We researched more than 30 desk lamps before purchasing the 10 best models to set head-to-head in our comprehensive review. Following our careful selection, we bought every model at full price from the same retailers as our readers to ensure zero bias. To scrutinize each product we divided our scoring metrics into three different categories — adjustability, coverage & lighting, and features. At the end of the day it was clear to see which desk lamps are the best for certain applications, which are the best bargain, and which is the best one overall. Read on below to get a thorough rundown of our findings.
The Best Desk Lamps of 2020
If you are looking to get the absolute most out of a desk lamp, it is hard to beat the TaoTronics TT-DL16. This device offers a high degree of adjustability and possesses features galore. The TT-DL16 has a memory function that allows the user to set their favorite brightness and color to be revisited using only one button. This lamp can pivot, bend, and twist with its various elbows to be used in just about any desk lighting configuration that you can think of, and it includes a secondary night light bulb to give you some light even when the lamp is not in use. It's great that the TT-DL16 has a 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. This model is pricey — if you're shopping for a basic illumination device on a fixed budget this is not the one. We also found that the swivel on the base for this model was especially hard to get to cooperate. The TT-DL16 lacks any sort of recoil while adjusting the elbows on the lamp body. It most definitely 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 versions of these devices that we've ever gotten to test and we'd recommend it to anyone who wants the best possible quality out of this category of product.
Wireless charging is the way of the future — the TaoTronics TT-DL038 is Qi wireless enabled and is ready for your cordless charging needs. If your devices are compatible, the TT-DL038 uses inductive charging to power up your smartphone, tablets, or smartwatches without any cords or plugs at all. We love that the touch controls on the TT-DL038 are exceptionally responsive — they didn't give us any trouble during our testing phase. This lamp stays very cool. The temperature may not seem like a very big deal but if you are 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 appliance.
We were a bit disappointed that the TL-DL038's USB port is only capable of 1A charging. With a piece of modern ingenuity as sophisticated as this model is, we would've liked to have seen it have a bit more power output. The lights for the buttons aren't very easy to see. With this lamp you may end up squinting trying to see the controls or it might be easier to just memorize them. Regardless of this model's shortcomings, we still think that the TaoTronics TT-DL038 is the best choice for wireless charging.
For those that prefer a clamp-on style desk light as opposed to a lamp with a larger footprint we'd say check out the Globe Electric 56963. The large clamp opening should fit the vast majority of desktops and is a very simple system to operate and mount. This model extends 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 in order to get to your workspace.
The Globe Electric does, however, lack features such as touch controls, a USB plug, or adjustable light levels or colors. There's also no getting around the fact that the 56963 is very large — this is one of the bulkier models that we've gotten our hands on. The clamp construction also does not offer much in the way of keeping your desk protected from damage. If you have a desktop that is custom made or has a large degree of sentimental value we would suggest that you go with a lamp that doesn't use a clamp system at all. 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 strengths stem from its lack of extraneous features, ports, touch controls, and the fact that it uses basic household light bulbs. It's fantastic that the designers of this model thought to incorporate heat dissipation holes into the upper side of the lamp head. This model is also very compact — with a 5 ¾" diameter base and a maximum height of 18 ⅛" we found the LEPower to be very easy to deal with.
We did find the LEPower to be 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 fairly coarse shadows thanks to its use of traditional bulbs. This model also lacks variable light settings. If you want a model that is more customizable it would likely make sense to go with a higher-end product. That said if all you're looking for is a basic, simple device 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. It's great that the designers of this model thought to include a 1-hour auto-off for those times that you are too tired to remember to worry about the light. This model includes a 5V/1A USB charging port that can be very useful for charging your 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 when compared to other models. Still, considering the features and settings we think it would be hard to top this model at this low of a price.
We love that the iVict Clip-On LED has so many different light settings — this model has ten different levels of brightness coupled with three different settings for light temperature. Between the warm light, warm-white light, and white light options this light should easily suit all of your illumination level setting needs. This light is also highly portable and would easily fit in a briefcase or messenger bag along with your laptop making it a great choice for those who are constantly traveling and working on the road.
Out of the desktop clamp models in our review, we found the iVict Clip-On LED to be a bit unstable and this model had us a bit worried it was going to damage our test desk. We also were not thrilled that the controls for this device were 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 fairly 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 lamp for the specific purpose of reading.
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 this model has so many different adjustable physical settings — the main mount of the base swivels 45 degrees and the joint pivots 135 degrees. The lamp head itself also pivots 135 degrees and twists 90 degrees. The TT-DL213 has 7 different brightness levels with 5 different colors. The TT-DL213 has a small footprint with a base diameter of 7 inches.
During our assessment, we found that it was hard to tell which mode the light was in with this model. We also were not huge fans of the fact that you need to hold the power button down for two seconds in order to turn this light off — being able to just touch the power button and walk away is much more convenient. 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 light colors.
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 to have a lux rating of 200, 440, and 761 in its various settings.
The clamp-style of this model could damage a desk — there isn't much padding on the clip. It's a bit awkward holding 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 liked 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 save your power bill. 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 of all, it has a cheap feel to it overall — this lamp seems delicate and poorly constructed. We also noticed that the controls on this model are nearly impossible to read from the glare produced by the light itself. 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 very difficult to get the knobs tight enough to keep the JUKSTG from collapsing.
The Simple Designs LD1003 is your run of the mill, basic lamp. We liked that this model has a 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 constantly adjusting their lamp.
Unfortunately, compared to modern-style versions of these products the Simple Designs is not exactly up to date. This appliance is lacking 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 out of 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 a true head-to-head, unbiased comparison means. Ross has been in product research & development for more than 10 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 over the course of weeks. We took a careful look into the various light colors, brightness settings, and extra features that each model offers. We used a laboratory-grade light meter to measure units of luminosity and also subjectively judged the level of usability for each model. Finally, we carefully measured the amount of adjustability each model is capable of offering you the most in-depth desk lamp review possible.
Analysis and Test Results
We broke our analysis 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 is able to disperse light, and then carefully inspected each model's extra features.
The days of having a static illumination device 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 but also subjectively judged how difficult each one is to customize.
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 a great choice for those with large desks or large documents such as maps or blueprints. Lastly, its extra-large clamp makes it a great choice for nearly any desk or workbench.
For models with a foot rather than a clamp we really like the TaoTronics TT-DL16 and the TaoTronics TT-DL038. These models both have two elbows — one of which opens to 145 degrees and another on the upper part of the lamp arm that opens to 120 degrees. The lamp head itself pivots 90 degrees 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 the TT-DL16 and TT-DL038 both rotate 90 degrees either direction on the base.
Offering an ever so slightly lesser degree of 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 Lampat LED Desk Lamp was the champion of this metric. 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 that 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 read 1715 lux.
Next on our list of favorites for 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 an added 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 with the light meter.
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 in regard to height, it is easy to set this model to light up a larger area. This model is lacking 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 bonus bits of the framework that the designers thought to add. There was a large degree of variance between the desk lamps in this metric as some lamps 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 is the TaoTronics TT-DL038. This desk lamp has light-up touch controls for the brightness and color settings, and we love that this device remembers 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 cable.
Another TaoTronics product with a ton of awesome features is the TT-DL16. With 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 lamp 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 a 5V/1A USB port and the capability to set a 60-minute timer.
Some people are only looking for a basic desk lamp with no frills or added controls. If this sounds like you we recommend the LEPower if you want a model with a base or the Globe Electric 56963 if you're looking 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 and that you now have the knowledge to purchase the model that is perfect 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 for all of your product inquiries.
— Ross Patton and Austin Palmer