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Full Spectrum Lights for all living things, including all Birds & Parrots

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Catching Rays - The Artificial Way

We've all seen photos of the serious breeder and enthusiast, whose aviaries are often festooned with special lights and lamps. Many of these owners are using 'full spectrum lights', which may have several benefits when used with birds. Full spectrum light consists of fluorescent tubes or LED's which imitate natural sunlight by producing a broad range of optical radiation.

In this spectrum is the all-important ultraviolet radiation, vital to the processing of Vitamin D, and invisible to the human eye. It is the middle range ultraviolet called 'UVB' which activates vitamin D.

Full spectrum lights also approximate the colour 'palette' of outdoor light. By definition, full spectrum or broad spectrum (similar meaning) lights have a high colour rendering index (CRI > 88), meaning that the colour balance is similar to that of natural noon-time sunlight, and they have a colour 'temperature' between 5000 and 6600 K.

How is this done? Fluorescent lights are made up of glass tubes containing inert gases such as argon, and coated with chemical 'phosphors' which emit light at various wavelengths when an electrical current causes electrons to strike them. These phosphors give the fluorescent light its special properties.

Although most full spectrum lights are targeted for the reptile market, in fact some can be valuable for birds and also primates. However, correct use of full spectrum lighting involves a little homework. There is no information available on exactly how much ultraviolet light is needed (or is safe) for indoor birds. Remember also that percentages of UVB listed on tube packaging are not usually much help unless you know the total output of the bulb.

Your pet retailer should be able to put you in touch with a manufacturer's web site or customer service department if you have questions about the value of a particular bulb for avian species. Fluorescent lights are easy to set up and to use, but follow the manufacturer's guidelines for replacement times. Most emit useful amounts of UVB for at least one year. These lights should be replaced before we are able to see them flicker. Birds can actually see this "flickering" effect in an old tube long before we can!

A brief comparison shows significant deficits in the light spectrum of normal energy saving lamps or tubes (Top) when compared with the sun (Middle). Viva-Lite® Full Spectrum Lights instead balance these deficits using a highly specialised manufacturing process as per the (below) image.

What is Full Spectrum Daylight?

The original idea of full spectrum light goes back over 50 years: During the early twentieth century, the US Navy actively researched methods to combat diseases that commonly appeared on submarines where no natural daylight exposure was available to the crew for many days, weeks – or even months.

Ultimately, NASA provided a solution by creating the first natural daylight simulating tubes with added UV output to help the crew stay healthy even without access to actual daylight. In the early 1950s, Dr. John Ott made a name for himself with full spectrum light when he devised a way to capture the growth of plants in slow motion for a Walt Disney® production that had to be filmed indoors. Initially, the plants failed to produce blossoms and even died because of insufficient daylight exposure; this eventually led to the creation of a new lighting range, specifically developed for this purpose. In those early days, few could afford the expensive tubes that were made for such specific purposes, but nowadays the awareness of many people has changed. After all, how many products do you know that can make such a great difference in your life by something as simple and easy as changing some light bulbs in your home or office?

Analysing the Spectrum - the Viva-Lite® Advantage

Full Spectrum Light literally means "the sun’s full light spectrum that reaches us on earth". Having evolved millions of years under this particular light, one would expect this spectrum to be ideal, balanced and healthy for the human mind and body. And surely it is. Everybody knows the difference of how we feel on a bright sunny day in comparison to the moods swings we encounter on dark grey days. The reason for this are the differences in the spectrum between sunlight and artificial light. When we look at a lamp we think produces white light, it does not mean that its light spectrum actually includes all seven colours of the rainbow. It is well known that the millions of colours produced by TV’s and computer screens are only generated by the combination of the three colours (R)ed, (G)reen and (B)lue. But since we are not able to consciously see the actual spectrum behind a light source, we tend not to question it and are therefore not always aware that common tubes and energy saving lamps have only those three peaks of colour (RGB) - the remaining areas, where Viva-Lite® shows colours, are dark. But to see and feel good, we need all wavelengths of light. The goal of Viva-Lite® therefore is to offer its customers a balanced source of light, including a continuous spectrum, at a not too high, not too low colour temperature and a colour reproduction as close to the sun as possible.

The spectrum of ordinary daylight lamps (3-band) are discontinuous. Areas, where Viva-Lite® has colours, are dark. The spectrum of Viva-Lite® full spectrum is continuous and all wavelengths of visible light are present.

"Light is invisible, that's why we take it for granted, but when you look behind the curtain of white light and see all the colors of the spectrum, you suddenly realize: white is not = white."

Margit Brusda, Co-Founder Viva-Lite®

Why a better Light Spectrum matters

Our lives and working style has tremendously changed over the past 100 years. When previously most people were working somewhere outdoors – farmers for instance – exposure to natural daylight was common and absolutely normal. Of our daytime we spent around 90% outside and 10%, or even less, inside. Not so today:

  • Professions and society has changed: Our working time is mostly indoors.

  • Offices, homes, shopping centres etc. use double glazing and energy efficient building methods: They are almost completely closed to natural light.

As a result, we generally spend much less than 10% of our daytime outside and many of us are now unable to receive our daily dose of natural daylight. This we need not only for our daily dose of “good mood” but also on a purely physical level. Some parts of the suns full spectrum are essential for maintaining healthy and balanced body functions by controlling the release of hormones.

