Best Light Therapy Lamps of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Digital Photo Editing & Small Appliance Writer
Updated
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We've reviewed light therapy lamps for the past three years. In our most recent evaluation, we compared 10 products looking for lights that provide at least 10,000 lux and that are simple to use, easy on the eyes and covered by decent warranties. We have determined that the Day-Light Sky is the best overall therapy lamp since it comes with a five-year warranty, uses glare-free technology and has a protective lens that filters out 99 percent of UV light to keep your skin and eyes safe.

Best Overall
Day-Light Sky
The Day-Light Sky allows you to choose between two different brightness levels and has a glare-free lens that blocks out 99 percent of UV rays to protect your face and eyes.
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Best Budget
Lightphoria
The Lightphoria is a power yet inexpensive light therapy lamp. It has a compact size and comes with a carrying bag, so it’s great to travel with.
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Best Portable
goLITE BLU
The goLITE BLU uses blue light, which creates the same effect as 10,000 lux. It is battery-powered, small and has a kickstand, which makes it easy to use when travelling.
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Best Overall
The Day-Light Sky works best as a permanent fixture on your table or desk. At 27 inches tall, it is large and somewhat bulky, which makes it difficult to travel with. At the same time, its large size allows you to move around a little more and still feel the effects of the lighting.
It is recommended that you use this light less than 2 feet from your face for it to be effective, which is typical for light therapy lamps. Fortunately, you can adjust the arm to help the light reach your face better. It offers two brightness levels so you can choose the brightest 10,000 lux setting in the mornings and use the softer lighting throughout the day. This is especially helpful since exposure to this bright light can make it difficult to sleep. The light is flicker free while the lens covering the light is glare free and helps block 99 percent of UV light to keep your skin and eyes safe. This lamp is covered by a five-year warranty, which isn't the best we've seen but also isn't the worst. This lamp does not use a battery so it must be plugged into a wall at all times, which can limit where you use it.
Pros
  • This lamp has a small base.
  • It features two brightness levels.
  • It has a glare-free lens.
Cons
  • It isn't very portable.
  • It’s large and bulky.
  • It isn't battery powered.
$146.38Amazon
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Best Budget
Lightphoria is a portable LED lamp that offers a brightness of 10,000 lux. It offers many of the same benefits of the top products while being a much more affordable option.
It comes with an AC adapter and a travel bag. While it is small enough to pack, it still requires an outlet for power, which makes it less convenient to travel with. There is a kickstand on the backside of the unit so you can easily prop it up wherever you are. You can choose between the low 5,000 lux, the medium 8,000 lux or the 10,000 lux setting depending on the time of day. It is recommended that you don't use the lamp in the late afternoon since this can affect your sleep levels. In addition to having buttons for three different light settings, this lamp also features three different timer options. You can choose for the light to automatically turn off after 15, 30 or 45 minutes to help save energy and to keep you from getting over-stimulated. Some users have reported that having the buttons so close to the light makes it difficult to see what the options are. The company covers this portable therapy lamp with a one-year warranty, which is shorter than many other lamps in our comparison but is also fitting considering the low price and small size of this unit.
Pros
  • This is the most affordable lamp in our comparison.
  • It has buttons for 15, 30 or 45-minute sessions.
  • It has two brightness settings.
Cons
  • It isn't cordless, which makes it less convenient to use when traveling.
  • It is only covered by a one-year warranty.
  • It's difficult to see the buttons since they are near the light.
$54.99Amazon
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Best Portable
The goLITE BLU features a rechargeable battery that can last for up to 60 minutes before needing a recharge. It is also small, measuring 5.63 inches wide and 5.63 inches tall.
It also has a built-in kickstand, which makes it a good traveling companion since it won't take up a lot of space in your bag and it can be used on most surfaces. Unlike the other lights in our comparison, this lamp uses blue light, which replicates the color of the sky and produces the same effects of 10,000 lux full spectrum light for people with seasonal affective disorder. It is UV free and does not generate heat, so you can feel better about using it. You can choose between five different light settings so you can find the brightness level that suits your needs. The only thing that is missing is a built-in clock and timer. As with most therapy lamps, it is recommended that you use it in the morning to early afternoon as usage later in the day can disrupt your sleeping patterns. Philips also offers a mobile app that allows you to create your own customized energy program and set reminders for your energy needs. You can also set goals and view your progress by tracking your moods and sessions.
Pros
  • The battery lasts for 60 minutes.
  • There are five brightness levels.
  • The kickstand allows you to set it up on any desk or table.
Cons
  • This light might make it difficult for you to sleep.
  • You cannot set a timer for your sessions.
  • There is no built-in clock.
$87.99Amazon
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Best Coverage
With a 10,000 lux lamp, the Verilux HappyLight has the same wide-spectrum sunshine simulating light of the best light therapy lamps, but the large surface area of the lamp provides exceptional coverage. The bulb of this sun lamp rests behind an opaque diffusing cover, protecting against overexposure. It comes with wall-mounting equipment, allowing it to be a permanent fixture in your home, but the kickstand on the back also makes it portable enough to take from room to room. One downside to keep in mind is the lack of light-intensity levels. With many other sun lamps, you can adjust the intensity, but with the HappyLight, the manual simply recommends adjusting your distance to the lamp. If you want to enhance your mood, sit closer to the lamp to soak in as much of the light as possible, moving farther away from the lamp as you feel over-stimulated.
Pros
  • Large bulb provides excellent light coverage.
Cons
  • Light can't be adjusted.
US$150Amazon
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Best Desk-Lamp
The Northern Light sun-therapy lamp is designed to look and function like a standard desk lamp, allowing you to soak in the light from the 10,000 lux bulbs as you work. The adjustable neck makes it easy to get the light exactly where you need it. However, the large size and awkward shape doesn't make it very portable. Despite the powerful 10,000 lux lightbulbs, this light therapy lamp only requires 80 watts of power to function, making it an energy efficient lamp you can use for long sessions. That said, some of the lights we reviewed are battery-powered, which makes for better portability and energy efficiency. The lamp head has two reflectors to even out the light output and keep it focused on a coverage area optimized for a desk. However, it lacks a diffuser, so the light may feel more intense than with some sun lamps.
Pros
  • Adjustable neck is ideal for desks.
Cons
  • Lacks a diffuser.
$177.27Amazon
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Why Trust Us 

