gence and ra­tio­nal­ity skills.

[Edit: it turns out there was an origi­nal ar­ti­cle writ­ten on ar­bital.com, which I failed to find be­cause I mis­pel­led “lu­me­na­tor”. The links on what to buy are out of date, but more clearly con­vey which tech­ni­cal speci­fi­ca­tions are im­por­tant]

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