The 6 best desk lamps for eye strain, small spaces, and more

Desk with 7 lamps standing on it best desk lamp, the best desk lamps in 2022
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Desk lamps provide the task lighting needed to answer emails, read over important documents, take notes, and more. You might be the kind of person who chooses a lamp solely based on its aesthetics, but there are other important factors to consider when shopping for a desk lamp. When picking out your perfect lamp, consider lighting type, light temperature and brightness, and range of movement. 

To find the best desk lamp, I consulted with an ophthalmologist, ergonomists, and engineers and used their insights to narrow my search to seven top-rated products. I tested each for several consecutive days, assessing their design, performance, ease-of-use, and extra features. You can find the details of how we tested, what to look for in a desk lamp, and more here at the end of our guide. Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches home products.

The best desk lamps in 2022

Best desk lamp overall: BenQ e-Reading LED Swing Arm Desk Lamp, $229 at Amazon
Sporting a modern design, the BenQ e-Reading LED Swing-Arm Desk Lamp provides wide light coverage, a large range of motion, and adjustable brightness and temperature settings.

Best budget desk lamp: AmazonBasics Dual Head LED Desk Lamp, $25.14 at Amazon
While its features are limited compared to other desk lamps, the AmazonBasics Dual Head LED Desk Lamp delivers a solid performance at a reasonable price point. 

Best desk lamp for eye strain: Dyson Lightcycle Morph, $649.99 at Dyson
The Dyson Lightcycle Morph automatically adjusts its brightness and light temperature throughout the day based on your precise location, helping to reduce eye strain. 

Best desk lamp with phone charging: Lumicharge II, $109 at Amazon
The Lumicharge II boasts both a universal phone dock and wireless charging pad. 

Best desk lamp for small spaces: TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp, $39.99 at TaoTronics
The TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp has wireless phone charging and a night-light feature, making it suited to dorm rooms or other small spaces.

The best desk lamp overall

white desk lamp with blue light on desk beside large white and black computer monitor, the best desk lamp in 2022
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Sporting a modern design, the BenQ e-Reading LED Swing-Arm Desk Lamp provides wide light coverage, a large range of motion, and adjustable brightness and temperature settings.

Pros: Modern design, numerous warmth settings, tall enough to illuminate desktop computers, a wide range of motion, simple controls

Cons:  Large frame might not suit small spaces

Extending vertically up to 30 inches, the BenQ e-Reading LED Swing-Arm Desk Lamp

stands out because it is significantly larger than the other desk lamps we tested. The lamp's head is mounted on a ball joint so you can pivot it in any direction, and the arm also rotates 360 degrees on the base, making this lamp extremely versatile. Despite its somewhat complex design, the lamp was extremely easy to set up.

The light's head is just over 15 inches in length and casts wider lighting coverage compared to the other desk lamps I tested. It easily illuminated my whole desk, which is 56 inches wide. I rarely needed my usual overhead light.

It's quick and easy to adjust both the brightness and color temperature of the BenQ Desk Lamp. When you press the dial on the light's head and then turn it, you can adjust the color temperature of the light to 12 different settings, the most of any lamp we tested. 

The lamp also has an ambient light sensor, so it automatically adjusts its brightness to suit your environment. I sometimes had to tweak these settings but not by much. Additionally, the BenQ Lamp has a special e-reading mode that helps reduce glare when you're reading on a computer screen. 

This 18-watt lamp isn't Energy Star-certified, but it does have a panel of energy-saving LED lights. It produces an impressive 1,800 lux and the lights provide constant flicker-free illumination to reduce eye strain. Although it was the heaviest lamp we tested, I was never worried about it tipping over, even as I adjusted the arms.

The best budget desk lamp

AmazonBasics Desk Lamp on a brown desk with a Mac laptop and potted plant next to it, best cheap desk lamp in 2022
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$19.98 from Amazon
Originally $24.49Save 18%

While its features are limited compared to other desk lamps, the AmazonBasics Dual Head LED Desk Lamp delivers a solid performance at a reasonable price point. 

Pros: Inexpensive, flexible gooseneck provides a range of motion, split-head design for versatility, three light modes 

Cons: Challenging to adjust the brightness level

If you're looking for an affordable lamp that checks all the boxes, the AmazonBasics Dual Head LED Desk Lamp is a small yet functional option. It stands around 13 to 15 inches tall, depending on how you angle its adjustable gooseneck.

The lightweight lamp comes ready to use out of the box, and has a useful split-head design.  The head provides bright, targeted light when the halves are arranged together, but you can split them apart for more diffused lighting that covers a larger area. Plus, the dual-head design is mounted on a flexible gooseneck that can be adjusted nearly 360 degrees or brought closer to your work surface.

