Categories
BLOG

northern lights sadd

Northern Light Technologies USA

We have a wide range of products that will bring light into your life and help you overcome the Winter Blues and other problems arising from a lack of light. Our lamps can achieve light levels comparable to outdoor lighting in the spring.

Kickstarter Kit 2.1 (TRAVelite + Lumie Bodyclock Shine 300)

Kickstarter Kit 2.0 (TRAVelite + Lumie Bodyclock Glow 150)

LiteUP

BOXelite Desk Lamp

Our growth has been due to our uncompromising customer service, and exceptional product quality. All our bright light units are manufactured in North America. We have a wide range of products that will bring light into your life and help you overcome the Winter Blues and other problems arising from a lack of light. Thousands of clinicians around the world recommend our units. We have participated in the annual meeting of American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the SLTBR (Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms) conferences for the past 20 years. Get one of our 10,000 Lux light therapy units to have a happy and brighter winter.

Feel Bright Light Visor

I’ve had mine for years. I start wearing mine every morning before we go back to Standard Time and wear it all winter. In this age of the Covid-19 pandemic, when stress, isolation, and fear are constants, and depression is exponentially intense, this is a life-saver. Portable Easy to wear Easy to maintain

LUXOR Desk Lamp

Early November and it’s blasting photons from my desk as I type this from a state not known for pleasant winters. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, light in your eyes really helps the spirit. It’s not too bright, and there’s not enough UV to get my transitions eyeglass lenses to go dark. I recommend this without reservation. It helps.

TRAVelite Desk Lamp

I have been a customer of Northern Light Technologies since 1992. Have had 3 different ones over the nearly 3 decades. Went from a HUGE box on my desk to the Travelite I have now. Having this light has made it possible, even joyful, to live in the Pacific NW. There is much less light & plenty of overcast skies in the off Summer season. I was instructed by my Dr. to use 1st thing in the morning in a dark room to get the biggest hit of serotonin to carry me through the day. Generally have breakfast, coffee while catching up on email or the days news. N.L.T. has been here with me for decades & their lights have given me a quality of life I never had before. Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

TRAVelite Desk Lamp

I have used this unit for the past half dozen years to replace a Northern Light desk lamp (used it about 20 years) that was too large and bulky when I switched to a smaller desk space. It works as well, but due to the lower power must be fairly close to your face (14″). You will feel the warmth. Fluorescent bulbs do fade with time and eventually burn out, so should be replaced regularly. The one design aspect that has been a problem is that is does not sit balanced on its stand. It tends to fall forward due to a misplaced center of gravity. I had to add a counterweight to the stand base with heavy magnets to keep it upright. This seems like a simple thing to have changed in the design.

Northern Light Desk Lamp & BOXelite Tubes

Been using this device for over twenty years. I remember when I first used the SADelite , a loaner from a CMHA Doctor, after three days of use I asked my Father for a loan to buy it from Northern Light Technologies, as I had my sense of humour back in February when usually I would be practically catatonic. I have been using it and the travelite when I travel ever since.

TRAVelite Desk Lamp

We have had our Travelite for 15+ years, so far have never had to replace the bulb and it is so helpful for SAD! Originally got it for my husband’s depression, but after moving from Denver (where almost every day is sunny) to Boston, I started using it too. With anticipating us being home, together, so much more this Fall & Winter, I am about to buy 2 more lights so that each main room we use will have one. I am recommending them to all my friends too! Thank you!

TRAVelite Desk Lamp

I’ve had this for several years and it still works like new. I dont use it consistently but when I do I feel it helping. It definitely improves my mood, and I have severe depression that also requires several medications. I would definitely recommend this light. A little pricey but worth the money.

LUXOR Desk Lamp

I am a Florida psychiatrist with Luxor in my office. It fits nicely into the decor. I use it for my S.A.D. patients and to demonstrate the importance of good circadian rhythm. Yes, Virginia, there is S.A.D. in Florida. It has been completely reliable for me since 2016.

