Pros / It has a 12-inch 10,000-lux reach.
Cons / It's very large.
Verdict / The Day-Light Sky has the best coverage and brightest light, and it’s the most adjustable light therapy lamp I reviewed. It also costs less than lamps with similar performance.
Made by Uplift Technologies, the Day-Light Sky is one of the largest light therapy lamps you can buy for less than $200. It features large, UV-filtered, 55-watt fluorescent bulbs designed to deliver a warm natural light at two brightness settings: high brightness for therapy sessions and soft light for everyday use.
In my tests, this lamp tied with the Sunbox Sunlight Jr as the brightest lamp with the best coverage – both had the same 10,000-lux reach and coverage. And while the Sunlight Jr had slightly better luminous intensity, the Day-Light Sky is my pick for the best light therapy lamp overall because it's more affordable, has unparalleled adjustability and doesn't get as hot.
We ordered and reviewed light therapy lamps that cost under $200. You can certainly find more powerful lights at higher prices, but these are good starters. If you find light therapy really helps improve your seasonal affective disorder, then it might be worth it to invest in a lamp with a longer lux reach and greater coverage.
The Day-Light Sky costs about $100, which makes its exceptional performance stand out in comparison to lamps like the Sunbox Sunlight Jr, which costs almost $200. You can find more affordable and smaller lamps, but they aren't as effective and don't provide the necessary coverage.
Light Therapy Performance
Lamp brightness diminishes quickly the further you get from the source. You can lean back in your chair just a few inches and receive thousands less lux of light than you were before. So while almost every lamp I tested is a 10,000-lux light therapy lamp, the difference in the how far this brightness reaches is significant. The Day-Light Sky's 10,000-lux reach is 12 inches. This still puts it 4 inches short of the recommended minimum distance for a comfortable session – sitting even 12 inches from a lamp feels uncomfortably close.
However, when you consider the average 10,000-lux distance in the test was 6 inches, with several lamps reaching only 2 inches, the Day-Light Sky's performance is impressive. In addition, you can still sit a comfortable distance from the lamp and benefit from light therapy without the full 10,000 lux of light – it just means your sessions may have to be longer than 20 to 30 minutes.
The Day-Light Sky’s biggest downside is its size. Not only is it the biggest lamp I reviewed, but it is also on an adjustable arm. Because of this, it takes up a lot of space and is unwieldy to move if you want to take it from room to room. However, this is a very minor complaint, and the advantages of its size outweigh the drawbacks of using a large lamp. For example, the light’s coverage is exceptional as is its luminous intensity. As such, its light’s brightness covers more area than that of other lamps at this price point.
The Day-Light Sky has a color temperature of 4,000 Kelvin. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics, an organization of experts on environmental therapy, recommends light therapy lamps have a color temperature between 3,000 and 5,000 Kelvin because this range best replicates a blue sky. At this wavelength, the light has a warm glow that's safer on the eyes than a higher temperature, which is closer to blue light.
In addition to having a functional brightness setting and a therapy brightness setting, the Day-Light Sky's vertical and angular adjustability is unmatched. The lamp, which is on the end of an extendable arm, has two adjustable pivot points. You can move it vertically and adjust the angle of the light upward or downward to fit your situation. Most of the light therapy lamps I reviewed can only adjust between 15 and 30 degrees, with very little flexibility to shift from upward angles to downward angles. This lamp’s adjustability and coverage area make it easy to sit comfortably while still benefiting from your light therapy sessions.
In addition, it’s easy to replace its bulbs when they burn out. The manufacturer says the bulbs are 99.3-percent UV-free. I tested this using a UV sensitive card, which changes color when exposed to UV radiation. After an hour under the light, it didn't change color at all, but the second I took the card outside (on a rainy day), it changed color. I'm confident you won’t be exposed to UV radiation.
Safety & Power
After 30 minutes, the lamp's surface was 122 degrees Fahrenheit – warm enough to the touch that you want to be careful handling it after a session, though not nearly as hot as other lamps. For example, the Verilux HappyLight Full-Size reached 149.5 degrees and the Aura Daylight reached 144 degrees. That said, when I aimed the Day-Light Sky at a wall for 30 minutes from 16 inches away, it increased the wall’s surface temperature more than other lamps did – 2 degrees. This increase is considerable and felt more intensely on the skin. So it's possible to feel uncomfortably hot after a session, but since there's no UV light, the lamp won’t burn or damage your skin.
The best way to treat seasonal affective disorder is to expose yourself to sunlight, and the Day-Light Sky is a better substitute for natural sunlight than other light therapy lamps under $200. Its brightness, coverage, color temperature, adjustability and price make it the best light therapy lamp.