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Selecting the Right Light Therapy Lamp

What Should I Look for in a Light Therapy Box?

Looking for a therapy lamp? Our buyer's guide breaks down the necessities when considering your purchase.

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Choosing a light therapy box can be confusing if you're new to phototherapy light treatment. You have many choices when selecting a natural light lamp, so it's essential to know key specifications, features, and terms before doing so. Our light therapy lamp buying guide will walk you through the essentials of selecting a light therapy light. This includes what they are, how they work, how to choose a light therapy lamp, compare our lamps, and showcase each model.

What is a Light Therapy Lamp?

A bright light therapy lamp (also called a sunlight light, wellbeing lamp, light box therapy lamp, and more) is a specially designed light made to mimic sunlight.

These lights help replenish sunlight exposure. They are often used to treat light-related conditions such as:

  • Seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression),
  •  Insomnia
  • Jet lag 
  • And more.

How Does Phototherapy Work?

Light therapy is quite simple. It involves sitting in front of a light that mimics daylight each morning for 20 to 30 minutes. This tricks our body into producing two essential hormones: serotonin and melatonin.

Serotonin (which converts to melatonin) regulates mood, appetite, energy, sexual desire, and memory. Melatonin is vital to our sleep-wake cycle, known as our circadian rhythm.

By replenishing our access to sunlight via a sun lamp, we're able to regulate our hormone levels to have more energy, sleep better, and combat light-related health conditions.

How Does Phototherapy work?
Light Therapy Lamps vs. Regular Lamps: Light therapy lamps are 10,000 LUX - Indoor lighting is 200-500 LUX at home and 400 to 700 LUX at offices

Light therapy Lamps vs. REgular Lamps

A common misconception about bright light therapy is that regular lamps can be used to get the benefits. While yes, it does help your sleep-wake cycle to have adequate lighting in your home, you won't get all the benefits of a therapy lamp from a standard light. The proper therapy lamp produces 10000 LUX, and some have five to twenty times more LUX than standard lamps.

Why Use a Light Box?

It's been found that Americans spend 90% of their time indoors and away from sunlight. This means we don't get all the benefits of the sun to lead a healthy life. And during colder months, getting outside can be challenging.

These specialized lights are an excellent alternative to sunlight. They can treat various mental health conditions, including seasonal depression, anxiety, and insomnia. They can also be used for those who want to enhance their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. And because they're relatively safe, you don't have to worry about any harmful side effects.

TL/DR
  • Light therapy lamps are specialized lights designed to mimic sunlight.
  • They're used to replenish sun exposure and used to treat seasonal depression, insomnia, jet lag, and more.
  • They differ from standard lamps as they emit 5-20 times more LUX (light intensity).
  • They're used each morning for 20-30 minutes to trick the body into producing serotonin and melatonin.
  • They can help improve energy levels, enhance sleep quality, and relieve poor mental health.

How to Choose a Light Box

Before selecting a therapy lamp, it's essential to know what to look for when buying a light therapy lamp. There are many available options in which many do not meet the requirements to produce the benefits of light therapy effectively. This section will guide you through what to look for in a SAD lamp.

Medical vs. Wellness Grade Therapy Lamps - Medical Grade: Ideal for those with severe conditions, 10,000 LUX from 12

Your Condition

For those diagnosed with a health condition such as seasonal affective disorder, it's vital to get a clinical/medical rated SAD light therapy lamp. These lights are designed to give out the max amount of light for optimal results. If you only have minor issues, a health/wellness rated lamp will work as well. Consult your doctor if you have any questions/concerns.

  • Medical grade SAD lamps: These types of sun therapy lamps typically are larger, direct light downward from an upward position, and produce 10,000 LUX from 12" away.
  • Health/Wellness grade lights: These are made to treat milder conditions and are typically smaller, making them ideal for compact spaces. They may produce 10,000 LUX, but this is usually from 10", which may require sitting in front of them for longer than 30 minutes each morning.
Size - Consider a lamp's dimensions to fit in your surroundings

Where are You Putting Your Lamp?