Feel Bright Light Visor

Have had mine for 4 years now… I’m in the Pacific Northwest of Canada and use it during the winter mornings as one of my key tools to keep depression to a minimum. I’m an active guy in work and recreation, travel a lot, and need to get moving in the morning rather than sit by a desk lamp for 30 min, so the portability of this item is fantastic. Just clip it onto my current ball cap, and get rolling. Key features that I find useful: -Portability -Automatic turn off timer -Positions light at optimum 17deg plane above eyes to mimic sunlight

Northern Light Desk Lamp

I have owned your Northern Light Desk lamp for 20-25 years now (maybe more)–and just pulled it out again this winter. I live in the Pacific NW where the days can not only be short, but dim and gray. Within a few minutes of light exposure, I start to experience an energy boost and elevated mood. When I had it at my corporate office, co-workers would drop by and ask if they could sit and enjoy it also. (They teased me and said I just needed a box of sand under my desk for an instant beach–not a bad idea, actually). In any case, I was telling my mom about your product and dropped by to see if your company was still in business. Happy to see you are not only still in business but still sell the same product! Highly recommended!

Northern Light Desk Lamp & BOXelite Tubes

I truly cannot believe how I feel this year! I use the Northern Light desk lamp every morning for twenty minutes. This is the first time in decades I feel energetic, awake and full of life. I normally suffer from the winter “blahs”…ok lets just call it depression, but not this year. Thank you so much for a life altering product!

Northern Light Desk Lamp

Hello, I’m loving my lamp, I have few questions as a beginner: 1) Does this lamp help improving vitamin D levels in the body ? 2) Is there a user manual i can have please ? 3) Is there a maximum number of hours we could be exposed directly to this lamp ? I use it on my desk, Thank you Georges

BOXelite Desk Lamp

I have used my Northern Light Boxelite for years now. The only thing that I can say is that if you have the blues, depression, SAD get this product and use it diligently. It can make all the difference in how you feel. I started using it and within a few days use, I felt so much better. Whenever it is gray outside, I turn it on and within minutes my mood changes. I have bought one for my children and as presents for friends. Thank you Northern Lights for this wonderful technology.

FLAMINGO Floor Lamp

I was suffering from SAD for the past 3 winters (NYC). I researched light therapy and realized that I wanted to keep my morning routine – a cup of coffee in bed while I peruse my emails for a good 1/2 hour. Then up and out. I read so much info on the web but took the time to call Northern Lights customer service and was delighted to have a specific and helpful conversation so I could understand how to use the lamp and for how long. I chose this lamp and every morning I pull it to the side of my bed (I marked the floor) so it is always the right distance in front of my face. I sit for 35-45 minutes and it has been, to say the least, life-changing. I knew it in 2 weeks (started the week before daylight savings). For the first time in 3 years in the winter, I’m ‘myself’ …I go out and talk to people and feel normal again. AND…it seems to have reset my horrible (non) sleep cycles. I used to sleep 2-3 hours at a go and wake then sort of back again. Now I’m sleeping 7-9 hours straight through. Clearly, I’m a poster child for light therapy. I know there are a lot of products out there but I’m happy to say that this is a reputable company making a solid product. Thanks.

TRAVelite Desk Lamp

It really works. Great quality. Been using for 5 plus years.

LUXOR Desk Lamp

Between this Luxor lamp, and my discovery of Premier League Football on TV (soccer), my Fall and Winter months are considerably better than the years prior; the effect on mind, body and spirit just short of “eureka!” I turn on the Luxor on my standing desk first thing in the morning, and get a sense of well-being not unlike sitting on my sailboat in August. For me, this is the answer.

Northern Light Desk Lamp

This desk lamp provides instant relief from severe seasonal affective disorder. I feel the effects from the first treatment and they last the whole day. I’ve tried many other products and technologies. This is the only lamp that works for me.

TRAVelite Desk Lamp

After moving from sunny Southern California to New England several years ago, I developed Seasonal Affective Disorder. My doctor recommended daily light therapy. I now use the desk lamp every morning from October through March and I truly feel an improvement in my mood and energy level during these dark months.

