Sunday, 5 October 2014

Top 6 LED Desk Lamps: Good, Eye-Friendly Picks

Reviews: LED Desk Lights & Lamps for 2014


Photo Credit: dixieroadrash
Having struggled along with a myriad of cheap lamps my whole life, the discovery of eye-friendly LEDs was a revelation. 

They offer a versatility and light quality that standard incandescents and fluorescents just can't touch. They're cheap, safe and incredibly economic. 

Got your attention now?

This article is written to review a few of the best LED desk lamps and lights. I'll be judging each one on merit of the following criteria: light quality, features, ease of use and price tag. 

To make this list, each pick has to score pretty well in all four of those categories. Price wise, they're a step up from what you're probably used to, but if you'll bear with me I'll explain why a good LED desk lamp is worth its weight in gold (figuratively, of course!)


What Are LEDs?


Before we get into the reviews, I wanted to briefly cover what an LED actually is. The name stands for light emitting diode.

Each diode is actually a small semi-conductor. They produce light using a principle known as electroluminescence, whereby when an electric current passes through a material, light is produced as a byproduct.

It's a very efficient source of light, and doesn't make use of a filament or any form of combustion. In addition, it can be manipulated to display virtually any colour. Most good LED desk lamps make use of multiple diodes, often around 20 - 30.

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Satechi: A 'smart' LED desk lamp with a good reading mode


If you need a reasonably priced LED office desk lamp, or something that's suitable for reading or writing for long periods of time, this is one to note.

Satechi has produced a long-lasting product with four different modes. Each mode is at a different light colour tone and brightness, and optimized for a particular activity. 

For example, the study mode is brighter and more energizing, with a colder light quality that discourages fatigue and promotes concentration. If you don't think that light colour affects alertness, then try the relaxation mode and you'll be convinced!

This excellent LED desk / reading light is rated to last for over 40,000 hours. That equals many, many years of regular usage!

That use won't draw a lot of power, as it only uses 15 watts at the highest setting.

It is sleek and takes up very little space 'visually'. It's a modern design, but one that can be swivelled to brighten in almost any direction. It folds up flat.

Additional Features: It comes with a USB charger on the back, very handy for your cell phone. It also has intuitive touch controls located on the base. It comes with a timer, so it's a great nightlight.

Cost: Priced at around $100 at the time of writing, this smart LED desk light is a good, reliable investment.

Verdict: Has a classic, modern shape, and intuitive touch controls. The Satechi is a winner.

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Elune: A good, cheap LED desk lamp with positive reviews

The Elune, by TaoTronics, is an affordable variation on a popular design style. You'll probably notice that in shape and features it is quite similar to other lamps, like the Satechi. 

I wanted to include it on this list as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive offerings on this list. Despite its reasonable price tag, the Elune actually holds up against pricier competition.

As a 'stick' style lamp, it swivels much like the others. It will fold up flat vertically, and it can swivel up to 180 degrees. It doesn't quite have the versatility of movement that some of the others do, but it is still very easy to position.

It has excellent brightness, and like many others features four brightness modes aimed at work, study, relaxation and sleep. These features are handled by a touchpad on the arm itself. They control not only the brightness but the colour quality as well: cold light for work and reading, warm light for relaxation and sleep.

It has a lifespan of about 45,000 hours, which in real terms means a quarter lifetime of practical use.

As for efficiency, it has the brightness of a 65 watt bulb, but only consumes a fraction of that amount. It's a good LED desk lamp if you tend to forget to turn things off.

Additional Features: It comes with a dimmer function, and you can adjust the brightness by pressing the plus or minus symbols. In addition, it has an automatic timer that will shut the lamp off after an hour. 

Cost: The Elune comes in at about $65, making it one of the most affordable desk lights with LED bulbs. It will certainly pay for itself over its 25 year lifespan.

Verdict: An attractive, feature rich and cheap desk LED lamp, what's not to like?

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Z-Bar: A distinctive, flexible LED desk light, good reviews


Koncept Z-Bar
 Price: $199.99 

What can I say about the Z-Bar? It was an innovator when it came out, and it's being copied to this day. It offers nearly unparalleled flexibility and light quality. It's pricier, but there's a reason.

It's the ultimate low-profile LED desk lamp, with great light packed into a tiny package. 

It's literally a stick, with flexible joints at three different points, meaning you can position it at will. In addition, the light stick rotates, letting you direct illumination wherever you want. 

The housing is made from brushed aluminum, and it's available in both black and silver. It's incredibly minimalist in design, with a row of tiny LED bulbs along the stick and that's about it. 

The controls are minimalist too. There's a single touchstrip, which controls both the on-off functionality as well as the brightness of the lamp.

For power, it consumes a mere 9 watts while producing light equivalent to a 60 watt fixture. It's directed light, not ambient, so it's the perfect LED desk reading lamp. If you want to illuminate a whole room, it might not be ideal.

Additional Features: The Z-Bar comes in a range of sizes from large to mini, and each one is high quality. They are also clampable, if that's how you'd prefer to affix it.

Cost: The Z-Bar is an expensive LED desk light, coming in at about $200 for the base model. Well worth it.

