Answering emails, reading crucial documents, taking notes, and other tasks require task illumination, which is provided by desk lamps. You could be the kind to buy a light simply on the basis of its appearance, but there are additional elements to consider while looking for a desk lamp. Consider illumination kind, light temperature and brightness, and range of movement when choosing your ideal lamp.
I spoke with an ophthalmologist, ergonomists, and engineers to identify the best desk lamp, and I used their advice to reduce my search to seven top-rated options. I put each one to the test for several days, evaluating its design, performance, ease of use, and extra features.
Here are the best lamps we suggest:
BenQ e-Reading LED Swing-Arm Desk Lamp
Cons: A large frame may not be appropriate for tiny rooms.
- 10 pound, 23.22 x 8.66 x 24.61 inch dimensions
- 50,000 hours of LED life
- Adjustable brightness (900 lumens, 1,800 lux)
- 12 color temperature options (2,700 K to 5,700 K)
- 18 watts of power
- One-year warranty
The BenQ e-Reading LED Swing-Arm Desk Lamp has a sleek appearance and offers a wide range of motion, as well as customizable brightness and temperature settings.
The BenQ e-Reading LED Swing-Arm Desk Lamp stands out because it is substantially larger than the other desk lamps we evaluated, extending vertically up to 30 inches. The lamp’s head pivots in any direction thanks to a ball joint, and the arm rotates 360 degrees on the base, making this lamp incredibly adaptable. Despite its relatively complicated appearance, the light was really simple to put together.
In comparison to the other desk lights I tested, the light’s head is just over 15 inches long and casts a greater illuminating coverage. It lighted my entire 56-inch-wide desk with ease. My customary overhead light was rarely required.
The BenQ Desk Lamp’s brightness and color temperature may be adjusted quickly and easily. You can alter the color temperature of the light to 12 distinct settings by pressing and turning the dial on the light’s head, which is the most of any lamp we examined.
The lamp also contains an ambient light sensor, which means it adjusts its brightness automatically to match your surroundings. I have to make minor adjustments to these settings from time to time. Furthermore, the BenQ Lamp offers an e-reading mode that helps reduce glare when reading on a computer screen.
Although this 18-watt lamp isn’t Energy Star certified, it does have an energy-saving LED panel. The lights provide consistent flicker-free illumination to decrease eye strain and create an astonishing 1,800 lux. Even as I adjusted the arms, I never worried about it tipping over, despite the fact that it was the heaviest lamp we examined.
AmazonBasics Dual Head LED Desk Lamp
Cons: Changing the brightness level is difficult.
While its capabilities are limited in comparison to other desk lamps, the AmazonBasics Dual Head LED Desk Lamp provides reliable service at a reasonable price.
- LED lifetime: 50,000 hours Dimensions: 6.7 x 6.7 x 14.57 inches, 1.03 pounds
- Dimmable (>180 lumens) brightness
- There are three color temperature options (2,700 K to 4,500 K)
- 5.5 watts of power
The AmazonBasics Dual Head LED Desk Lamp is a small but functional alternative if you’re searching for an economical lamp that ticks all the boxes. It stands between 13 and 15 inches tall, depending on how the adjustable gooseneck is angled.
The compact lamp has a split-head design and is ready to use right out of the box. When the halves of the head are put together, the light is strong and focused, but you may split them apart for more diffused lighting that covers a greater area. The dual-head design is also positioned on a flexible gooseneck that can be rotated almost 360 degrees and brought closer to your work surface.
The AmazonBasics Lamp is equipped with 48 energy-saving LED bulbs. The base has a button that allows you to choose between three different color modes: natural, white, and yellow light. By keeping your finger on the power button, you can adjust the brightness level. Because the sensor isn’t sensitive enough, it was difficult to get the brightness exactly where I wanted it.
A 40-minute timer is the only other feature this lamp has. It’s a simple lamp with a simplistic design that performs well and would be a great addition to a student’s desk or other modest work locations.