Lumie Bodyclock ACTIVE 250

I have had this for the past 3 years and absolutely love it! I love the features for sunrise and sunset. It even wakes up my dog! Would highly recommend it!

Northern Light Desk Lamp

I was diagnosed with SAD officially in 2006 but suspected it long before then – during the 1990s, the office I worked in had no natural light – only ceiling-based fluorescent – and I found myself falling into moderate depression each year between the time when daylight saving time ended and the time when it began again the following year. Once I had been switched to an office with floor-to-ceiling windows with abundant natural sunlight, the problem disappeared so I recognized that I likely suffered from the disorder. My sister, who also worked in government, had a fellow worker with the condition and when the person retired and left this lamp behind, she obtained the lamp for me and I used it to “self-medicate” for my (at the time) undiagnosed SAD. This lamp is one of the best I have come across and still provides relief for my symptoms more than a decade after I first acquired it. It is of top quality and, unlike others that I have tried, doesn’t “blind” me by having to look directly at the bulb(s) – the combination of the U-shaped full-spectrum fluorescent tube and the parabolic reflector behind it spreads the light out and diffuses it into a beam that isn’t difficult to look directly at – plus it also ensures that the half of the light generated by the back of the fluorescent tube is redirected to the front of the lamp instead of being lost/absorbed where it cannot be seen, making it a very effective treatment device that directs virtually all the light generated by the source forward to where it is most needed. Living along the 45th parallel, it has proved to be an excellent item for treating my disorder efficiently and effectively with great efficacy during the dark times of the year when most needed. I highly recommend this lamp to anyone suffering from the “winter blues” or with an suspected or official diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Additionally, it makes a great desk lamp for reading or for doing any form of fine work that requires a bright and diffuse full-spectrum light source – there are no bright and dim areas in the light field unlike some others I’ve tried – just a wide and universally consistent light field is created anywhere the reflector unit is directed towards. I’ve even used it successfully as a grow light for my houseplants to provide supplemental light to keep them healthy and vibrant over the winter months. This item has so many varied uses to which it can be put and it performs them all admirably and reliably – and is solidly built, well-balanced, and easy to adjust. I can’t recommend this lamp more highly – it is a superior piece of kit and provides me relief from my condition along with a myriad of other uses. If it were possible, I’d have rated it 7 stars out of 5 for all the extra uses for this light provides beyond its

Northern Light Desk Lamp

I have two of these and I really notice the effect of using them! I had a ballast go bad in one and sent it to Northern Light for warranty work. The package was lost and misidentified. After some work on their part they verified that the package had reached their facility and then they sent me a new lamp. The lamp looks slightly industrial and that just means it is well built to me. A great product.

Manufacturer and Seller of 10,000 Lux Light Therapy Lamps, Clocks and Lighting to help overcome seasonal blue moods and feelings. Purchase Light Therapy

The Best Light Therapy Lamp

Updated November 13, 2020

We tried six additional light therapy lamps in 2020. The Carex Day-Light Classic Plus remains our top pick. The compact Verilux HappyLight Luxe is now our budget pick.

Share this review

Shifts in the number of daylight hours—due to changing seasons or long-distance travel—can have varying effects on people. For some, limited daylight hours can sap energy. For others, the effects can be more serious. After putting in 33 hours of research—including reading two books and five comprehensive studies on the subject and interviewing one of the scientists who discovered seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—we concluded that the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus is the best light therapy lamp to treat SAD symptoms.

Although many people might catch a case of the blahs when the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, that’s far different from a clinical case of SAD, which should only be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. You should use a SAD lamp or light box only under medical supervision, as it is in fact a medical device.

Our pick

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus

The best light therapy lamp

This light has all of the specs our expert sources recommend, as well as a reasonable price and a generous warranty.

Buying Options

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. The lamp’s “99.3 percent UV-free” LED light and 10,000-lux light intensity, combined with its large, 15½-by-12½-inch face, mean you won’t have to sit in front of it for more than 30 minutes (the minimum length of time that experts recommend) to experience its physiological benefits. It has a color temperature of 4,000 Kelvin.