Each of our lamps offers different dimensions and sizes for different areas. If the location you'll be putting your lamp in is compact, then you should consider one of our smaller models.

Smaller sun lamps for office use can help with more severe cases of seasonal depression. However, they will need to be sat in front of for more extended periods.

Lifestyle - If you travel often, a smaller lamp may be ideal.

Your Lifestyle

If you travel a lot, you'll need a portable light box for SAD. These are compact, which makes them easy to use anywhere and pack in luggage. If you struggle with jet lag often, then a smaller therapy lamp might be a must-have. They can help combat the adverse side effects of traveling to varying time zones.

Light angle

Light Angle

If you are placing your therapy lamp in a crowded space, you'll want a lamp that offers flexibility with an adjustable angle. This will give you the option to adjust accordingly to your area. If you're looking for a medical-grade light therapy lamp, it should point light down from an upward angle. This allows light to reach the top of your eyes, just like the sun does.

Light sensitivity

Light Sensitivity

If you are sensitive to light, you might want to consider one of our models that feature different light brightness settings. Some may struggle with a light that can only be on/off without customizing the light intensity.

Lamps with adjustable intensity also double as a standard desk lamp. You can use them for light therapy sessions and then turn them down as a task lamp.

10,000 LUX

LUX

Not to be confused with a lumen (which measures how much light a device emits), LUX is the amount of light a device produces on a given surface. For optimal treatment, it's essential to have a 10 000 LUX light therapy lamp. Anything less may require longer treatments and not provide the same effectiveness.

Color temperature - Warmer colors promote comfort and cooler colors promote alterness

Color Temperature

A critical area often considered when selecting a SAD lamp is blue or white color. The color temperature of light refers to its "warmth" or "coolness." This is measured in kelvin (K).

Warmer lights, around 1,000 K, promote comfort and have a calming effect. Cooler lights, around 10,000 K, promote alertness. White lights, on the other hand, are in the 5,000 to 7,000 K range. These promote alertness but are easier on the eyes. You'll notice most offices use lights in this color temperature range.

Light spectrum - Full spectrum light: 380-730 nm, safer, less effective - Blue spectrum light: 380-500 nm, can be harmful to eyes, more effective

Light Spectrum

A significant aspect to consider is the light spectrum a lamp uses. Therapy lamps typically produce blue or full-spectrum light therapy.

While blue light has been proven to be more effective than full-spectrum lamps in treating SAD and low energy levels, it can be harmful to the eyes. This is especially true if the user is on any medications. Full-spectrum light boxes use traces of blue light but are much safer to use.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light Protection

Ultraviolet (UV) Light Protection

Many types of light produce ultraviolet light (UV). UV light is an invisible type of light that sits between visible light and X-ray on the electromagnetic spectrum.

While UV light has many uses, extensive exposure can cause skin damage. Because of this, it's vital to select a UV-free light therapy lamp. The proper 10000 LUX light will feature a built-in filter that keeps UV from reaching the user.

LED or Fluorescent? LED is safer, energy efficient, durable, and longer lasting

LED or Fluorescent

Older 10000 LUX energy light lamps tend to use fluorescent bulbs. They have since then been replaced with LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. LEDs are notoriously safer, more energy-efficient & durable, and last much longer compared to fluorescent bulbs.

If you're considering purchasing an older used model that uses fluorescent bulbs, it's important to note that they will need to be replaced much quicker than LED models.

Extra freatures - Wireless phone charger, USB port, alarm clock

Additional Features

There are many SAD light specifications to consider from. One area you might be interested in is additional features. Newer lamps may feature extra features such as a:

  • Wireless phone charger
  • USB port
  • Alarm clock
  • And more.

These features can further enhance the user experience.

Product warranty with a 90-day return policy

Brand Return Policy & Warranty

As with any product, purchasing from a trusted brand is important. Any trustworthy brand will have a return policy and warranty in place for its customers. And because light therapy can be a critical tool for getting through winter, it's especially important to make sure you purchase through a brand with a return policy and warranty that protects your purchase. Consider these questions:

  • What happens if I end up not liking the product, can I return it?
  • What is the length of the return policy?
  • What does the return process look like? Is it convenient?
  • What happens if the product breaks? Is there a warranty in place?
  • How long is the warranty and what's covered under it?

