Reviewed: Our four favourite energy-saving LED lamps
Whether you’re working, reading or painting Warhammer miniatures, you need good light.
However, a traditional incandescent or fluorescent lamp is no longer the go-to choice. LED desk lamps are an energy efficient alternative that offer a lot of upside.
With low power draw, longevity and high-tech appeal, we’re approaching the point where LED desk lights are the rule, rather than the exception.
We’ve written this article to help you narrow down your choices. We’ve identified what is (in our opinion) the best LED office desk lamp for light quality, ease of use, and energy efficiency, along with three alternatives. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each model.
We’ll also cover basic info on light-emitting diodes, desirable qualities, and stuff to avoid. Read on!
Why a (good quality) LED desk lamp is your best bet
LEDs offer significant advantages over incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, including the following.
-Low Power Requirements:
LED desk lamps have a big energy savings advantage over older tech. They use far less power than incandescent bulbs, and they even beat fluorescents.
Every kilowatt-hour counts. Over weeks, months and years, a highly-efficient LED light on your office desk can make a big dent in your bills.
Light-emitting diodes have an incredible lifespan. With no filaments and little heat, they last at least 20 times longer than an incandescent.
They basically don’t burn out, they simply get dimmer. High-end LEDs can last for decades.
-Fantastic, Customizable Light Quality:
The light produced by LED desk lamps is among the best you’ll find. Since LEDs can be altered via onboard software, you can get both warm and cold light from the same diode.
Additionally, there is no high-speed ‘flicker’ on a good-quality LED lamp, unlike fluorescent tubes. Cheaper lamps have flicker, so watch out.
-Compact and Portable:
Light emitting diodes are tiny; each one can be as small as a grain of rice. That means that a desk light with LED bulbs can be extremely small, compact and attractive. Why clutter up your precious desk space with a huge, bulky lamp?
Our Top Pick:
I gave the lamps I looked at points based on electrical efficiency, usability, brightness & colour, and price. After considering all those factors, one narrowly won out as the winner.
1) BenQ ScreenBar: Space-efficient LED desk light designed for computer monitors
Pros: Uses no additional desk space, highly adjustable, auto-adjust, no screen glare, USB power source
Cons: Limited ability to position it
Energy Efficiency: The ScreenBar uses a maximum of 5w, the upper limit for USB power source.
I’m using a BenQ Screenbar right now, it’s illuminating my keyboard as I type. It’s an absolutely brilliant, indispensible LED lamp for a computer desk because it has no footprint.
The unique, counterweighted, monitor-mounted design hangs on a flat-screen and illuminates everything below. It does this with no screen glare, which is rare. (It works great for curved monitors too.)
The ScreenBar’s light is highly adjustable; you can dial in both colour and brightness.
If you’re not fond of making those adjustments yourself, it has an auto-adjust feature which senses the current room brightness and sets the light perfectly. I always have this feature on because it works so well.
The only downside? You can’t really position the Screenbar to illuminate anything other than what’s directly under your monitor. That’s rarely a problem, it has a phenomenal light spread and lights up my entire desk.
Three Other Options
The Screenbar is outstanding and rated the highest across my tests, coming out highest for energy efficiency, easy of use and light quality. That said, it’s pricier and has some drawbacks in certain applications. It requires a flatscreen monitor, for example.
So, here are three others that also rated highly.
2) PRISM: A budget-priced LED Desk Lamp with Anti-Glare
Pros: Relatively affordable, anti-glare filter, enormous lifespan
Cons: Light colour is on the warmer side
Energy Efficiency: The Prism draws a mere 8.37W
An affordable, powerful LED desk lamp with touch controls, the PRISM TL-4300 desk lamp is a favorite of mine.
When compared to lights with similar features, it’s a bargain at well under $100.
Yes, that may be a bit more than a conventional lamp, but keep in mind this one is rated to last 25 years, and it uses a fraction of the energy of a similar product with a conventional bulb.
It has a neat feature where it folds up like a nightlight. It also sports touch controls with 3 levels of dimming.
The light quality is phenomenal because it’s specially tuned with an anti-glare filter so it’s soothing on your eyes as you work or read. The fact that it has a 3-year manufacturer warranty is reassuring too. This is one of the best desk lamps with LED features out there.
3) Softech: A clamp-style swivel lamp with gorgeous light
Pros: Articulated arm and orbital action makes positioning a breeze, folds up, powerful light
Cons: The most expensive on the list
Energy Efficiency: The Softech DL100PH pulls 11w, but it’s also the brightest.
Softech’s deeply adjustable lamp was another that scored superbly. It’s the brightest lamp I checked out, a truly high-powered LED desk lamp. (But it still uses just 11 watts when cranked up to max. I love LEDs!)
The Softech looks amazing. There’s little need for a big, hefty bulb fixture, and they took advantage. The silhouette is positively spritely, and it folds up and tucks away.
The clamp won’t work on all desks, but it fits mine perfectly. That saves you valuable worktop space, which I am very into.
They make claims of this lamp having “sunlight-like” quality, I’m not sure about that. It is highly adjustable, however, and you can set it from very cold blue to ultra yellow and everywhere in between. There are several preset “modes” for reading, etc.
It ain’t exactly cheap, but this clamper is one of the best LED desk lights, and it reviews extremely well as a result.
4) MoKo: A highly affordable, energy-saving LED office lamp
Pros: Low power draw, foldable, sleek, wallet-friendly price tag
Cons: Not quite as adjustable / feature rich
Energy Efficiency: The MoKo uses just 6W total
Not everyone can afford a $100+ price tag, and that’s fine. There are good buys in the sub-$50 range. The trick is to avoid the biggest issues plaguing inexpensive LED desk lamps: flicker and inefficiency.
The MoKo is a very attractive and budget-friendly LED lamp, with a modern, minimalist style that I’m rather enamoured with. It’s not as feature-rich, but what it does, it does well.
It’s adjustable vertically to almost 180 degrees, and boasts a sleek, tube-style design and slick recessed buttons.
The light quality is above average in this range, and you can adjust the colour quality from warm to cool in addition to brightness. That light is also flicker-free; if you find fluorescent lights fatiguing, this shouldn’t cause you any issues.
And it’s efficient. With low byproduct heat and an energy usage of just 6W, it’s a real energy saver.
One note: it’s a bit larger than you might expect. The bar extends over 16 inches.
Why Do LED Desk Lights Save So Much Energy?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, LEDs are hugely energy efficient. When you compare a 6 watt LED lamp to a 60 watt light bulb, there’s just no contest.
The simplest way to understand it is: incandescent bulbs produce light by running an electric current through a metal filament, which heats up and glows, producing light.
Sometimes, that’s augmented by a sealed gas, which you may know as halogen bulbs. Halogens are slightly more efficient, but neither style of incandescent bulb are terribly easy on your electricity bill.
Why? Most of the energy pumped into a fluorescent bulb is lost to heat. That’s why you shouldn’t remove a bulb right after switching off the light. As much as 90% of the energy is lost as heat. That seems crazy to me.
Why Do People Still Use Incandescent Bulbs, Then?
Light quality! Until very recently, the only alternative (aside from candles) were fluorescents. But those flicker at a high rate, and tend to produce a cooler, more sterile light. Great for offices and hospitals, but not so cozy at home.
Luckily for us, LED lights now produce awesome light quality too.