Also great

Northern Light Technologies Boxelite

More streamlined, warmer hue

Of all the larger light therapy lamps we considered, the Boxelite has the most unobtrusive design.

Buying Options

If you’re willing to pay a bit more for one of the sleekest large light therapy lamps we looked at, or if our pick is unavailable, we recommend the Northern Light Technologies Boxelite. With a minimalist, rectangular design, the Boxelite is the lamp we’d like to put on our own desks. Its light face is about the same size as that of our top pick (15 by 12 inches), and it provides 10,000 lux of fluorescent, “UV-free” light. The Boxelite also has a warmer color temperature (3,500 Kelvin) than our top pick, which may better suit your taste. As with our top pick, you have to sit in front of it for only 30 minutes to benefit. But the Boxelite isn’t adjustable, unlike the Day-Light Classic Plus.

Budget pick

Verilux HappyLight Luxe

Compact design, less powerful

The compact HappyLight Luxe shines brightly in multiple color temperatures and has an automated shutoff feature. It’s the best sub-$100 lamp we’ve considered. However, its light is less powerful than that of our other picks.

Buying Options

At nearly half the price and a quarter of the size of our top pick, the Verilux HappyLight Luxe provides 10,000 lux of “UV-free” LED light, according to the manufacturer. Its 9-by-6-inch light surface has three color temperatures to choose from (3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 Kelvin, more choices than on our top pick or our also-great model), and it comes with a useful countdown timer. However, it isn’t position-adjustable like our top pick, and its small overall size and light face mean you may need to get creative with positioning to ensure an effective angle during use. And in a side-by-side comparison using a commercial luxmeter, we found that the HappyLight Luxe’s light appeared less powerful than that of our other two picks.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus

The best light therapy lamp

This light has all of the specs our expert sources recommend, as well as a reasonable price and a generous warranty.

Buying Options
Also great

Northern Light Technologies Boxelite

More streamlined, warmer hue

Of all the larger light therapy lamps we considered, the Boxelite has the most unobtrusive design.

Buying Options
Budget pick

Verilux HappyLight Luxe

Compact design, less powerful

The compact HappyLight Luxe shines brightly in multiple color temperatures and has an automated shutoff feature. It’s the best sub-$100 lamp we’ve considered. However, its light is less powerful than that of our other picks.

Buying Options

The research

Why you should trust us

We looked at 50 lamps for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and eventually tested 15 top-rated best sellers. We spent a weekend reading Winter Blues by SAD expert Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, and spoke at length with Alfred Lewy, MD, PhD, one of the first doctors to report on SAD in 1980. We also reached out to psychologist Elizabeth Saenger, PhD, who was then the director of education for the Center for Environmental Therapeutics, and Teodor Postolache, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Additionally, we read through many research papers from the past three decades.

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Many people experience some emotional or physical changes with the arrival of new seasons, especially winter: Your mood may swing, your eating habits might shift, and your energy levels may rise or fall. Some people are less able to cope with these changes. SAD is a seasonal pattern of major depressive episodes as diagnosed by a physician according to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). 1 This diagnosis can be made only by a medical professional.

For many people, seasonal shifts in their mood and energy might be unpleasant or annoying, but they’re fairly simple to manage.

Other people feel the weight of these changes in a more serious manner. Maybe the symptoms aren’t quite severe enough for them to seek a doctor’s opinion, but the effects certainly make it hard to get out of the house in winter. It’s what folks sometimes informally call the winter blues.

A third group experiences these changes so severely that their lives are seriously disrupted. If you have true SAD, the darker months may feel like a physical exhaustion that will never end.

It’s important to note that not everyone experiences SAD symptoms at the same time or in the same way. In Winter Blues, Rosenthal writes, “Just as the degree of seasonal difficulties may vary from one person to the next, so may the timing of the problem. For example, one person may begin to feel SAD symptoms in September, whereas another will feel well until after Christmas.”

Who should (and should not) get this

Therapeutic light boxes are not the only available treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you think you’re among the roughly 6% in the United States who suffer from SAD, talk to your doctor to figure out your best course of treatment (which might include anything from more time outside to cognitive behavioral therapy or medication).