Dyson Lightcycle Morph
Cons: Expensive, difficult to use physical controls, and app requires your location for full performance.
The Dyson Lightcycle Morph adjusts its brightness and light temperature according on your specific location throughout the day, reducing eye strain.
- 7.7 pounds, dimensions: 20.6 x 16.3 x 7.8 inches
- 181,000 hours of LED life
- Adjustable brightness (850 lumens, 1,546 lux)
- Temperature range: 2,700 K to 6,500 K
- 11.2 watts watts watts watts watts watts watts
- Five-year warranty
It’s typical to develop signs of eye strain, such as aching or fatigued eyes and headaches, after working at a desk all day. Adjusting the lighting temperature throughout the day, according to Benjamin Bert, MD, an ophthalmologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, can assist reduce eye strain.
My inquiry turned up a few lamps with auto-adjusting dimmers, but the Dyson Lightcycle Morph met our testing criterion. This Energy Star-certified smart desk light adjusts its warmth and brightness based on your precise location throughout the day.
During my testing, I was impressed that the lamp adjusted its settings to fit my surroundings, and I never felt tired. Every 60 seconds, it makes near-constant micro-adjustments. However, in order for the lamp to accomplish this, you must provide the Dyson Link app permission to access your location.
The Dyson Lightcycle Morph features the slick modern look that you’d expect from the brand, but its 7.7 pound weight startled me. The lamp’s vertical stem rotates 360 degrees, and the upper half of its horizontal arm may be twisted to direct the light sideways or upward for ambient illumination. When the arm is repositioned over the lamp’s base, the stem is illuminated, generating a soft ambient light that reduces blue light.
From the top of the lamp’s arm, you can change the lamp’s warmth and brightness, but these settings are a little hard to use. I found it much easier to change the bulb using the Dyson Link app, which also lets you remember unique brightness and warmth settings for different occasions and even your age. When you leave and enter the room, the Lightcycle Morph automatically turns off and on.
Cons: It has a cheesy appearance, the nightlight is overly bright, and the clock is difficult to program.
Both a universal phone dock and a wireless charging pad are included in the Lumicharge II.
- Size: 7 x 7 x 15.8 inches, weight: 3 lbs
- 60,000 hours of LED life
- 10 levels of brightness (700 lumens)
- Three modes of color temperature (3,000 K to 8,000 K)
- wattage: wattage: wattage: wattage: wattage:
- 6 months warranty
A number of the lamps we tested, such as those from TaoTronics, Pablo, and Lumicharge, have the capacity to charge iPhones. The Lumicharge II stood out among the three. A wireless Qi-enabled pad, universal phone dock, and USB port are among the charging options.
The Lumicharge requires no assembly and features an adjustable arm with a wide range of motion. The arm may be tilted 120 degrees up or 90 degrees side to side, and the stem can rotate 145 degrees. The lamp features LED bulbs that are protected by a plastic diffuser, which helps to soften the light. During testing, I had no problems adjusting the light to my desired brightness levels, and it never gave me any eye strain or pain.
This lamp contains a “charging dial” in the base that you can rotate to access three different types of chargers: lightning, micro-USB, and USB-C chargers. You may also use the wireless charging pad to charge your smartphone, albeit I had to remove my phone case first.
Other notable features of the Lumicharge II include a digital display on the arm that indicates the time, date, and temperature. While the concept is intriguing, I found the display to be difficult to operate and outdated in look. The blocky, vintage numbers didn’t appear to fit in. The lamp also had a motion-activated nightlight, however it was way too bright and would dazzle my eyes in the dark.
Finally, despite its $100 price tag, the Lumicharge, while functional in every way, has a poor, plasticky appearance.
TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp
Short range of motion, stiff hinges are some of the drawbacks.
Cons: Short, limited range of motion, stiff hinges
The TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp combines a nightlight and wireless phone charging, making it ideal for dorm rooms and other tiny places.
