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Best SAD lamps 2024 – light therapy for dark days

I've researched the best SAD lamps on the market. These are the best light therapy options on the market

One of the best SAD lamps on the marker, the Northern Light Technologies Luxor Min sat on a beige tablei in a lounge
(Image credit: Northern Light Technologies)

Dark and gloomy days can leave you feeling the winter blues, but there are lots of way to tackle them. Investing in a SAD lamp, light box, or sunrise alarm clock can help you feel a little lighter, brighter and more energized.

If you've already tested sunrise alarm clocks and discovered the powers of light therapy, you will love SAD lamps. These can be placed by your bed, on your desk (top tip: they make great ring lights), or simply in your living space. As long as they can provide you with 10,000 lux of light (the clinically recommended amount), you should start to feel the difference.

I've scrolled through hundreds of SAD lamps, reading reviews of everything the market has to offer. The results are these, nine lamps. They're perfect for different purposes and backed-up with plenty of shining recommendations. 

Note: Seasonal Affected Disorder is a medical condition. If  you are struggling, speak to a medical professional. SAD lamps are recognized as a form of treatment, but you should always seek expert advice.

The best SAD lamps 2024

You can trust Homes & Gardens. Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing the latest products, helping you choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The best SAD lamp overall

1. Carex Day-Light Classic Plus

Universally popular, this meets every requirement for medical use

Specifications

Dimensions: 12"D x 15.75"W x 31.13"H
Light intensity: 10,0000 at 12 inches
Settings: 2
Flexible stand: yes

Reasons to buy

+
Adjustable height
+
Maximum lux
+
Large
+
Bright

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
A little bulky
Buy it if

✅ You want a quick fix: this only needs 30 mins exposure
✅ You'll keep this at your desk: it makes a good lamp
✅ You want adjustability: this can change heights

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: this is quite expensive
❌ You'll move this around a lit: it's bulky
❌ You don't like assembly: this needs a tool kit to put together

The bottom line

🔎 Carex Day-Light Classic Plus: 30 minutes with the Carex gives you all the exposure you'll need. It's reasonably priced and adjustable, but not the most portable.

You only need to mention Carex to anyone who is remotely interested in SAD lamps to get a nod of approval. Their Day-Light Classic Plus Bright Light Therapy Lamp is one of the most popular models on the market and it's easy to see why.

The Day-Light Classic Plus can issue 10,000 lux of light in a 12 inch radius. This is perfect for any work set-up. Combined with the swivel height adjustor (a particularly popular feature), this is an office essential. You only need it on for 30 minutes to get the maximum effects of light therapy.

Out of over 3,000 Amazon reviews, the Day-Light Classic has a solid 4.3 star rating. It comes highly recommended as a top-quality, highly effective model. Reviewers generally scored it highest for brightness and value. The wide, light screen throws out a significant amount of light, which you might expect given the price tag. One final, added bonus, is that this comes with a five year guarantee. 

I started looking for issues that people had with the Day-Light classic and, whilst there weren't many, I did spot a few. The swivel only goes up and down. You can't move the screen to the left or right, and to do so you need to move the entire (quite bulky) stand. It's relatively heavy, so this isn't something you would want to do often. People who are always adjusting their position would do prefer a more portable SAD light.

The best SAD lamp for design

2. Northern Light Technologies Boxelite

Slim, streamlined and smart, this is a stylish SAD light

Specifications

Dimensions: 12 x 24 x 6 inches
Weight: 4 lbs
Light intensity: 10,000 at 14 inches
Flexible stand: no

Reasons to buy

+
Minimalist design
+
Large surface area 
+
Warm color
+
Only need 30 minutes exposure
+
7 year warranty

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Not adjustable
Buy it if

✅ You care about design: this is beautiful
✅ You want quick exposure:
this only needs 30 minutes
✅ You like a warmer white:
this is yellower than others (3,500 Kelvin)

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're short on space: this is big
❌ You're on a budget: it's expensive
❌ You want adjustability: the stand is fixed

The bottom line

🔎 Northern Light Technologies Boxelite: slim and streamlined this big light is perfect for quick exposure. You'll need a lot of space and a generous budget for it though.

Next to Carex, Northern Light Technologies make some of the best Light Therapy products on the market. The Boxelite is one of the most stylish options on the market. The screen is big (nearly 15 x 12 inches), but the whole box is slim with a minimalistic black frame. If looks aren't enough to persuade you, this comes with a seven year warranty (that's seriously good).

As with the Carex Day-Light Classic Plus, you won't need this on for long to take full advantage of the Boxelite's effects. 30 minutes is plenty of time to benefit from its 10,000 lux of UV-free light. Fourteen inches is one of the biggest ranges we have in this list, which is particularly useful for deep desks and large homes. Paired with an 8 ft cord, you have a lot more flexibility in where you can place the Boxelite. However, if you have a small home, this will dominate the room.

