Best Desk Lamp of 2020
If you're looking to get the absolute most out of a desk lamp, it's hard to beat the TaoTronics TT-DL16. This device offers a high degree of adjustability and features galore. The TT-DL16 has a memory function that allows you to set your favorite brightness and color and return to it using only one button. This lamp can pivot, bend, and twist with its various elbows to position it in just about any desk lighting configuration that you can think of, and it includes a secondary night light to give a little light even when the lamp is not in use. The TT-DL16 also sports a sweet 5V/2A USB port — many lamps only offer a 1A plug, which can substantially slow down charging times for your devices.
The TaoTronics TT-DL16 is not without its flaws. It's pricey — if you're shopping for necessary illumination on a fixed budget, this is not the best choice. We also discovered that the swivel on the base is incredibly hard to get to cooperate. The TT-DL16 lacks any sort of recoil while adjusting the elbows on the lamp body. It certainly takes two hands, so if effortless adjustability is crucial for you, it might make more sense to go with a lamp that is easier to dial in. Still, we think that the TT-DL16 is one of the best desk lamps that we've ever gotten to test, and we'd recommend it to anyone who wants the best possible quality in this product category.
The TaoTronics TT-DL213 is another choice if you're in the market for a model with a USB port and multiple lighting modes. It's great that it has so many different adjustable physical settings — the base swivels' central mount, 45 degrees, and the joint pivots 135 degrees. The lamp head itself can also pivot 135 degrees and twist 90 degrees. The TT-DL213 offers seven different brightness levels with five different colors. The base diameter is a mere 7 inches to occupy a small area on most desks.
We noticed that it was hard to tell which mode the light was in with this model during our tests. We also aren't huge fans of the fact that you need to hold the power button down for two seconds to turn this light off — it feels much more convenient just to tap a power button and walk away. The TT-DL213 is not quite as sturdy as many of the other lights in our review. It tends to tip over if you move the lamp head too far backward. Still, we think this a good model for those that are looking for a lamp that has a USB port, several brightness settings, and a variety of color choices.
Wireless charging is the way of the future, and the TaoTronics TT-DL038 is Qi wireless enabled and is ready for your cordless charging needs. If your devices are compatible, the TT-DL038 can provide inductive charging to power up your smartphone, tablets, or smartwatches without any cords or plugs. We love that the touch controls on the TT-DL038 are exceptionally responsive — they didn't give us any trouble during our testing phase. The lamp stays very cool. Although the temperature may not seem like a huge deal, if you're working long hours with the lamp close to your face or in a confined workspace, it's nice to know that you won't be getting cooked by your light source.
We were a bit disappointed that the TL-DL038's USB port can only charge at 1 Amp. With a modern ingenuity piece as sophisticated as this model is, we would've liked to have seen it with a bit more power output. The lights for the buttons also aren't very easy to see, so you may have to squint to see the controls or just end up memorizing them. Regardless of these shortcomings, we still think the TaoTronics TT-DL038 is the best choice for wireless charging.
For those that prefer a clamp-on style desk light over a lamp with a larger footprint, we recommend checking out the Globe Electric 56963. Its large clamp opening should fit the vast majority of desktops, and it's a straightforward system to operate and mount. This model can extend to a maximum height of 32 inches, making it perfect for projects that require extra space. The spring-assisted articulating elbows on the 56963 make it notably easy to adjust with one hand. This lamp also has an extra-long 6 ft cord that reduces the potential need for an extension cord to get it positioned in your workspace.
However, the Globe Electric lacks touch controls, a USB plug, or adjustable light levels or colors. There's also no getting around the fact that the 56963 is enormous — this is one of the bulkiest models that we've gotten our hands on. That said, if you're in the market for a clamp-style desk or workshop lamp, it's hard to beat the simplicity and adjustability of the Globe Electric 56963.
The best thing about the LEPower Metal is its simplicity. This model offers a decent degree of malleability and is easy to use. Its pleasantness stems from its lack of extraneous features, ports, touch controls, and the fact that it uses basic household light bulbs. It's also fantastic for the designers to incorporate heat dissipation holes into the lamp head's upper side. This model is very compact — with a 5 ¾" diameter base and a maximum height of 18 ⅛". Overall, we found the LEPower to be very easy to operate.
We did discover that the LEPower is shorter than many of the other models in our review. If you want maximum vertical flexibleness out of your lamp, this is not the one. The LEPower Metal also casts some relatively coarse shadows thanks to its use of traditional bulbs, and it lacks variable light settings. If you want a more customizable model, it will make sense to go with a higher-end product. That said, if all you're looking for is a simple light source, we think the LEPower is a solid choice.