Verdict: A luxury style LED lamp for offices with modern decor, the Z-Bar is gorgeous and effective.

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Funlamp: A portable, foldable, cheap USB desk lamp with LED bulbs


Funlamp
 Price: $23.80 

If you want something truly affordable, this is one of the best LED desk lamps you're going to come across. Does it stack up to the more expensive models here? No, but it serves a great purpose.

It's a perfect accessory if you travel or move around a lot. Because it is so compact and foldable, it doesn't take up much space in your home. It makes a wonder LED bedside reading lamp, and it's equally at home in the office.

It's a personal lamp, meaning that it produces enough light for one person to work or read. It doesn't consume very much in the way of electricity, coming it at 2.5 watts. That's fine, because the super efficient LED bulbs do their job quite nicely.

It rotates at two different pivot points, and you can direct the light wand itself up to 90 degrees.

The lamp is controlled with a touch activated switch, and like the Z-Bar it is a one-button style control. Tap to switch between various brightness levels.

Additional Features: This is a USB powered LED desk lamp, and as such it must be plugged in to a USB power source. Usually that means a computer.

Cost: The Funlamp is extremely affordable, coming in at just under $25. Considering it comes with an 18 month warranty, that's a steal.

Verdict: The Funlamp is one of the best affordable LED desk lamps around. It's not as feature rich or bright as more expensive models, but that price tag makes up for any shortcomings.

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Gravy: Wood & metal, one of the best looking LED desk lamps around


Koncept Gravy
 Price: $220.00 

Aesthetic is important. Beyond pure functionality, it has to look good. The right desk accessories can transform an otherwise mundane office into a cool, modern haven. 

The Gravy, by Koncept, is an award winning, LED desk lamp with good features and fantastic good looks. Melding brushed aluminum with various wood tones, it has a truly artisan feel to it.

Even the power cable was well thought out. Rather than hiding it, they used a bold colour on the casing.

Functionally, it's a surprisingly simple setup. The wood bar rests inside the aluminum hanger, and is held in place by gravity. You can slide the bar in or out to adjust the placement, or swivel  it 360 degrees. 

As for power consumption, it runs a total of 28 tiny LEDs in the head itself, and that consumes 6 watts at maximum brightness. It functions best as a reading or task light given its 'spotlight' design.

Additional Features: Like most Koncept lamps, this one is a single touch control model. Just press the main button to turn on or off, or to adjust the brightness setting. It has LEED approval, so you can get credit. 

Cost: The custom wood housing and aluminum doesn't come cheap, and this one retails for around $220. It should last for a lifetime, and it's hard to beat that power efficiency.

Verdict: The Gravy is a top quality LED desk light with rave reviews and top marks for being environmentally friendly. It's an investment that will pay dividends.

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Balance: A unique LED lamp for office or home, fantastic light quality


OxyLED Balance
 Price: $59.99 

This lamp is quite different from the others on this list. It's one part functional LED lamp for your desk, and one part modern work of art. 

It's a rechargeable LED desk lamp, and as such there are no cables to be a nuisance or eyesore. And with up to 650 lux, it's powerful as rechargeables go. 

The light features touch controls with four variable brightness settings to choose between. 

The light quality is almost unparalleled, with a CRI of 90. That rating ensures colours are seen in a very natural way, and they aren't washed out the way some cheaper LEDs seem to do.

Let's talk about the atypical shape. With the hex base, it can be positioned in four ways, including horizontal, vertical, and at a diagonal. The most user friendly way seems to be the diagonal position. 

It is unobtrusive, and since there are no cables you can place it anywhere. It is a surprising thing to realize that joints and swivels aren't actually very necessary to get the job done.

Additional Features: It comes with a power adaptor, and a USB cable to plug into devices as a power source. The battery is a 2100 mAh, and it will last for around 6 hours of regular use between charges.

Cost: The Balance is a very cheap LED desk lamp, and it can be found for around $60. 

Verdict: The shape is atypical, but the Balance functions really well, and the fact that it is cableless is icing on the cake. It's one of the best affordable LED style desk lamps available today.

Advantages of LED Desk Lighting 

Because they tend to be cheaper and more common, most people will opt for a traditional setup. Here are a few reasons to consider this newer technology.

Lower Costs: LED bulbs don't consume nearly as much energy as traditional incandescents. They're on par with fluorescent bulbs for efficiency. 

It's rare for such fixtures to exceed 20 watts. Over time, that will help pay for itself, even if the initial cost is high. 

Another cost saving factor is the long lifespan. All the lamps on this list will last for many years of regular use. Most are rated for over 40,000 hours of enjoyment. LEDs don't often burn out, they just get marginally weaker over time.

Environmentally Friendly: Most light emitting diodes are fairly Earth friendly. They usually don't contain mercury or other heavy metals, and they're recyclable. 

What's more, they last a long time, so there isn't a need for frequent replacement or waste.

Safe: Light bulbs can get pretty hot — hot enough to start a fire in some cases, and certainly hot enough to burn you. Unless they're extremely high in power, LEDs don't emit much heat. 

They are a fantastic choice for Christmas lights, as they won't scorch your tree.

Have any questions that I didn't answer? Have any suggestions that didn't make this list? Please feel free to leave a comment below!

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