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 Lumenator. 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 lumenators 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 lumenator 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). [UPDATE: many of these amazon links no longer work, and I think I got some pieces subtly wrong. I recommend checking out this recent UK post and this post to get more details)

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, which I failed to find because I misspelled “lumenator” as “luminator”. The links on what to buy are out of date, but more clearly convey which technical specifications are important]