Desk lamps form an important part and role to any workspace and/or home office, and serve not only as a practical tool for drafting board work for example, but also as an ambient light source and even an item of furniture.
Therefore a good desk lamp must be highly functional as well as aesthetically pleasing, and there are plenty of products available that do none of these!
This guide begins with a list and review of our favorite 6 best desk lamps (not the 10 best! Just 6), and is followed by a buyers guide identifying the most important aspects and elements that need to be considered before making such a purchase.
The Best Desk Lamps Are…
Firstly for speed and efficiency we have only reviewed and shortlisted our top 6 results, and the below products form a list of what we consider to be some of the best desk lamps currently available:
Best Touch Sensor Desk Lamp: The Architect Desk Lamp
Best Affordable Desk Lamp: LEPOWER Metal Desk Lamp
Best LED Desk Lamp Overall: Phive LED Desk Lamp
Best For Anti-Glare: BenQ e-reading led desk lamp
Best Desk Lamp For Design Quality: Swing Arm Desk Lamp
Most unobtrusive Desk Lamp: BenQ Screenbar Plus
The Architect Desk Lamp – Best Touch Sensor Lamp
The Architect LED modern desk lamp with gesture control lighting technology stands out for its innate ability to make you feel like a Jedi using the force. Its on/off function is activated by your hand’s motion. Simply wave your hand over it to turn it on and off without ever touching it.
The lamps lighting control offers 12 dimmable brightness levels, 2 different lighting modes and 3 unique color settings to give you 36 customizable lighting settings and color temperatures to match any mood or activity. Its memory function also stores your settings for later.
It has an adjustable metal swing arm and a swivel head to give the right amount of light from any position.
The lamp is also designed to protect your eyes, producing a non-flickering natural light that reduces eye strain when working and/or reading for extended periods of time.
Its light reaches 1200 lux. It is designed to last you many years with its improved and durable metal design combined with a 50000 hours LED lamp life without the need for change.
This lamp beautifully matches modern desks, especially aluminum ones. It is made with quality materials with a heavy base for stability.
- Easy assembly straight out the box.
- Touch sensor control.
- Good quality materials.
- Some users have reported problems with the moving joints.
LEPOWER Metal Desk Lamp – Best Affordable Lamp
The LEPOWER metal desk lamp is integrated with a high-quality metal lampshade and base. It is heavy-duty and durable, with strong aesthetic qualities.
This reading lamp offers multiple functions: it can stand on the desk or you can clip it on a surface with the clamp. The max gap of the adjustable clamp is up to an inch so you can clip the lamp onto table or shelves.
It also comes with an E26 sized screw base. Consider using 4W-6W LED light bulbs, 8W-16W energy saving bulbs, or 20W-40W (40W MAX) incandescent bulbs on it.
The LEPOWER Metal Desk Lamp is flexible with an adjustable lamp head. It can be focused on any area you want to and its compact size is also space-saving on the desk. This makes it the perfect lighting accessory for any office space.
Additionally, it is also tall enough that it does not obstruct your work.
- Easy to adjust to desired height and direction.
- Tall enough to be unobtrusive.
- First class customer service.
- Sleek design.
- Some users have reported a loose base connection and flimsy materials.
Phive LED Desk Lamp – Best Overall Winner
The Phive LED modern desk lamp is an ideal lamp for protecting your eyes. It has close to daylight illumination and color temperature, via a diffusion panel emitting soft light without ghost, glare or flicker.
The lamp has step-less dimming or memory of brightness, meaning you can adjust it freely and keep your settings for the next time you use it.
It has a highly adjustable 180° swivel lamp head, 16.3+16.3 inches adjustable metal arm, and a rotatable body. The lamps strong clamp supports up to 2.36 inches tabletop.
It is made with high energy efficiency LED and has a long lifespan of up to 50,000 hours.
When you purchase this lamp, you get 1 x Desk Lamp, 1 x Metal Clamp (up to 2.36inch), 1 x Arm Adjust Tools,1 x User Manual,1 x Power Adapter, unfortunately no usb port.
- Good dimmable and diffuse control.
- Strong hold over chosen positions.
- High standard of build and mechanics.
- Strong clasp/clamp.
- Strong LED bulb.
- Retains dimmer setting.
- Highly adjustable.
- No horizontal rotate (tilt) function.
- Can get warm over prolonged periods of time.
BenQ e-reading led desk lamp – Best For Anti-Glare
The BenQ e-reading LED Desk Lamp is a unique desk lamp that comes packed with many additional extras, with one of its most unique features being its color changing temperature control system.
While this won’t change the physical temperature of the lamp itself, it does control its color, which ranges from 2700K to 5700K. This together with its level of brightness, can be automatically controlled to match the light levels of your desk space and surrounding environment.
Out of the box, the lamp is easily assembled in just a few minutes, and once in position provides excellent stability via its weighted base and aluminum and zinc alloy construction.