For most people with only mild seasonal mood disorders (some 14% of the US population), the risk of using a therapy light is relatively minimal; eyestrain and headaches (especially in migraine sufferers) are the most commonly reported side effects. However, as New York Magazine reported in its 2016 article on SAD lamps, people with a history of clinical depression or bipolar disorder may suffer an exaggerated response while using a light box and should consider this therapy only in close consultation with a physician.

How SAD lamps work

In 1980, Alfred Lewy published the finding from a small study indicating that sufficiently intense artificial light suppressed humans’ nighttime production of melatonin—a hormone linked to the regulation of the sleep cycle. According to interviews with Lewy, prior to that moment there was more or less uniform agreement among medical professionals that artificial light had little to no effect on people’s circadian rhythms. As it turned out, most experiments up to that moment had not used lights bright enough to induce a measurable change in human melatonin or circadian physiology.

“[Dr. Robert] Sack and I realized that humans really don’t have seasonal rhythms like animals do, like breeding and hibernation and reproduction,” Lewy explained over the phone. “We proposed a ‘phase shift hypothesis’ that is still the leading hypothesis for how bright lights treat SAD, which is that in the winter, with the shorter days, most people’s circadian rhythms drift late with the later dawn, out of phase with their natural sleep-wake cycle. It’s like having jet lag for five months. With morning bright-light exposure, those rhythms are pushed back earlier, back into phase with their sleep.”

Today, “bright light therapy is recommended as the first-line option” for the treatment of SAD, according to a 2003 review (PDF) in the journal Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. Far from being a fringe or “alternative” purported remedy for SAD, light therapy has been clinically shown in many studies to work to alleviate symptoms.

How we picked and tested

When you’re shopping for a SAD lamp, to ensure that you receive the full therapeutic benefits of the light, there are a few important factors to consider, namely how much light it delivers and how close to the lamp you need to sit for the treatment to be effective.

First, know that the FDA does not test, approve, or regulate light-box devices. As such, you should not use one without a physician’s guidance. We based our picks on research, customer feedback, and product specifications—including optimal sitting distances—provided by manufacturers, as well as conversations with experts who study and prescribe these units.

A light box should deliver between 2,500 and 10,000 lux. A lux is a unit that measures 1 lumen per square meter. The more lux a light delivers, the less time you need to spend positioned in front of it. For most 10,000-lux lights, 30 uninterrupted minutes per day, preferably in the morning, should suffice. “If you’re going to sleep too early and want to stay awake longer, a little bit of light therapy in the afternoon can help mitigate that,” said Teodore Postolache, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

We also looked at how close to each box you need to sit to score the maximum results. Light intensity is subject to the inverse square law, which says that the intensity of light falls off by the square of the distance that you move away from it. For instance, if you are 2 feet away from a light source, you see a fourfold decrease in intensity. The farther away a person is able to sit from a lamp and still receive 10,000 lux for maximum efficacy, the more flexibility they have in terms of what they can be doing and how they can be sitting during treatment. “I insist, absolutely, that any reputable, reliable manufacturer has to tell the consumer what the distance it should be from the eyes to achieve 10,000 lux,” Lewy said. “If a light box doesn’t have that information, I wouldn’t use it.”

The FDA does not test, approve, or regulate light-box devices.

The larger the surface of the light box, the better. In Winter Blues, Rosenthal notes that the lights “used in almost all research studies … have an illuminated surface that is at least about one foot square.” For that reason, and the fact that smaller therapeutic lamps have not undergone the same kind of rigorous study that their bigger cousins have received, we strongly recommend light boxes with the largest surfaces. (We do recommend a smaller lamp, the HappyLight Luxe, which we think is a serviceable option if you don’t have the space or budget for one of our larger picks. However, our top pick has a longer track record of efficacy in home and academic use, and in a side-by-side comparison that we performed with a commercial luxmeter, the HappyLight Luxe’s light output did not seem as strong.)

