What should I look for in an LED lamp?

Let there be light! Let's face it, we humans need light to see, so it's inevitable that you're going to need a lamp on your desk to provide you with some extra... well, light. But not all lamps are created equal, so we've put together a little guide to help you know what to look for in a lamp and why you should care.

Light source:

Today it's getting hard to find anything other than an LED lamp, and there's nothing wrong with that, LED's are great. They're small, cheap, efficient, last a long time, and they don't produce an excessive amount of heat. But just because it's an LED lamp doesn't mean it's a good LED lamp. First we need to break down how the LED or LED's deliver their light, which can be broken down to three distinct types of LED lamps: Single Source, Thin Film or Side Fire, and Array.

Let's start with the one to avoid: Array. Array is the oldest of the three types, and as its name implies it delivers light by using an array of multiple lower powered LED's that are generally exposed on the underside of the lamp. The main drawback to an array style lamp is that every LED in the array produces its own shadow, so if you are writing under the lamp on a pad of paper you'll notice several shadows being cast, This can become visually distracting and potentially stressful on your eyes.

The $440 Pablo Design / Haworth BRAZO Lamp is an example of an Array LED lamp. Illustrated here to show you how the 18 LED singlefile array creates 18 shadows.

The $440 Pablo Design / Haworth BRAZO Lamp is an example of an Array LED lamp. Illustrated here to show you how the 18 LED singlefile array creates 18 shadows.

To solve this problem manufacturers took two different approaches; the simplest was single source LED's - basically it's just one giant and super powerful LED that replaces the several in an array. Since it's only a single LED it only casts one shadow. The only drawback is that single source LED lamps are generally more expensive, but the trade-off is that they produce a very nice uniform light. The second approach to solving the problems of the array comes in the form of the thin film or side fire LED light source. This technology does still use an array of LED's, but to combat the shadow problems the LED's are diffused, the light from each LED is projected into essentially a pice of glass and a diffuser which creates a uniform distribution of the light with no hot spots, thus creating only one soft shadow.

Single source LED

Single source LED

Thin Film LED Technology

Thin Film LED Technology

Similar to Thin Film LED's, OLED or Organic Light Emitting Diode's are being employed in lamps, similar to what you'd find in LG tv's, OLED is an up and coming technology. OLED panels produce the closest artificial light source to natural sunlight and render colors with amazing accuracy. The OLED panel provides rich, evenly diffused light across the work surface. Even after hours of operation, the OLED panel produces very little heat so it is always safe to touch.

OLED lamps are also incredibly thin.

OLED lamps are also incredibly thin.

A few more things to look for in an LED lamp:

Lumens, often referenced on specifications as lm, lumens are a unit of measure for the amount of light produced. The larger the number the more light the lamp produces. We recommend lamps with high lumen outputs and an integrated dimmer should you not want the lamp to be too bright. Keep in mind that you can always dim a lamp, but you can never make it brighter.

Dimmer: Having a dimmer enables you to dial in the exact amount of light you want based upon your current situation. With a dimmer you get to be Goldilocks; not too bright, not too dim, just right.

PIR or Passive InfaRed sensors: They can save energy and you won't need to look for the power switch on your lamp. Once you sit-down at your desk the PIR sensor will detect you and automatically turn the lamp on, and when you leave your desk the lamp will automatically timeout and turn off.

CRI or Color Rendering Index, is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source i.e. the sun. So the higher a CRI on the scale from 0-100 the more accurate colors will look.

Color Temperature, not to be confused with CRI, color temperature is the color of the light being produced measured in Kelvin. Incandescent lightbulbs generally are in the 2400K range and have a more orange cast to them. Daylight, depending upon atmospheric conditions, ranges from 5000K upward and has a slight blue cast to it. In the past you had to pick a single color temperature for your lamp, however today more and more manufacturers are offering lamps with a variable color temperature. Generally speaking a lamp in the 3000K range produces a pleasant color of light.

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Integrated USB chargers: Yes it can be nice to have a charger built into your lamp, but keep in mind that it is possible for the integrated USB charger to go bad long before your lamp does. Also most lamps haven't switched to the newer USB power standards and feature only a 1A charger. That's not going to charge most iPads and will only provide a slow charge to your phone, not to mention the new USB-C power standard that is now rolling out on devices. Our opinion, if you want integrated USB power look for a lamp that currently supports the latest USB-C power standard, otherwise think of it as a nice bonus feature that you shouldn't rely on.


Officing's LED lamp picks:

 

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Workrite Natural OLED Desk Light

Workrite’s Natural Desk Light features an Organic Light Emitting Diode (or OLED) panel that is unbelievably thin and lightweight, making it the perfect choice for creating this sleek, modern design.

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Steelcase dash Light

Light matters. Featuring clean lines, fluid movement and a timeless aesthetic, dash provides optimal lighting in nearly every environment. Yielding a soft consistent pool of light which “falls off” considerably less than other LED lamps. With 2 pivot points on the dash light, it is infinitely flexible to provide light right where you need it. It is rated to 50,000 hours of life and has a replaceable head. Available in a wide range of colors, it can provide a splash of color to the room or it can blend in – the choice is yours.

 

dash Light

dash mini

 
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Humanscale Element Vision

With cutting edge advancements like MCX LED technology, the Element Vision task light offers a generous foot-print of glare free illumination in a single light source - not commonly found in LED computer lamps. Element Vision provides the same effortless functionality found in all Humanscale task lights, moving fluidly without the need for knobs, switches or springs. 

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Budget buy: TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp

  • Comfortable, flicker-free and ghost-free lighting for reading/work/study; pleasant on the eyes, causes less fatigue

  • Touch control with 5 color modes (temperature) to choose from, dimmable with 7 level of brightness to suit your activities

  • Modern design that will naturally fit your desk / room / furniture; rotatable arm and lamp head, made from durable plastic and aluminum alloy

  • Energy efficient, cost 75% less energy than incandescent lighting for the same level of brightness. USB Charging port to charge smartphones, tablets, or an eReader

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Lightcorp Amble

Designed for versatility, Amble defies gravity with its three-position base allowing for graceful, sweeping movement in any direction using a single hand. Created by renowned designer, Stephan Copeland, its ergonomic design produces three distinct pools of illumination— ranging from ambient to concentrated. Smooth to the touch with no joints or hinges, Amble's lean silhouette features intuitive single touch on/off and touch-and-hold continuous dimming, all encompassed within its minimal footprint. Optional features such as an occupancy sensor and USB charging makes it ideal for any environment.