Our Day-Light lamps come with a five-year warranty and our TheraLite lamps come with a one-year warranty. Each warranty covers the lamp under normal use should it malfunction or break.

Additionally, we offer a 90-day return policy. If our lamps don't live up to your expectations or you realize you have no use for them, you can return it within 90-days of purchase.

TL/DR
  • Before purchasing a lamp, it's important to consider a few factors.
  • If you've been diagnosed with seasonal depression, it's important to choose a medical-grade lamp. These are larger in size.
  • If your condition is mild to moderate, a smaller wellness grade lamp will suffice.
  • Your living space will also dictate your decision. Smaller spaces may require a smaller lamp.
  • If you travel often, you'll need a portable lamp.
  • A lamp with a flexible angle is ideal to direct the light toward your eyes.
  • If you are sensitive to light, a lamp with adjustable brightness may be ideal.
  • Be sure to check the light's LUX output. 10,000 LUX is the ideal output. Anything lower may require longer treatments.
  • Color temperature will dictate the effect of the lamp. Warmer lights, around 1,000 K, promote comfort and have a calming effect. Cooler lights, around 10,000 K, promote alertness. 
  • Most lamps emit either blue or full-spectrum light. Blue light is more effective but can be harmful to the eyes. Full-spectrum light uses traces of blue and is much safer.
  • A lamp with a UV filter is vital. UV exposure can cause skin damage.
  • Avoid lamps using fluorescent bulbs. LEDs last longer, are safer, last longer, and are energy efficient. 
  • Some lamps come with additional perks such as a wireless phone charger, alarm clock, USB port, and more.
  • Warranty and return policies are another key component to look for.

SAD Light Comparison Chart

Below, you'll find our complete collection of full-spectrum lights for SAD. All of our lamps provide safe and effective full-spectrum light therapy at 10000 LUX. We offer a wide variety of full-spectrum sun lamps in different sizes, shapes, and distinct features. Our Day-Light and TheraLite brands have been a trusted leader of full-spectrum light box therapy and featured in numerous publications.

Light Therapy Lamp Recommendations & Reviews

Each of our therapy lamps has been designed to help boost the amount of sunlight one gets as well as match different lifestyles, spaces, and more. We've collected reviews and recommendations on each to give you a better idea of how each is being used.

Our Lights Have Been Rated as "Top Therapy Lamps" by

Men's Journal
Carex Day-Light Classic Plus Light Therapy Lamp

DAY-LIGHT CLASSIC PLUS

OUR #1 SELLER

The Day-Light Classic Plus is our #1 selling light therapy lamp because of it's large face, sleek design, and effectiveness. This therapy lamp is best for those with mild-severe symptoms.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Designed on Clinical Recommendations

"The Carex Day-Light Classic Plus meets all of the criteria necessary to be considered therapeutically effective and safe, and it’s cheaper than many of its competitors."
- New York Times

Adjustable Height & Angle

"The adjustability is a big plus as it allows for the optimal lamp angle that helps with eye strain. I am recommending this light to my friends and family."
- Russell Nichols

Brightness/Intensity

"Intensely bright, the Carex Day-Light Light Therapy Lamp was even more effective than our best overall pick. Our tester felt a big boost in energy every time she used it, which earned it a perfect score of 5 out of 5 for our energy-boosting effect rating."
- VeryWell Mind

Carex Day-Light Sky Light Therapy Lamp

DAY-LIGHT SKY

OUR CONTEMPORARY DESIGN

The Day-Light Sky is our more sleek and stylish light therapy lamp with a slightly smaller screen. Like the Classic Plus, it's best for those with mild-severe symptoms.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Easy on the Eyes

"The light it gives off is very bright, but not harsh to the eyes. It does give the feel of sunlight which is very pleasant when stuck at a desk for most of the day whether it be for work or school."
- Amazon Review

Adjustable Height & Angle

"The long neck on this lamp allows for optimal swivel action, so you can reap BLT benefits while doing a multitude of morning activities."
- Prevention.com