We avoided any lamps that did not have a plastic filter to remove most if not all ultraviolet waves (which are potentially harmful to the eye), and we avoided those with incandescent bulbs, which can build up a lot of heat, as well as models that used blue LEDs, as there’s still some controversy over whether blue light, which is different from blue-enriched white light (PDF), is harmful to the eyes.

Rosenthal notes that the lights “used in almost all research studies … have an illuminated surface that is at least about one foot square.”

Although many SAD lamps fit the above specifications, we discounted a number of them because of their high price, overly cumbersome design, too-small size, or dubious claims about features like “ion therapy.”

Because we are not qualified or equipped to evaluate SAD lamps for efficacy, we focused instead on how easy they were to use, how much space they took up on a tabletop, and whether they met their stated specs, including their total size and weight, light-face dimensions, cord lengths, and approximate light intensities. In a nonscientific test, we compared lux readings obtained with a commercial luxmeter to check for any significant inconsistencies between stated light intensities and real-world readings.

For this review, we focused on light therapy lamps. We did not consider dawn simulators, sunrise alarm clocks, or so-called light therapy glasses.

Our pick: Carex Day-Light Classic Plus

Our pick

Carex Day-Light Classic Plus

The best light therapy lamp

This light has all of the specs our expert sources recommend, as well as a reasonable price and a generous warranty.

Buying Options

The Carex Day-Light Classic Plus has the largest light face of all our picks and an impressive record of efficacy, as reported in customer reviews and academic research alike. This lamp projects 10,000 lux of “99.3 percent UV-free” LED light from its 15½-by-12½-inch lamp face, the same amount of lux as all of our other picks provide and the minimum lux that any SAD lamp needs to be therapeutically effective according to the doctors we interviewed. The lamp face mounts to a weighted horseshoe base by way of an adjustable arm. This arm allows you to adjust the lamp’s angle and vertical position, reducing overall glare and increasing the flexibility of where and how you can use the lamp. For instance, you can set up the Day-Light Classic Plus in such a way that it allows you to read a book beneath it while keeping most of your face positioned well within the therapeutic 12-inch range of the lamp face. In contrast, to read in front of lamps that sit directly on a desk, you would need to either place the book upright between you and the lamp, which would shield you from some of the light, or lay the book down in front of you, possibly extending your position outside of the lamp’s therapeutic range.

Assembling the Day-Light Classic Plus is easy and takes less than five minutes. An on/off switch on its side powers the lamp; when switched on, it starts illuminating instantly, in one of two intensities (7,000 or 10,000 lux). Fully extended, the Day-Light Classic Plus is 28½ inches tall. The lamp angle can swing approximately 65 degrees from fully vertical to nearly horizontal, which adds flexibility, though this design makes the entire lamp more cumbersome to move around compared with other lamps we’ve tried.

Compared with the cooler tones of other lamps, the Day-Light Classic Plus emits a pleasant, warm light with a color temperature of 4,000 Kelvin. You can also adjust the intensity, choosing between a high setting (10,000 lux) and a low setting (7,000 lux). Unlike on our also-great pick, this model’s cover, which protects the LED lights, creates an airtight seal, which makes the lamp easier to keep clean. The lamp comes with a standard AWG 6-foot grounded power cord, which is plenty long enough for most people’s needs and interchangeable if it gets lost. That interchangeability also means you can buy a longer AWG cord and use that instead if you need to.

The Day-Light has been used for years by scientists and physicians who study and treat SAD. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics, a nonprofit collective of scientists and clinicians dedicated to research and education about environmental therapies, has recommended the Day-Light for years. According to psychologist Elizabeth Saenger, who was the CET’s director of education at the time of our interview, it’s the go-to light for many clinical trials that aim to study the effectiveness of light therapy. In October 2017, former CET board member Dorothy K. Sit, MD, and her colleagues used the Day-Light in a study described in an American Journal of Psychiatry paper, “Adjunctive Bright Light Therapy for Bipolar Depression: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial.” A January 2016 article in New York Magazine also touted the Day-Light Classic Plus, quoting psychiatrist James Phelps’s description of it as the “official research rig.”

