Artificial light or daylight – what's the difference?

Every building needs light sources. But what are the differences between artificial light and daylight and how does light affect rooms and people?

Reading time: ca. 6:00 min.

What is light and why is it so important for humans?

Light is the source of all life on earth. Without natural sunlight, plants could not photosynthesise and there would be no oxygen. And even from personal experience, you can certainly say that bright summer days lift your spirits and a grey autumn day tends to have a negative effect on your mood. So light is more than just a physical quantity, it is something biological, something poetic and something that can significantly improve our lives. In this overview, you will find everything you need to know about light, daylight and artificial light and the most important differences in terms of architecture, design and, of course, psychology.

What exactly is light? – a brief definition

Even from a purely physical point of view, light is not so straightforward, because light is both a wave and a particle. Think of a spork – the hybrid cutlery is a fork when you eat salad with it, but a spoon when you eat soup. Light is also a very similar case. The exact physical definition is hidden behind the way of looking at things.
From a psychological point of view, this is not important, merely an interesting side effect of such enigmatic light. Because in all of our perception, we know very clearly what light is: It is bright.
Yet we only see a small part of the light spectrum and much of what the sun sends to us eight minutes later – eight light minutes is our home star from Earth – remains hidden from the human eye. This includes low-frequency infrared radiation as well as high-frequency ultraviolet radiation.

But this fact is important to understand why daylight and artificial light are fundamentally different. Artificial light emits on a much narrower spectrum than the sun. However, due to the fantastic compensatory ability of our eyes and our lack of perception outside the visible spectrum, this remains hidden from us at first glance.
Also important for our sensory perception of different lights are the intensity – as brightness – and the spectral composition – as light colour. Because these are also decisive factors for how the mind and the quality of light interact.

It becomes very divergent once again with the visibility of light, because we cannot see the light rays themselves. But in fact we see nothing other than light: Every colour we perceive is only the reflection of light in space. So light is always present and is everywhere around us.

Artificial light and daylight – what is the difference?

There are some significant differences between natural daylight and artificial light. Most important here are intensity and spectrum. The full light spectrum can only be found in daylight, although bright sunlight is not absolutely necessary.

Even an overcast winter day still provides better light than bright office lighting. This natural daylight not only lifts the mood and helps the body produce vitamin D, it is also better for the eyes and productivity.

Fonts are easier to read and colours easier to distinguish in daylight than in artificial light. Also, our eyes do not have to strain as they do in the light of a lamp. The white light colour of the midday sun or an overcast day is rather cool and provides a clear and unfiltered colour perception.

The latter – i.e. the light colour in Kelvin – can be imitated by some artificial lamps. Cold or neutral white light can artificially have a similar effect on inner activity as daylight, and this is even better with full spectrum lamps. However, these light sources cannot be compared with daylight because they lack the necessary intensity and natural dynamics. Natural light is accordingly always better than artificial light.

The inner clock – light as a natural wake-up call

You can see how well daylight affects your productivity not only because of the positive effects, but also because of the negative effects. Our internal clock is synchronised to the natural day, our productivity increases in the cooler and more intense light of the morning sun and decreases towards the evening. Then we see from the sun mainly the warmer parts of a reddish setting sun, hormonally our body gives the signal to go to bed. However, if you look at your smartphone too long in the evening, you experience the negative aspects of the interplay between human biology and light. The blue light from LED displays keeps the head awake for unnaturally long periods of time and causes sleep disturbances.

Natural daylight is therefore the best way to work more productively and healthily, but not all light sources are equally suitable for this. Daylight in any form is superior to artificial light sources, but windows in the wall are often not enough. Especially in larger rooms, not enough daylight can penetrate into the depth of the room from the wall. Moreover, we only ever capture part of the sky via walls. The remedy here is light from above. Even small skylight openings have the same effect as much larger side windows and can easily illuminate the entire room on the top floors or in single-storey buildings.
And this is precisely where LAMILUX solutions demonstrate their efficiency.

Special properties of incident daylight are of particular importance for health and safety in the workplace. In this free white paper, you can find out all the important facts about

  • daylight and artificial light
  • legal requirements
  • and the illumination of workplaces!

Skylights from LAMILUX – Make each day the brightest

Installing lighting solutions in office buildings or industrial halls presents you with various ergonomic and architectural questions. Skylights from LAMILUX offer the right solution for every type of building. From rooflight domes and glass roofs to individual flat roof windows or industrial continuous rooflights, the daylight expert creates a natural and uniform light in your properties in which people can not only work better, but also feel comfortable throughout the day.
LAMILUX relies on made-to-order solutions that combine atmosphere, productivity, ventilation and even fire protection and can be perfectly integrated into any building shape.

Light as an essential component in architecture, design and construction

Without light there is no life – this is a simple biological truth. But light is also a “soft” factor in design and construction beyond such extreme sizes. Bright rooms appear larger and more charming, natural daylight helps us to concentrate and creates the hormonal basis for a healthy mind and a balanced day-night rhythm.

That's why you should leave lighting to the professionals and be happy to seek their advice if you have any questions. The skylight professional LAMILUX shows you how to integrate daylight into your building as early as the planning phase or how to retrofit elegant flat roof windows most easily. High-quality skylights from LAMILUX make daily work easier for you and your customers and combine architectural demands with design aesthetics.