- Size: 16.93 x 7.09 x 7.09 inches, weight: 4.85 pounds
- 7 levels of brightness (400 lumens)
- 5 modes of color temperature (2,700 K to 6,500 K)
- 12 watts of power
- One-year warranty
Despite its modest cost, the TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp performed admirably. It didn’t take any setup other than plugging it in and is portable. The lamp is one of the tiniest we tested, and its small size and built-in nightlight make it ideal for dorm dorms.
A touch-activated bar on the lamp’s base allows you to adjust the brightness level. The “M” button controls five different color options. There’s also a wireless charging ring for Apple and Samsung phones, although it only functioned when I took my iPhone X out of the case.
The stem of the TaoTronics Desk Lamp revolves 180 degrees at the base, and the arm tilts up or down 180 degrees on its hinge – not terrible, but not great. The hinges, on the other hand, were pretty stiff, and I had to hold the lamp’s base down to keep it from moving while I adjusted the arm.
My desktop PC, which stands roughly 20 inches tall, couldn’t be used with the lamp since it was too short. Because I had to tilt my arm upward, and the LED lights were so bright when they shone directly into my eyes, it occasionally caused eye strain. Because the arm could stay tilted downward when I was using a laptop, the lamp performed considerably better – another reason we think it’s better suited for compact desk settings.
Other features include a USB connector for charging electronics on the TaoTronics Desk Lamp. It also includes a 60-minute automatic shut-off timer, and the lamp remembers your settings and defaults to them when you switch it on again.
Methodology for testing
I’ve been a product reviewer for four years, so I drew on that knowledge to create a complete testing technique for household products, including lamps. Benjamin Bert, MD, an ophthalmologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center; Blake McGowan, director of ergonomics research at VelocityEHS; and Matthew Thorpe, a senior sales engineer at Fagerhult Lighting in London, were among the specialists I consulted.
With their help, I came up with a list of important characteristics to consider, and from there, I was able to choose which desk lamps to test. Hundreds of desk lamps are available for purchase, but the lamps chosen match the requirements mentioned below.
I evaluated several crucial elements when testing these desk lamps, including their range of motion, brightness levels, and ease of control. I utilized each one in my home office for at least two full workdays, taking into account the following:
- Ease of assembly: I unboxed and assembled each lamp after receiving it, noting whether the process was unclear or challenging in any manner.
- Size and shape: The lamps I examined come in a variety of forms and sizes, and after a few days of use, I evaluated if the lamp’s design was useful for tasks such as taking notes, working on a computer, and reading papers.
- Eye strain: At the end of each workday, I recorded whether or not I had suffered any eye strain as a result of using the lamp, and whether or not I needed to alter the light in any manner to avoid it. Eye strain can cause eye pain, headaches, light sensitivity, and other symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Brightness: Because preferences fluctuate depending on whether you want a brighter or softer lamp, I made a point of noting the lumens/lux emitted by each for comparison. Because this measurement wasn’t specified for every product, I also tested the light at its highest and lowest settings to see if it was sufficient for detail-oriented work, ambient lighting, and other uses.
- Our experts suggested selecting for lights with a range of mobility so that you may alter the light’s position for different tasks. I evaluated how far and in which directions the stem and head could be adjusted for each lamp, as well as how easy it was to make these modifications.
- Automatic timers, wireless charging of electronics, and night lights were all featured in the majority of the lamps we tested. I put all of these features to the test to see how useful they were and whether they were just a gimmick.
What else did we try?
While writing this article, we tried out a few more desk lamps. Here’s what we tried that didn’t make the cut for our top picks.