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The Day-Light Classic Plus is unwieldy and, some would argue, unattractive. The weighted base has a large (12-by-16-inch) footprint, so this lamp is not ideal for smaller spaces. If you don’t like the way it looks, you may prefer the simpler design of our also-great pick or our compact budget pick.

Like any heat-producing device, the lamp should be used in an open, ventilated space (a company spokesperson said to avoid putting it on a desk with a hutch, for example).

Carex’s five-year warranty for the Day-Light Classic Plus does not apply to “use other than for personal, family or household purposes and excludes shipping and handling charges.”

Also great: Northern Light Technologies Boxelite

Also great

Northern Light Technologies Boxelite

More streamlined, warmer hue

Of all the larger light therapy lamps we considered, the Boxelite has the most unobtrusive design.

Buying Options

If design is your priority, we like the Northern Light Technologies Boxelite. This lamp is more expensive than our top pick but looks the sharpest on a desk or table. Similar to the Day-Light Classic Plus, the Boxelite provides 10,000 lux, and it emits light from a 15-by-12-inch face. According to Northern Light Technologies, the light is fully UV-free, a slight enhancement over our top pick’s “99.3% UV-free” claim. The Boxelite provides an even warmer light than the Day-Light Classic Plus, with a 3,500-Kelvin color temperature. The Boxelite is not adjustable, but its slim, basic design helps it look the least obtrusive of the lamps we considered.

An on/off switch at the base powers the lamp. The bulbs take a few seconds to illuminate, but that is normal for fluorescent bulbs. The lamp also comes with a 7-foot cord, the longest of any of our picks.

Our favorite aspect of the Boxelite is its sleek design. The Boxelite has a picture-frame setup, minimal design with few accents, and clean edges. The back of the Boxelite is contained in a single smooth, black panel. It also comes with a seven-year warranty, longer coverage than for our pick. Note, though, that this warranty (PDF) covers everything but the tubes, and the customer is responsible for the shipping costs to send faulty units to Northern Light Technologies.

Our main two issues with the Boxelite are its lack of adjustability and its higher price, although it does come with that seven-year warranty. Also, since the Boxelite’s plastic cover does not feature an airtight seal (unlike on our other two picks), dust and grime easily slip into the hard-to-clean space between the cover and the lights.

Budget pick: Verilux HappyLight Luxe

Budget pick

Verilux HappyLight Luxe

Compact design, less powerful

The compact HappyLight Luxe shines brightly in multiple color temperatures and has an automated shutoff feature. It’s the best sub-$100 lamp we’ve considered. However, its light is less powerful than that of our other picks.

Buying Options

In side-by-side comparisons, the light output of the Verilux HappyLight Luxe was significantly lower than that of our other two picks. However, this small lamp is a solid option for newcomers to light therapy who don’t have the space or the budget for our top pick or also-great pick. At less than a foot tall and 7½ inches wide, it also packs easily for travel. The HappyLight Luxe’s 9-by-6-inch light surface still shines brightly, though not as brightly as those on our other, larger picks. According to Verilux, the lamp’s claimed 10,000-lux, “UV-free” light projection is adjustable from 3,000 to 5,000 Kelvin, so you can pick the light warmth that feels best to you. This model also features a countdown timer that lets you set the lamp to stay on for five-minute increments up to an hour; when the timer is done, the lamp shuts off automatically.

The HappyLight Luxe has the appearance and approximate size of a Kindle or a tablet, and unlike our other two picks, it comes with a detachable stand that can also serve as a wall mount. Its small footprint makes it easy to adjust and move around for proper, effective placement and for making sure it is within the company-reported therapeutic 24-inch range of the lamp face, which is twice the distance allowed by our top pick.

Like the cover on the Day-Light Classic Plus, the HappyLight Luxe’s cover, which protects the LED lights, has an airtight seal, so the lamp is easy to keep clean. The HappyLight Luxe comes with a three-year warranty that excludes bulbs and parts, which are covered by only a 30-day warranty. At 67 inches long, the cord on this model is shorter than those of the Day-Light Classic Plus and the Boxelite. This lamp is also non-returnable on Amazon, though other retailers, such as Nordstrom Rack and the manufacturer’s site, offer 30-day return policies.