While we didn't test light therapy lamps ourselves, we did dive into user reviews to find products that worked well and provided convenient features. Products whose reviews revealed massive manufacturer defects or safety concerns were removed from our comparison. As always, we sought to create an unbiased evaluation so we could truly determine which products were the best. To do this, we listed out each product's features and then compared them against each other. We especially wanted to make sure that our top pick was safe to use, easy to set up and offered extra convenience while being effective at treating seasonal affective disorder.

How Much Do Light Therapy Lamps Cost?

Smaller sun therapy lamps cost between $10 and $75 but may lack the necessary coverage you may require. In these cases, larger light therapy lamps provide better coverage and start at $150 and can reach upwards of $425. The only additional cost to consider is the replacement of the lightbulbs, which can vary between $6 and $52 per bulb, depending on the lamp. However, many sun therapy lamps have bulbs that are difficult, if not impossible, to replace. Fortunately, these lamps typically use energy-efficient LEDs expected to last more than 20 years.

How We Evaluated 

Since safety was such an important part of our evaluation, we scored lamps higher if they block UV rays and offer various light settings to protect your eyes. The more brightness settings it offers, the better the light scored. Since UVB lamps use UV rays, we gave more points if they offer protective eyewear, automatic-timed shutoff and safety tips. We did not evaluate products based on the light type or its cost, but we did note what kind of light source each lamp used and whether or not it was on the expensive side of things.

We also didn't score products based on whether they use a power cord or a rechargeable battery. However, we gave each product a portability rating, which was based on its power source, size and weight. Products with rechargeable batteries scored higher for portability since they are more convenient to use during travel. Additionally, large and bulky products scored lower in this category. We also paid attention to any convenience features the lights offer, like a kickstand or wall mounting capabilities. As might be expected, we gave more points to lamps that offer longer warranties and fewer points to products with shorter warranties.

Things to Consider About Light Therapy Lamps 

Light therapy lamps are typically most effective for fighting SAD, mood disorder and sleep conditions when they produce 10,000 lux, which is equivalent to full daylight. To get the most out of your lamp, you should make sure your face is within 2 feet of the light source during your session. Most lights will have glare-free and flicker-free lighting to keep your eyes safe. Here are a few more things to consider when choosing a light therapy lamp.

Lighting Types & Safety Tips

There are a few different lighting options when it comes to light therapy lamps. The most common are LED lights and full spectrum white lights, which usually have protective coverings that block 99 percent of UV rays to keep your skin and eyes safe. Light sessions with these lamps typically last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, which isn't terribly long but can be a long time if you are constantly on the go.

You can also find UVB lights, which do not block ultraviolet rays at all. For instance, Sperti Vitamin D uses ultraviolet B waves which can trigger vitamin D production within your body. Limited exposure to UVB isn't harmful, but if you leave these kinds of lamps on for too long they can burn your skin. Since these lamps aren't shielded by an opaque covering, you will also need to wear protective glasses during your sessions. These lamps tend to be more expensive, but the average light session only takes five minutes so you can go on with your day instead of staying still for long periods.

Blue light therapy is just what it sounds like. A lamp generates blue light that mimics the color of the sky. This lighting has been shown to be just as productive as 10,000 lux in treating SAD. These lights use less power than full-spectrum white light, but since it is blue light, it can also affect your sleeping patterns if used later in the day. These lights are UV free and are safe on eyes and skin.

Manufacturers and doctors recommend that you only do light therapy in the mornings or early afternoon since using them in the late afternoon can disrupt sleeping patterns.

Power Sources & Settings
As with most electric devices, light therapy lamps can either be battery powered or they can require an electrical outlet for power. It is far more common to find corded lamps, but these don't give you as much freedom as battery-powered options since you will need to be near an outlet while using it. Battery-powered lamps typically last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before needing a recharge, which can give you more freedom for your sessions but can also be frustrating when they run out of power at an inopportune moment.

Some lamps have built-in timers so they will run for a specified amount of time before automatically turning off. This is especially helpful since it can keep you from getting over-stimulated and disrupting your sleeping patterns.

Portability

The size and weight of a light therapy lamp greatly affects its portability. If you simply want to move it from room to room this isn't much of a problem. However, if you plan on transporting it to work and back or you want to take it with you while traveling, it should be lightweight and small. Travelers will especially appreciate small, battery-powered lamps since you can use them just about anywhere as long as they hold a charge. Most small lamps can fit easily into a purse or suitcase and have a kickstand on the backside so you can set them up on just about any surface.

Warranty
There is a lot of diversity when it comes to light therapy lamp warranties, so much so that we cannot give an average warranty length. The best we've seen is a lifetime warranty, but this is far from the norm. Fortunately, it isn't uncommon to find products that are covered for a respectable five to 10 years. The worst coverage for these kinds of lights is a year or less.