SAD Lights are great and the overwhelming evidence is they work – stats say that 80% of people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder report a marked improvement after light therapy. However with so many different variations out there it can be difficult to pinpoint the best SAD light for you – so I have come up with this buyers’ guide to hopefully help you pick the best SAD light for your needs.
Don’t forget you can also check out my SAD Light Reviews Index for an overview of the SAD lights I have reviewed – it has all of my reviews on one page.
If you are looking for a budget SAD Light
Buying a SAD Light need not mean breaking the bank, there are plenty of cheaper options out there. If you haven’t owned a SAD light before then buying a budget light gives you the opportunity to see if it benefits you without wasting too much money if it has no effect.
In terms of a budget SAD Light I would recommend the Sphere Gadgets Technologies Lightphoria. This comes in at the lower end of the price spectrum but also has a number of extras that give it the edge over other cheaper models.
It is incredibly compact – it is about the size of a thin paperback book and very lightweight, so it is easy to move from room to room or take with you on holiday or to the office. It also has three light intensities you can select from – 5,000 lux, 8,000 lux and 10,000 lux and a timer with three settings – 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 45 minutes.
For a budget light the inclusion of a timer and adjustable light intensity make it my choice.
You could also consider the Verilux Happy Light Liberty Personal 5,000 lux Energy Lamp. This is actually the cheapest of all the SAD lights I have reviewed, but don’t be fooled by the cheap price tag, that is a good light!
It provides only 5,000 lux of light (half the recommended amount) – so you do need to spend longer in front of it to get the same effect as you would from a 10,000 lux model, but it is lightweight, small and compact and very cheap. What is more Verilux have a good brand name amongst SAD lights, so you know you are getting a trusted product.
It you have never owned a SAD light this is a good way to dip your toe in the water without spending too much money.
If you are looking for a blue light SAD Light
The subject of the effectiveness of blue light in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder has come under much scrutiny. Research suggests that the most effective light bandwidth in the full light spectrum when it comes to helping mood relief, depression and getting your sleep cycle back on track is within the blue portion of the spectrum.
So rather than throwing out the whole light spectrum, blue light devices concentrate on the blue part of the spectrum meaning that theoretically you get the same results that white light offers with only a fraction of the exposure.
However critics argue that blue light can cause macular degeneration of the eyes. Also blue light therapy is a relatively new innovation and there is much more research available to support the use of bright white light to treat SAD than there is for blue light.
If you chose to use blue light therapy then my pick is the Philips GoLITE BLU HF3422. It is about the size of a portable CD player and very light. It has three brightness settings, comprehensive individual usage instructions, looks good and is also reasonably priced in comparison to other blue SAD lights.
If you want something that is ultra-portable then you might want to consider the Philips GoLITE BLU HF3429. It is similar to the HF3422 in design and features, but is more expensive. However the reason for this is that it has a rechargeable battery, so you can use it cordlessly giving you more flexibility as to where and when you use it. It also has five light intensities and a timer bar on the front. So if you don’t mind spending a bit more money then go for this over the HF3422.
If you are looking for a cordless SAD Light
The benefit of a cordless SAD light is, of course, you can use it anywhere and are not restricted to having to be near a power supply.
The Circadian Optics Lumos can be powered through a USB port and has a rechargeable lithium battery. In keeping with the ability to operate it without it being connected to a power supply it is small and compact, so it is easy to move around and can be placed pretty much anywhere.
It has three light intensities and the light head itself is really flexible so you can twist it into any position you want really. The battery lasts around seven or eight hours off a full charge and to top it off it is very reasonably priced.
As mentioned above the Philips GoLITE BLU HF3429 is a good alternative. It does however provide blue light, which has been the subject of some conjecture, but it looks good, has adjustable light intensity settings and a timer bar on the front.
If you are looking for a portable SAD Light
The two lights mentioned above are great options, but just because a SAD Light needs to be near a power supply doesn’t mean it isn’t portable. There are plenty of other options as well if you are looking for a light you can move easily from room to room.