Two Light Settings

"It is a great task light when used on the lower light level. The white light, with no glare or flicker, means it is amazing for craft or detailed orientated work."
- ShineaLightonSAD.com

THERALITE AURA

Our #1 Selling Health/Wellness Lamp

The TheraLite Aura is our #1 selling health/wellness therapy lamp. It's tall, angled design makes it optimal for overhead light therapy and its four light settings gives the user control over their treatment intensity.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Design & Quality

"I've used other therapeutic lights but I love this one the most due to its high quality, adjustable settings, and overall design. I'm a big believer in using bright light therapy for mood, and I look forward to using this light each morning."
- Dyane Harwood

Warmth

"The light is much warmer than that of other LED models and its use of a more traditional angled-down design distributes the light over a broader surface area, creating an overall brighter effect."
- Lisa Rosenthal

Budget Friendly

"For a more budget-friendly option, Paxton recommends the TheraLite Aura. It has four light settings that can effectively support a healthy circadian rhythm and comes in at less than $70"
- Mind Body Green

TheraLite 10,000 LUX Mood and Energy Enhancing Bright Light Therapy Lamp

THERALITE COMPACT

ADJUSTABLE HEAD

The TheraLite Mood & Energy Enhancing Therapy Lamp features a fully customizable angle with the ability to set it vertically or horizontally. 

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Adjustable Head

"I like that you can adjust the angle of the stand, change the height of the light and rotate the light between portrait and landscape orientations."
- CNET

Energy Saving Technology

"The energy-saving LED technology is especially for all sustainability enthusiasts who want the best out of their lamps without damaging the environment."
- SADLampUSA.com

Brightness

"This light is bright and I mean BRIGHT it is like you are sitting on the surface of the sun!"
- Nancy Gibson

Carex SunLite Light Therapy Lamp

CAREX SUNLITE

MINIMALISTIC

The Carex SunLite was made with compact spaces in mind. It provides a small footprint for confined spaces and makes an excellent natural light desk lamp.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Simplicity

“If I wanted to try light therapy but wasn't sure where or how to get started, this would be a reasonable option, because it's not too expensive and it’s very simple to use."
- VeryWell Mind

Compact Size

"The compact and light size can make it a suitable option for the commercial environment, and its 3.25 lbs make it easier to travel with."
- SADLampUSA.com

Even Light Distribution

"It has a white diffusing lens that helps evenly distribute the light and minimize glare. It also doubles as a desk lamp."
- Well + Good

TheraLite Aura Qi Light Therapy Lamp

THERALITE AURA QI

TECH-HEAVY AURA UPGRADE

The Aura Qi is everything great about the original Aura, with more. It produces the same 10,000 LUX to be effective and is upgraded with new features including an alarm clock and thermostat, wireless phone charger, and USB port. Set it up next to your bed to wake up with light therapy.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Light Softness

“I like how it will light up a room and not make you feel blinded or even hot. It's a very soft light and it will give out enough sunshine when you need it."
-  Samuel Anderson

Added Technology

"I love that it has multiple functions like an alarm clock, USB charger ad also shows date and temperature! The light itself is really easy to use because of the touch buttons. It's been a life saver for sure!"
- Amanda

Doubles as a Task Lamp

"The Theralite Aura Bright Light Therapy Lamp is such a great versatile therapy lamp. I have a few therapy lamp but what’s great about this one is that not only it can be used as a desk/night table lamp."
- K.D.

TheraLite Radiance Light Therapy Lamp

THERALITE RADIANCE

TECH-HEAVY & COMPACT

For those looking for a distinctive look in a portable light therapy lamp, the TheraLite Radiance offers just that. Its slim design quickly folds up for travel or storage and it features an alarm clock, wireless phone charger, and USB port.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Size

"I bought this as a gift for my daughter who is now working from home. With meetings starting early and ending late she is missing any daylight time. This lamp is the perfect solution. It is small enough to be on her desk, provides the much needed light therapy for those of us here in New England with all the gray days and was very reasonably priced."
- Erin Pendexter Stone