The hue of the Boxelite is warmer than others. It measures at 3,500 Kelvin, which, translated into reality, means it's less of a fluorescent white and more of a gentle yellow. 

Reviewers didn't criticise this often, but when they did, it all fell on similar topics. The first is customization. This is an expensive SAD light, but the only settings are on and off. Although this might be all you need, there are plenty of other models on the market which have color and brightness options. The second, more niche issue people had with the Boxelite is construction. This wasn't something raised by customers, but when other expert reviewers had tested this by knocking it onto the floor repeatedly, for example, they found that it didn't hold itself well. One commented on screws coming loose every time it was knocked over. SAD lamps are best left still, but if you're clumsy, this might not be the one for you. 

The best value SAD lamp

3. Northern Light Technologies Luxor Mini

Petite, reasonably priced, and neatly designed

Specifications

Dimensions:
Weight:
Light intensity: 10,000 lux at 10 inches
UV protection: Yes
Flexible: No

Reasons to buy

+
Reasonable price
+
Looks good
+
Bright

Reasons to avoid

-
Small surface area
-
Too bright for some
Buy it if

✅ You want a small option: this is compact
✅ Your budget is $100:
this is great value
✅ You want an ultra-bright light:
this can sit in the corner of the room

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want a screen: this is a pyramid
❌ You want quick exposure: this has a small surface area
 You want a gentle light: this is intense

The bottom line

🔎 Northern Light Technologies Luxor Mini: this petite pyramid is ultra-bright (too much for some). The small surface area means it's slower, but it looks great in the corner of a room.

If your budget sits at around $100, you might be at a loss for finding a good SAD light. Thankfully, Northern Light Technologies has designed this petite pyramid for just over $100.

The shape doesn't lend itself quite as well to being a desk lamp as the other screen SAD lamps do, but this works in its favor. The Luxor Mini looks great on a bedside table or in the corner of the room. The subtle, modern aesthetics are simple but shining.

As a result of its size, you'll need more time around the Luxor Mini to feel its full benefits. This is still as bright as the best SAD lamps on the list, but it simply doesn't have the surface area to work within 30 minutes. It's also worth noting that this compensates for size with brightness. A number of reviewers found this too bright to look at. They couldn't sit it on a desk even if they wanted to. Some called this 'radiant'; others called it 'overkill'. 

I noticed lots of people end up buying multiple versions of this to place around their house. Aesthetically, it seems pretty perfect. Functionally, it is certainly powerful, but there are a number of people who struggled with the bulb. Whether they were changing it or the bulb came loose, this is certainly something to be aware of.

The best alarm clock SAD lamp

4. Philips SmartSleep Wake Up Light

For serious sleepers who want to get their circadian rhythms running

Specifications

Dimensions: 5.7 x 7.8 x 7.5 inches
Weight: 2.45 lbs
Light intensity : 300 lux
Light settings: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Range of light settings
+
Good for sleep
+
Radio capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Need to use for a long time
-
Not as strong as others
Buy it if

✅ You want to sort out your sleep: this helps you wake up naturally
✅ You'll use different color options:
this has over 30
✅ You need a radio:
this is multifunctional

Don't buy it if:

❌ You'd only use this at your desk: it's better first-thing
❌ You don't need an alarm: that's the main function
❌ You're on a budget: this is expensive

The bottom line

🔎 Philips SmartSleep Wake Up Light: this helps you set your day up for success, naturally waking you up with 300 lux of light. If you don't need an alarm clock, this is an expensive SAD light, if you do, it's ingenious.

At Homes & Gardens, we're sleep obsessed and we've made no secret about it. Having tested the best sunrise alarm clocks on the market, we were eager to get a good SAD alarm clock in this guide too and Philips makes the best.

This double-duty appliance helps wake you up naturally, gradually working through the thirty light settings (starting as red), as it emulates a sunrise and then blasts an alarm. Whilst it truly shines in the morning, the range of light settings is great for offering a little extra boost in the evening or on dark days. 

User reviews rave about the SmartSleep. Some people suggested adjusting the wake-up time to suit your needs, which is easy, but very important. Reviewers also enjoyed the radio and alarm sounds, which are natural and not too jarring first thing in the morning. If you choose snooze, the lights reset and start to wake you up slowly again. Using light to do this is immeasurably useful for setting your circadian rhythm at the start of the day, so, whilst this might lack the strength of some other SAD lights, the time at which it exposes you to light is priceless.

On the subject of strength, this is only 300 lux (10,00 is normally the recommended amount for SAD lights), so if you don't maximise on light in the morning, you'll need it close to you for a long time. The SmartSleep also comes with lots of functions (including the radio and alarm) that you might not need. If you wouldn't use these, don't pay a premium for them. There are other options in this list.

The best SAD lamp for work