There are a number of Verilux SAD lights that hit the mark when it comes to portability, but I am going to opt for the Verilux HappyLight Liberty 7,500 lux. This has a slim profile and weighs less than 2lbs, so it can be moved around easily and will fit anywhere in your home as long as you have a power supply nearby.
It doesn’t supply the recommended 10,000 lux, but does provide 7,500 lux and has two light intensity settings and two lenses which in total offer your four different levels of brightness. It is simple and sturdy and well priced.
The Verilux HappyLight Compact and Happy Light Liberty Personal are also two good alternatives. Although be aware they supply only 2,500 and 5,000 lux of light respectively. But if your case of SAD is not too severe then these are both easy to move around and come from Verilux who make very good light therapy lamps!
If you are looking for a SAD Light with some extra features
There are numerous SAD lights with extra features such as timers and variable light intensity, but my selection takes it even further with an additional feature that makes it quite unique amongst SAD lights…
The clue is in the name when it comes to the Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp – it is the only SAD light that comes with a built-in ioniser!
The idea behind the ioniser is that it releases negatives ions that are supposed to alleviate depression and boost energy. It cleans the air in front of the machine to make it feel more natural and fresh – like you are enjoying a sunny, relaxing day by the sea. Users compare the ioniser to fresh air blowing on a spring morning.
You can turn the ioniser on and off independently of the SAD light – so if you don’t like it all is not lost. The light itself is quite nice and it also comes with a timer and is actually really cheap!
Also by Nature Bright the Sun Bliss 2 in 1 Portable Light Therapy and Wake-Up Light is also a worthy investment. It offers both a wake-up light functionality and a totally separate SAD Light functionality. It has a timer, is well priced and is lightweight and easy to travel with.
If you are looking for a SAD Light with a large light area
For me a SAD Light with a large light area is the best investment of all. A large field of light makes your light therapy sessions easier – you can read, work on your laptop, do craftwork, etc, without worrying about moving out of the light – and more effective as the light will invariably hit your eyes correctly.
I love the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Classic Plus. It has a huge light that measures 16 inches wide by 13 inches tall and 3 inches thick – so it really cranks out a lot of light. It also has telescopic legs so you can raise and lower the light easily and manoeuvre the light so it is in the best position for you and adjustable light levels. All in all it is an excellent light.
If you are looking for a SAD Light that
provides light the right way
The optimal way to receive light therapy is with the light positioned above you and shining down onto your eyes as the special light receptors in your eye are mostly found in the top half of your visual field. This also replicates how the sun hits your eyes in real life. Not that many SAD lights provide this function but those that do are well worth the investment.
I’ve just mentioned it above for its large field of light, but the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky is truly a top quality SAD light. It has a very large field of light and the light quality is fantastic, but best of all it is very well designed. It has a huge articulated arm and adjustable neck so you can move the light into pretty much any position and best of all the light always comes from above for maximum effectiveness.
The Day-Light Sky’s compatriot – the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Classic – just misses out on being my recommendation. Again it has a huge field of light and again the light always comes from above, but it isn’t quite as easy to adjust as the Day-Light Sky. Nonetheless it is an excellent light.
If you just want the best SAD Light
There are a lot of SAD Lights on the market, but taking everything into consideration I’ve come up with what I consider to best the best SAD lights available.
If you are on a slightly tighter budget I would recommend the Verilux HappyLight Liberty 10,000 lux. It comes with two easily interchangeable lenses and two light intensity settings, that give you four different brightness levels. The light is a lovely tone, it is lightweight and portable and it can be titled backwards or forward or even wall mounted to get your light from above.
If you can afford to spend a little more then you really can’t go far wrong with the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Sky. It has a huge area of light and it shines from above – the most effective way to receive light therapy. The light quality is beautiful and it is ultra-adjustable to get the light positioned exactly how you want it.
Also worth considering is the Carex Health Brands Day-Light Classic. Again it has a large area of light and again the light shines from above onto the eyes, it can also be adjusted easily and has two different light levels. It is another top quality light.
Don’t forget you can also take a look at my SAD Light Reviews Index, which has all of my SAD Light Reviews on one page.