Versatility/Multifunctional

"For multitaskers who want to get healed with natural light while working away at their desk, this multifunctional therapy lamp is worth considering. It’s packed with a wireless charging station, an alarm clock, and a USB port, and you can fold it up. All these features combined with a brightness level of 10,000 LUX make Radiance ideal for WFH people who suffer from sunlight deprivation and enjoy healing as much as hustling away for that paycheck."
- Esquire

Intensity

"Bought for those rainy chicago days and the light intensity is great. Feels like an actual mini sun along with the wireless charging and clock is the best of all worlds"
- Omar

TheraLite Halo Bright Light Therapy Lamp

THERALITE HALO

TECH-HEAVY & COMPACT

For those looking for a distinctive look in a portable light therapy lamp, the TheraLite Radiance offers just that. Its slim design quickly folds up for travel or storage and it features an alarm clock, wireless phone charger, and USB port.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Style

"Looking for a stylish lamp? Look no further than the awesome Theralite Halo Bright Light Therapy Lamp, which not only aids in sleep regulation but also enhances the appearance of your workspace. In addition, it is compact, portable, and completely safe to use, which make it an excellent choice for all the beginners out there."
- SADLampsUSA.com

Versatility/Multifunctional

"If you're after a multi-functional light therapy lamp, this desk lamp from Theralite has a wireless phone charging base. There is also a USB port to charge other devices at the back. There are four brightness levels to choose from and it emits 10,000 lux of light."
- Your Home Style

Downward Light Angle

"What I really like about these lights is that it gives me a full spectrum light that shines down to my work and not up to my eyes. I have one of the standard types of full spectrum lights that shine up into my face but I find that really annoying. This shines down on my work, lights up my whole area, and fills my office with beautiful full spectrum light. I wish I had them much earlier."
- Daniel Boone

TheraLite Glow Small Light Therapy Lamp with Timer

TheraLite Glow

HANGS UP

The TheraLite Glow is our newest compact light therapy lamp. Made for smaller spaces, the Glow features an adjustable intensity, hangs up to save even more space, and has an adjustable timer that auto-shuts off. If you're tight on space or travel frequently, the TheraLite Glow is our best small light therapy lamp.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Size

"This light is very bright, lightweight, and easy to use. It could be packed in luggage and used for travel, or hung on your wall at home. It seems to help with waking me up in the morning, but it will be quite a few months before I know how well it helps my winter mood. You can also dim the light if you just need an extra light source for working."
- Baby Sloth, Amazon Review

Brightness

"Wow! I must say, it's very Bright 😎 and I can't wait until the season change so I can get the full use of it. The timer function works easy and well. So easy to use,I really liked it when I plugged it in. Going to be a great investment for your family ❤️ and money. No more Winter ❄️ blue's."
-  Sandral Pinson, Amazon Review

Hangs Up

"I loved having the option of hanging it on the wall because at eye level it's too hard on my eyes even when I'm in a moderately sized room."
-  How'd That Pet Hair Get There, Amazon Review

Bright Health 360°

Emits Light from A 360° ANGLE

The Bright Health 360° is our most distinct design to date. This therapy lamp emits light from every angle, making it look like a standard house lamp. It's available in 14" or 24" heights and features four light settings for all-day use.

Favorite Features

According to Reviews

Size/Brightness

"The light even on the brightest setting no where near feels like I'm in a grocery store or anything of the such. I truly love how large it is - I can say it's made a wonderful difference in my overall mental health while at home working."
- Normie

Style

"It is stylish in a modern way, is great for crafting and painting, I know as I used it today for that, and is very portable! It is a product I love and recommend so far and you may, too!"
- Color Me Pizzazz

360° Illumination

"This is my first experience with a light that is 360 degrees and is big enough to provide light throughout an entire room so that you can just turn it on and have a sense of sunlight exposure without specifically sitting by the light. This was a big plus point for me as I don't tend to sit in one place for long periods of time."
- Color Me Pizzazz

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I buy a light therapy box?

You can find our entire collection of therapy lamps here or on Amazon. Our lights are designed based on expert recommendations to produce 10,000 LUX.

About the Author

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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