Such parts of the sun's spectrum (for example UV) are not included in normal incandescent lamps, most energy saving lamps or tubes.

"We have at last realised that light is a foodstuff like normal food and, just as unbalanced diet makes us ill, wrong lighting can also make us ill and only correct lighting can preserve our health. Research in this field has made significant strides, but there is still a lot to do."

J. Ott: Risk Factor Artificial Light – Stress due to incorrect illumination

For those concerned about UV exposure, it should not be forgotten that everything depends on the dosage. An absolute minimum of not less than 15 minutes sunshine exposure is needed to get our daily dose of Vitamin D3 transferred into a usable form for our bodies. Unfortunately even this very minimal amount of time is not easy to achieve in todays industrialized society. This lack is thought to lead to a number of chronic and widespread diseases such as for instance osteoporosis*. "Numerous medical investigations have revealed that for a number of body functions human beings too depend on a minimum UV light radiation."

Application & Uses

There are a number of reasons for switching to Viva-Lite® Full Spectrum Lights: From obvious benefits in colour reproduction, colour fidelity and health reasons to cost effective savings and increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Even though Viva-Lite® can light up any room with a better and more cheerful light, there are various applications and typical industries in which Viva-Lite® excels.

For these the following aspects are particularly important:

1. Colour Fidelity

A high colour reproduction is a most important sales tool for many companies and colour sensitive businesses. Viva-Lite® is a perfect solution as even for objects and materials containing fluorescent substances the colours are reproduced true to nature – say for example in clothes or in dental technology which is the reason why Viva-Lite® is so popular among dentists or in boutiques. Who would want to see that the colour selection of their own fabricated denture or veneer after all does not match 100% with the natural teeth? Or have you come across something similar that while liking the colour of a garment in a store (that eventually made your purchase it), when examining it under natural daylight, the actual colour of a pullover or a trouser may appear quite differently? Typical businesses and industries that realized the importance of good color fidelity are:

  • Retail stores (clothing, jewellery, florists etc.)

  • Dental industry (dentists or laborites)

  • Graphic design, photo and printing industries

  • Art galleries and museums

Through a skillful lighting arrangement with Viva-Lite®, presentation of goods can achieve significant turnover in growth. The result is, foodstuffs will appear more fresh or paintings shine more (after all, mostly, they would have painted under natural sunlight!), flowers and plants grow rapidly and are less susceptible to pests, jewellery items appear more expensive and high class, as they glitter and sparkle more than before.

2. Health & Wellbeing

If people feel good, a lot of good things can happen. It is a fact that light not only influences our immune system but also our state of mind and general health & wellbeing. One aim of the Viva-Lite® spectrum therefore is to create an ideal ambience in companies, offices and in homes for working & living. After all if the environment is good, we might just enjoy working a little more than usual and automatically become more productive and more creative. With Viva-Lite®, a lack of concentration due to ill-lit rooms can always be counter balanced: Eyestrain, headaches and fatigue can be kept at bay by minimizing the otherwise adverse effects of light and electro-magnetic pollution. Stress, aggressiveness, hyperactivity and difficulty in learning are not uncommon due to flickering and bad lighting, which triggers off a permanent stress in the humans who then are often diagnosed wrongly.

Viva-Lite® aims to lower stress levels, lessen headaches and improve communication and productivity in companies, also by lowering illness rates amongst staff. Where the health benefits of Viva-Lite® already have made a big difference:

  • Schools, kindergardens, rest homes, universities

  • Hospitals

  • Offices and homes

  • Factories, especially for shiftworkers

Simply changing the lamps can be an easy solution to many of the above mentioned problems. If you have constant or regular headaches at the working place, why don't you simply try it out for yourself?

3. Economical Benefits

The initial investment for the acquisition or re-equipment with Viva-Lite® lighting systems may seem rather expensive at first. That is not so, if we consider the long-term benefits such as enhanced productivity and creativity, decreased absenteeism due to illness and errors due to lack of concentration and an improved motivation for the employees - in short a direct influence over "economic efficiency". And then there are the statistics: Viva-Lite® full spectrum lights have an extraordinarily long lifespan while being low on power consumption. If Viva-Lite® full spectrum tubes are used in combination with the so-called electronic ballasts, besides mere savings on power of about 1/3 one can expect even a longer lifespan for the tubes – mostly double the normal lifespan. Studies also indicate that by using lamps with a high colour reproduction / rendering index (Ra / Cri), generally less lamps need to be installed as reading and working falls easier under such lights ultimately saving cost and energy alike. Obvious cost savings, increased efficiency and productivity have been observed by:

  • Farmers, especially poultry farming

  • Zoo's and animal homes (especially parrots and birds)

  • Nurseries and green houses

  • Offices, hospitals and the retail industry

These are just a few examples where Viva-Lite® at this very moment and in many places around the world increases sales, saves money and energy while improving the overall health and state of mind of people working under artificial lights on a daily basis.

Are you one of them? K. Staniek: Twilight – Ecology of Artificial Brightness.

Whatever product you choose, lamps with the Viva-Lite® spectrum offer its customers a balanced source of light including a continual spectrum as possible, along with a colour reproduction as close to the sun as possible.

I scatter these Viva-Lite full spectrum lights throughout my house and aviary and use the Arcadia UVA/B lights strategically.

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