The competition

If our top pick is unavailable, or if space is a concern, consider the Carex Day-Light Sky, which is a slightly smaller version of the Day-Light Classic Plus. Both have a long neck and swivel head for custom positioning. The Day-Light Sky’s base is teal.

For smaller spaces, Carex’s TheraLite Aura is a serviceable budget option with a reported 10,000-lux output at 12 inches. Its overall footprint is less than half the size of our top pick’s; its light surface, in particular, is significantly smaller. This lamp is also less adjustable, allowing only repositioning of the light surface’s upward/downward angle (you cannot adjust the height). The smaller size and reduced adjustability limit your positioning options.

In 2020, Carex’s TheraLite brand came out with three new lamps, all of which reportedly project 10,000 lux of light and have interesting features, but their one-year warranties aren’t competitive with our picks’ longer coverage periods. The Halo includes Qi wireless cell phone charging and six levels of brightness, while the Radiance includes a built-in alarm clock plus Qi wireless cell phone charging and five levels of brightness. The Aura Qi is an updated version of the Aura and includes a built-in alarm clock plus Qi wireless cell phone charging and four levels of brightness. In our tests, however, after 30 minutes of use it became very hot to the touch, reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Verilux HappyLight Full-Size (VT20) is about the same price as our budget pick but lacks a countdown timer.

The Circadian Optics Lumine Light Therapy Lamp is extremely small, with a light surface of only 6 by 6 inches, which makes it difficult to achieve the optimal distance for therapeutic benefit.

Northern Light Technologies’s Boxelite-OS seemed like a promising alternative to the comparatively clinical-looking Carex Day-Light Classic Plus, but we found its two-legged adjustable design unwieldy. We also discovered that the light surface quickly collected dust and put off a considerable amount of heat (including for quite a while after we had switched the light off). The Day-Light Classic Plus, which we tested in a side-by-side comparison with the Boxelite-OS, seemed to produce much less heat when it was on and became cool to the touch just moments after we switched it off. Although both models have rather large footprints, we found it easier to position a laptop beneath the Day-Light Classic Plus than under the Boxelite-OS, especially within a small workspace.

The Aura Daylight Therapy Lamp, which regularly costs more than our top pick, has a streamlined design like our also-great pick’s with a slightly smaller footprint. Although it’s typically less expensive than the Boxelite, you need to sit much closer to this lamp to receive 10,000 lux of light, the manufacturer says (positioning yourself no more than 8 inches away from the light surface). The Aura Daylight also has a shorter warranty period—two years—than our picks.

The Sphere Gadget Technologies Lightphoria, a best seller on Amazon, is too small to provide enough of an illuminated surface.

We dismissed the Travelite and the Luxor, both by Northern Light Technologies, for their smaller light panels and lesser reviews, respectively. The company’s Flamingo lamp, affixed to a 4-foot-tall floor stand, regularly costs more than twice as much as our top pick and almost $100 more than our also-great pick.

Although the Alaska Northern Lights NorthStar 10,000 meets the recommended criteria for a light therapy lamp and has excellent customer reviews, at a typical price of $300 it costs over two times as much as our top pick.

Footnotes

A large 2016 study cast doubt on the existence of seasonal patterns of depression, but in the face of decades of evidence backing the condition and its existence in the DSM-IV, we’re reserving judgment until more research is done.

Sources

Nicole Praschak-Rieder, MD, Matthäus Willeit, MD, Treatment of seasonal affective disorders, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience , December 1, 2003

Canadian Consensus Group on SAD, Canadian Consensus Guidelines for the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder

CI Eastman, MA Young, LF Fogg, L Liu, PM Meaden, Bright light treatment of winter depression: a placebo-controlled trial., Archives of General Psychiatry , October 1, 1998

Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, Winter Blues, September 4, 2012

After 33 hours of research, we’re confident that our pick is the best light therapy lamp to treat seasonal affective disorder.