What we suggest
Pablo Pixo Plus: With its sleek form and vast selection of color options, the Pablo Pixo Plus has a gorgeous modern design and is clearly the most aesthetically pleasing desk light we evaluated. However, in terms of functionality, it left plenty to be desired. The stem may rotate 180 degrees, however it simply travels side to side, comparable to a windshield wiper. Although the lamp’s head can spin 360 degrees, I found it difficult to get it into a comfortable position without putting it on the desk sideways. Furthermore, while the 325-lumen light can be dimmed, the control mechanism is difficult to use. It entails placing your finger over a little sensor on the lamp’s head, and it never stopped at the desired brightness. Even yet, if a sleek design and wireless charging are important to you, this lamp is a good option.
What we don’t advise
While the Luxe Lamp Cordless Desk Lamp is excellent for specific applications, it is far too small to be used as a desk lamp. Its flexible arm can rotate 180 degrees, but it’s only 15 inches long, so bending it over to focus the light puts it less than a foot away from the desk. If you don’t have access to an outlet, the lamp’s cordless design is convenient, and the lamp’s 28 energy-efficient LED bulbs allow it to run for three or more hours each charge. The overall design, on the other hand, is more suited to little jobs that require you to be close to the work surface, such as sketching.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Desk Lamp
Although purchasing a desk lamp may not appear to be a difficult endeavor, there are several things to consider when choosing the ideal one for your needs. The following are the most significant considerations, as indicated by our specialists and based on my own research and experience.
Maximum range of motion: All of the specialists contacted for this guide agreed that adjustable lighting are essential, and the greater the range of motion, the better. Lamps should be able to “be positioned to exclude glare on the work table, keyboard, input display, computer display, or other equipment,” according to McGowan. When needed, a lamp’s light source may be moved closer to paper or other objects thanks to its wide range of motion.
Color temperature and brightness: Eye strain can be caused by prolonged computer use, but adequate lighting can assist to mitigate the effects. “Our behaviors cause a lot of eye strain,” Bert explains. “We blink less when we work or read on a computer. Our eyes become drier and dryer as the day goes on, which is the equivalent of countless tiny staring contests with our computer screen throughout the day. It’s been proven that having the right color spectrum can help with our sleep/wake cycle, as well as weariness and eye strain.”
It’s a good idea to look for a light that has brightness settings and varied light temps, so you can change the color spectrum throughout the day: “You might want to use a full spectrum LED light in the middle of the day to replicate the color spectrum of the sun,” Bert suggests. “However, in the evening, you’ll want to utilize a light with a warmer spectrum and less high-energy blue wavelengths.”
Efficiency in terms of energy: If you’ll be using a lamp all day, choose an energy-efficient one to save money. Fortunately, LED bulbs, which consume less energy and last far longer than incandescent lights, are used in the majority of today’s desk lamps. You should also opt for a light that is Energy Star-certified, as these must use 90% less energy than regular incandescent light bulbs.
When not diffused, however, LEDs may be hard on the eyes: “Good quality LEDs are fantastic for energy savings and longevity when compared to traditional lights or fluorescents, but please consider optical comfort,” Thorpe adds. “Because bare LEDs are an exceptionally bright point source that emits a lot of light from a tiny area, seek for a well-made fitting with a diffuser to regulate the light.”
Extra features include: Many desk lamps come with extra functionality, such as phone charging ports. If you’re looking for a phone charger, check sure it’ll work with your specific phone model – some only work with the most recent iPhones and Androids.
What is the best way to place a desk lamp?
The way you place a light on your desk might effect whether or not you get eye strain, so choose a spot where the bulb won’t reflect off your computer screen, according to our experts. “It’s recommended to have the light given by the desk lamp be equivalent to the brightness of the backlit screen and be largely aimed behind the screen if you’re using a desk lamp in conjunction with a backlit screen (tablet, laptop, or desktop computer),” Bert adds.
“You don’t want the desk lamp to reflect off a glass screen,” he advises. “Additional glare from the reflection can worsen eye strain. As a result, it’s sometimes better to place the light behind your computer, but it should be easily movable if you need it in front of printed materials.”
Our experts recommend that you set up your workstation in a room with plenty of natural light, which is easy on the eyes and will supplement the light produced by your lamp throughout the day.
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