Turned on and controlled via BenQ’s innovative on/off touch method, it has a light range of 35 inches, which is approximately 150% more than regular lamps.
In terms of arm and the head positioning, the lamp can be rotated through 360 degrees and be easily increased or decreased in height.
When in use, the varied levels of illumination provide a flicker or glare free user experience, making it very smooth and comfortable on the eyes, and thus reducing the risk of eye strain.
- It has a beautiful and practical design. The head has been designed to look appealing while taking into account the functionality of the light.
- The light head can do a complete 360 degree turn which gives you a lot of flexibility.
- The arm height is fully adjustable and flexible.
- It has an automatic dimmer that reacts to the ambience in a room.
- It has a 35-inch range allowing it to cover a wider section, 150% more than regular lights.
- It does not flicker or glare.
- It is rather pricey.
Swing Arm Desk Lamp – Best For Design Quality
The Swing Arm LED desk lamp is designed with an architect in mind. It has a flexible swing arm and swiveled shade (3-point adjustable) that can be easily positioned for focused, directional lighting.
It has an extensive 40″ long reach that easily lights up the entire desk surface, weighs 1.85 pounds and is 17.5 x 14 x 2 inches in size, making highly adaptable and suitable for a var array of desk sizes.
It has a voltage of 24V, 0.5A and 9 watts and uses LED light bulbs with a luminous flux of 900. The lamp does not use batteries, nor has a charging port, and comes with a cord that’s plugged directly into a power source.
It has a flicker-free even light that keeps it clear of shadows, halos, and troublesome glares. It also has a memory function and stepless dimming with adjustable color temperatures (3000-5500K, warm to white) that make it ideal for any occasion.
Featuring a one click to eye-care reading mode, plus 10/40 minutes timer, this uses an attached clamp to mount easily to any desk, table, shelf, or vertical and horizontal surface.
This LED desk lamp has high-efficiency 98 LEDs which consume 80% less energy than conventional bulbs and again lasts for up to 50,000 hours without the need of replacing. This means a much lower electricity bill and a much less carbon footprint.
The Swing Arm Lamp is beautiful, minimal, and durable, with a range of light temperatures and dimmable ranges.
- Good color variations and tones of light.
- Sturdy construction.
- Very easy to setup.
- No flickering.
- Adjustable to almost any desired angle.
- The lightbulb is not replaceable.
- Some may find the power cord too short.
BenQ Screenbar Plus – Most Unobtrusive Desk Lamp
The BenQ screen bar plus is a unique LED lamp that sits unobtrusively on top of any desktop monitor, no matter how thin the surround.
Powered via a USB connection, the non-glare angle lighting ensures that there is no eyestrain when in use, however it is important to note that this is a long LED lamp that provides light to only the immediate zone of your working area.
There are two versions of the BENQ screen bar plus. The first version comes with a control dial while the other has the dials upon the bar itself. The control dial allows you to choose the color temperature and brightness, which range from 2700K to 6500K.
Simple to assemble and disassemble, the BenQ Screen Bar also provides the option of automatically adjusting the intensity of the light depending on the ambience of the room.
- Very minimal in appearance.
- Provides an eye-friendly and focused light.
- There is an automatic feature that adjusts the light according to the ambience in the room.
- Using the controller, you can easily adjust the brightness and color temperature from 2700K to 6500K.
- It can be powered using a desktop monitor or the computer itself without the use of an extra source of power.
- It is rather expensive when compared to other similar lamps.
- The length of the cable between connecting USB cable is about 4.75 feet which might be a bit short in some instances.
The desk lamp
Lamps are meant to perform one basic function: the general lighting of a particular space, and they achieve this by providing regulated ambient light that can often be adjusted to suit general mood and atmosphere. All in all, lamps brighten the rooms they are in without drawing attention to themselves.
A desk lamp, on the other hand, is a smaller type of lamp that performs a niche function: it lights up a desk or table space via specific targeted lighting. As a result, desk lamps are an absolute must have for architects, students, design professionals, and generally anyone who works for long hours on a desk or drawing table.
Although they are simple utility tools, good desk lamps can be hard to come by, and can be identified how they have been designed to eliminate irritation, reduce eye strain and cancel any symptoms associated with them.
Good desk lamps should also enhance their users’ productivity and put them in a great mood to work.
What to consider before buying
Regardless of the nature of your work, selecting the perfect desk lamp for your work space can be quite a daunting task. This is because there are a wide variety of types and specifications available, with a wide variety of qualities and features.
Therefore, understanding what your needs are and what makes you comfortable is the first step to buying the best lamp, and with the large number of designs, various features and functionalities, there is undoubtedly a product to suit every purpose.
So how can you identify a specific one? Here are some of the factors you need to keep in mind and look out for:
Every desk lamp performs one specific function: they provide light to help you perform a set task. This is called task lighting. However, different tasks require different levels of light for optimum performance. Which is why you need to have a clear idea of exactly why you need a lamp.