When it comes to getting the most value out of one of these appliances, it's hard to beat the Lampat LED. This model comes equipped with light-up buttons on a minimalist body with five brightness levels and four lighting modes. We're happy the designers thought to include a 1-hour auto-off for those times when you're too tired to remember to worry about the light. This model has a 5V/1A USB charging port that can be very useful for charging various USB powered devices.
The Lampat is a bit difficult to get adjusted to the perfect spot — the recoil preloaded into the elbows seems to be a bit much to deal with compared to other models. Still, considering the features and settings, we think it's hard to top this model at this low price.
We love that the iVict Clip-On LED has so many different light settings — it features ten different brightness levels combined with three different light temperature settings. This light should easily suit your illumination level, setting needs between the warm light, warm-white light, and white light options. It's also highly portable and would easily fit in a briefcase or messenger bag along with your laptop, which makes it an excellent choice for those who are always traveling or working on the road.
Out of all the desktop clamp models in our review, we found the iVict Clip-On LED to be a bit unstable, and it had us a bit worried it was going to damage our test desk. We are also not thrilled that the controls for this device are on the power cable. More modern models have all of the controls bundled up on the unit itself using a touch management system. The lighting produced by the iVict is relatively weak at its brightest setting. This would not be the best choice for the main office lamp, but it might make sense to be used as a reading lamp positioned next to a comfy chair.
The TROND LED is a decent clamp-style desk lamp. We like its flexible pipe neck and integrated memory with a three-level dimmer. This product is not made to be clipped onto books — it is a full-sized task lamp. It's great that this model has three different brightness levels. We measured this lamp with lux ratings of 200, 440, and 761 in its various settings.
We would've liked to have seen a bit more padding on the clip to protect the desk. It's also a bit awkward to hold the power button down for so long to turn this model off. The detachable 92-inch cord might seem like a good idea on paper, but realistically the cord connection just adds more parts and more things to lose.
It's very cool that the JUKSTG 14W LED has four different lighting color options. We also like that it has seven different dimming levels to best match the given situation. Touch controls are always a plus, and we are fans of the 1-hour time off mechanism that helps keep your power bill low. This device also has multi-angle adjustments for optimized lighting on the lamp head, the elbow, and the foot.
Sadly, we found many flaws with the JUKSTG 14W LED. First, it has a cheap feel to it overall — this lamp seems delicate and poorly constructed. We also noticed that this model's controls are nearly impossible to read due to the light's glare. This model seems to get unusually hot — be careful when moving it around. It's also a bit awkward to move in general. There isn't much to grab onto, and the lamp tends to want to fold in on itself. We found it tricky to get the knobs tight enough to keep the JUKSTG from collapsing.
The Simple Designs LD1003 is your run of the mill, bare lamp. We appreciate this model's small footprint — its circular base is only five inches in diameter. The LD1003 has a neck that is easily flexed into the desired position, making it a good choice for those who are continually adjusting their lamp.
Unfortunately, compared to modern-style versions of these products, the Simple Designs doesn't seem quite up to date. This appliance lacks any sort of touch controls, USB hubs, or wireless charging capabilities. It uses standard bulbs, which might be ideal for some people, but at GearLab, we prefer LEDs that last longer and consume less energy. The LD1003 showed up to the lab looking pretty thrashed — ours arrived banged up and dirty. Despite its flaws, we think that the Simple Designs LD1003 is still a decent choice for someone that is looking for the most elementary design in a desk lamp.
Why You Should Trust Us
To evaluate desk lamps, we created a team composed of our senior research analyst Austin Palmer and one of our strongest tech product review editors Ross Patton. Austin has tested hundreds of products at GearLab since the inception of the company and is no stranger to what head-to-head, unbiased comparison means. Ross has been in product research & development for more than ten years, and with a formal education in environmental science, you can bet that he is no stranger to lab practices. Ross's education, coupled with Austin's experience, makes for the perfect no-holds-barred evaluation of desk lamps.
We flicked, switched, twisted, and adjusted these products for many, many hours for weeks. We carefully looked into the various light colors, brightness settings, and extra features that each model offers. We used a laboratory-grade light meter to measure luminosity units and subjectively judged each model's usability level. Finally, we carefully measured the amount of adjustability each model is capable of offering you for the most in-depth desk lamp review possible.
Analysis and Test Results
Our analysis is broken into three individual metrics, which are thoroughly outlined in the sections below. We looked into the degree of adjustability, the size of the area each light can disperse light, and then carefully inspected each model's extra features.
The days of fixed lamps are in the past — we like the idea of being able to bend, flex, and adjust our lighting source into the perfect position for the task at hand. To test this metric, we looked at the degrees of twisting and turning that each lamp's various joints, pivots, and elbows were capable of fine-tuning to and subjectively judged how difficult each one is customized.
Our favorite clamp-style desk lamp in the adjustability department is the Globe Electric 56963. This model features two spring-assisted elbows and a third pivot on the lamp head. With a total maximum height of nearly 3 feet, we think this lamp would make an excellent choice for those with large desks or large documents such as maps or blueprints. Lastly, its extra-large clamp makes it a perfect choice for nearly any desk or workbench.
For models with a foot rather than a clamp, we like the TaoTronics TT-DL16, TaoTronics TT-DL213, and the TaoTronics TT-DL038. All three of these models have two elbows — one of which opens to 145 degrees and another on the upper part of the lamp arm that extends to 120 degrees. The lamp head itself pivots 90 degrees in either direction for instances in which you're like to light up a broader area or a piece of artwork. Finally, the entire arms on these three devices rotate 90 degrees in either direction on the base.
Offering ever so slightly less adjustability than the TaoTronics models is the Lampat LED. The head on this model twists 70 degrees either direction, the entire arm rotates 90 degrees either way on the base, but the body only adjusts by 40 degrees.
Finally, if you're looking for a basic, traditional model that still offers a bit of adjustability, we recommend the LEPower Metal Desk Lamp. This model features a flexible neck that can be bent and twisted into an array of positions.
Coverage & Lighting
To score this metric, we used our expert panel of judges to subjectively assess the brightness, softness, or harshness that each lamp was able to produce. We also looked carefully at each model's various color and power settings. Lastly, we used a laboratory-grade light meter to get some hard data on the amount of illuminance each lamp can emit.
The TaoTronics TT-DL213 is the champion of this metric. This device has five color choices to ensure that the tint is as mellow or as intense as you desire. As far as brightness selections, the TT-DL213 has seven settings that range from 830 to 1310 Lux.
The Lampat LED Desk Lamp is a close runner-up to the TaoTronics TT-DL213 in the coverage & lighting department. We love that this model offers four different light color options — reading, study, relax and sleep. In addition to the color options, it also has five individual brightness settings so you can set your lighting to the perfect ambiance and a night light on the side of the lamp head for when the main bulbs are not in use. When we broke out the light meter, we were very impressed with the Lampat LED. At its highest setting, this model achieved 1715 lux.
Next on our list of favorites in this metric is the TaoTronics TT-DL038. At its highest brightness setting, the light meter showed 1525 lux emitted from this device. This model offers a great degree of coverage and plenty of light settings — the TT-DL038 has five brightness settings, five color settings, and a night light as a bonus.
The Taotronics TT-DL16 puts out plenty of light to fully illuminate a desk. This lamp has six different brightness levels and an array of five colors. We measured 1165 lux emitted from the TT-DL16 at its highest setting.
As far as clamp-style versions go, we are fans of the coverage offered by the Globe Electric 56963. Thanks to its large degree of adjustability, specifically regarding height, it is easy to set it to light up a larger area. This model lacks any adjustable settings, and the level of brightness will entirely depend on the type of bulb you get.
To gauge features, we carefully inspected each model and tested all of the framework's bonus bits that the designers thought to add. There was a large degree of variance between the desk lamps in this metric as some lights have one simple switch, while others have touch controls, USB ports, and even wireless charging capabilities for your phone or other Qi-enabled devices.
Leading the pack for this metric are the TaoTronics TT-DL038 and TaoTronics TT-DL213. These models both have light-up touch controls for the brightness and color settings, and we love that they remember the setting when it is turned off and back on again. The TT-DL038 has a 60-minute timer and a 5V/1A USB port. Best of all, this model offers wireless charging for any device that is Qi-charging capable.
Another TaoTronics product with a ton of awesome features is the TT-DL16. With a 5V/2A USB port, you can rest assured that your devices will charge rapidly while plugged into this model. Just like the TT-DL038, this desk lamp has a memory function that will restore the light to the settings upon power up — it also has a "favorites" feature where you can set it to your exact preferred color and brightness with the touch of one button.
For those looking for a slightly simpler version that still offers a few extras, we recommend the Lampat LED. This model has light-up buttons that make it easy to determine which mode you are in. The Lampat also features a 5V/1A USB port and the capability to set a 60-minute timer.
Some people are only looking for a bare desk lamp with no frills or added controls. If this sounds like you, we recommend the LEPower as a model with a base or the Globe Electric 56963 for a clamp-style version. Both of these models have a simple switch with one setting, so you won't have to learn how to control yet another electronic device.
We hope that you enjoyed reading our comprehensive desk lamp review. You now have the knowledge to purchase the perfect model for you and your needs, whether you are looking for maximum brightness, the most bells & whistles, or the best budget option. It is our goal at GearLab to offer our readers the utmost degree of professional advice, so come on back and visit us anytime you're faced with a daunting purchasing decision.
— Ross Patton and Austin Palmer