Will you be performing general tasks? Or will you be performing detail-oriented tasks such as drawing? The right lighting to match your tasks will reduce eye strain while boosting positive mood and productivity.
The amount of light
There is no proof that long term exposure to poor lighting causes eye complications. However, when you work under poor lighting conditions, it is going to have short term issues such as headaches and/or severe eye strain, which could lead to long term discomfort.
Luckily, all this can be avoided by simply selecting a lamp with the right level of illumination. Ideally, you need to have one that evenly spreads light across your entire work space.
The standard light distribution of a good desk lamp is about 30-50 foot-candles. The light output can also be measured in lumens, which translates to around 1000 to 4000 lumens to make your eyes comfortable while working.
The placement of the desk lamp will also help to determine how much light you are receiving. This will in turn affect your eyes’ comfort at your work station.
You need to place the lamp at around 15-36 inches from your work area. A good number of desk lamps today have adjustable arms that allow them to be altered to desired heights.
The side at which you place your desk lamp is also crucial. Right-handed people need to place their desk lamps on the left-hand side of their desks while left-handed people need to do the opposite. This kind of setup tremendously reduces shadows cast across your desk.
LED desk lamps
An LED desk lamp can be the best solution for your workspace for several reasons, not least of which being the fact that they produce much less heat compared to other light sources, and will therefore make your work area cooler and more comfortable.
Additionally, they also come in many sleek designs. They are personalizable, and handle a lot better when compared to other types of lamps. LED lamps produce directional light, which is a concentrated beam of light. This means that they do not produce light in all directions, instead focusing the light only where you need it.
Therefore, LED bulbs are efficient, producing light without glare or stray light that shines back into the users’ eyes.
Generally, LED lights last up to 50,000 hours. For this reason, they can be initially more expensive than their competitors, however this is later far outweighed by fewer replacements being required.
Desk lamp features
Before settling on a specific lamp, you need to carefully consider the features that come with it.
Many modern lamps come with unique elements such as dimmer switches and alternative outputs, while others may be unique designs and shapes that will need to work together with the exiting space and decor it will be placed within.
Additionally, the height and flexibility of your lamp also needs to be taken into consideration, and you should aim for a flexible lamp with maximum adjustable flexibility.
You also need to look at the kind of levels of brightness you are getting out of your new lamp. You need to purchase one that will offer a comfortable amount of light. This is something that is dictated by the type of bulb the lamp has.
Material and build
It hopefully goes without saying that desk lamps come in a vast array of different materials and finishes, with the most common being steel, wood, and plastic. We advise that you steer clear of all plastic products and instead opt for a hardwearing and durable steel option.
Light bulb type
As mentioned above, the type of bulb you choose dictates the light color, level and range of output you receive from your lamp, and should be based on the task it is required for and its location. In almost all instances, and LED bulb should be chosen.
Lamps can come with a variety of different lighting modes and adjustments. The most popular include dimmable controls for managing the brightness levels, through to flexible head and height adjustments.
For many users dimmable controls will not be necessary, however we recommend that you at the very least choose a product with a flexible head adjustment.
Your workspace and environment will determine how big your desk lamp should be, as will the type of work and the purpose it is required for.
Small lamps are good for small targeted areas or where low level ambient light is required, while larger lamps are able to cover a greater work area such as a drawing board or large desk.
Lamp design is ultimately a personal choice, and above we have selected what we consider to be a summary of well designed products. However, in general you should select a lamp that fits and works with your interior decor and color scheme.
A lamps levels of brightness is determined by the type of bulb it uses, and therefore the level you require will be dependant on the type of activity it will be used for and the overall size of the lamp head and arm.
For example a large desk lamp that might sit above the user and their workspace would require a brighter bulb than a smaller and lower lamp.
Not all desk lamps are made to be energy efficient. Incandescent desk lamps consume more energy compared to LED desk lamps. Before purchasing a lamp, make sure you do good research on its energy consumption.
Price and warranty
The kind of lamp you get will be determined by the budget you have. In most cases, inexpensive lamps lack many features when compared to expensive ones. You should also go for lamps that come with a warranty, since it will be protected in case it malfunctions.
Types of lighting
Most if not all the above desk lamps provide a dimmer control and a selection of varied color temperatures for maximum control over the type of lighting you choose to have over your deskspace.
A high level of control means that each lamp can adjust and cater for just about any lighting scenario, and for those that don’t know, there are three main types that need to be considered; task, ambient and accentuate.
Task – Task lighting provides illumination to a particular space where a ‘task’ (job) is taking place, and assists with its completion by providing a bright and directional light over the user and their workspace.
Ambient – Ambient illumination provides atmospheric and mood lighting to a particular space, an example might be a table lamp in a lounge or a bar area.
Accentuate – Accentuate lighting, as the name suggests accentuates its subjects and is commonly used to illuminate artwork or a particular part of an object and/or room.
Although desk lamps are predominantly brought to provide task lighting, they can also be particularly useful for both ambient and accentuated lighting when positioned within a room where other activities aside from work take place.