The AmazonBasics Lamp has 48 energy-efficient LED bulbs. There's a button on the base that lets you toggle between three color modes: natural, white, and yellow light. You can also adjust the brightness level by leaving your finger on the power button. I found it  tricky to get the brightness exactly at the desired level, as the sensor isn't quite sensitive enough. 

The only other feature this light offers is a 40-minute timer. Overall, it's a fairly simple lamp with a minimalistic design, but it works well and would make an excellent  addition to a student's desk or other small work spaces.

The best desk lamp for eye strain

Dyson Lightcycle Morph on a brown desk with Macbook pro laptop and white-potted house plant, the best desk lamp to prevent eye strain
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The Dyson Lightcycle Morph automatically adjusts its brightness and light temperature throughout the day based on your precise location, helping to reduce eye strain. 

Pros: Wide range of movement, automatically adjusts warmth and brightness based on your location, turns on/off automatically when you leave or enter the room, can be controlled via Dyson Link app 

Cons: Very expensive, physical controls are tricky to use, app needs your location for full functionality

After working at a desk all day, it's common to experience symptoms of eye strain, which can include sore or tired eyes and headache. Benjamin Bert, MD, an ophthalmologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, explained that adjusting lighting temperature throughout the day can help minimize eye strain.

Few lamps with auto-adjusting dimmers came up in my research, but the Dyson Lightcycle Morph met our criteria for testing. This Energy Star-certified smart desk lamp automatically adjusts its warmth and brightness throughout the day based on your exact location. 

During testing, I was impressed  that the lamp optimized its settings to suit my environment, and I never experienced any eye strain. Its near-constant micro-adjustments happen every 60 seconds. However,  you have to give the Dyson Link app permission to access your location for the lamp to do this.

The Dyson Lightcycle Morph has the sleek modern design you'd expect from the brand, though I was surprised at its 7.7 pound weight. The vertical stem of the lamp offers a 360-degree range of motion, and you can also twist the upper half of its horizontal arm to point the light sideways or upward for ambient lighting. When the arm is placed back over the lamp's base, it lights up the stem, creating a gentle ambient light that reduces blue light. 

You're able to adjust both the lamp's warmth and brightness from the top of its arm, but frankly, these controls are a bit finicky to use. I found it significantly easier to adjust the lamp via the Dyson Link app, which also allows you to save custom brightness and warmth settings for specific situations and even your age. The Lightcycle Morph also automatically turns itself off and on when you leave and enter the room.

The best desk lamp with charging abilities

LumiCharge II on a desktop with a Macbook pro laptop and white-potted house plant next to it, best desk lamp with phone charger
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The Lumicharge II boasts both a universal phone dock and wireless charging pad. 

Pros: Wireless charging, three physical chargers, built-in digital display, easy-to-use controls, a wide range of motion

Cons: Somewhat cheap-looking, night-light is too bright, clock is confusing to program 

A few lamps that we tested — including the ones from TaoTronics, Pablo, and Lumicharge — come with the ability to charge smartphones. Of the three, the Lumicharge II stood out. It has various charging methods, including a wireless Qi-enabled pad, universal phone dock, and USB port. 

The Lumicharge doesn't require any setup, and it has an adjustable arm with an impressive range of motion. The stem offers 145-degree rotation, and the arm itself can be tilted 120 degrees up or 90 degrees side to side. The lamp contains LED bulbs covered by a plastic diffuser that help reduce the harshness of the light. During testing, I adjusted  the lamp to my preferred brightness levels with no issues, and it never caused any eye strain or other discomfort.

To charge your phone, this lamp has a "charging dial" in the base that you can rotate and access three common charger styles: lightning, micro-USB, and USB-C charger. You can also place your smartphone on the wireless charging pad, though it only worked when I removed my phone case first. 

The Lumicharge II has a few other interesting features, including a digital display on the arm that shows the time, date, and temperature. While the idea has potential, I found the display to be frustrating to program and old-fashioned  in appearance. The blocky, retro numbers seemed out of place. The lamp also has a motion-activated night-light, but it was far too bright and would dazzle my eyes when it turned on in the dark.

Finally, while functional in every way, the Lumicharge has a cheap, plasticky appearance, despite costing $100.

The best desk lamp for small spaces

TaoTronics Desk Lamp on a desktop with an open book on the desk, best small desk lamp
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The TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp has wireless phone charging and a night-light feature, making it suited to dorm rooms or other small spaces.

Pros: Easy-to-use controls, lightweight, wireless charging, night-light feature 

Cons: Short, limited range of motion, stiff hinges

Despite its low price, the TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp proved quite effective. It didn't require any setup beyond plugging it in and is easy to move around. The lamp is one of the smallest options we tested, and its compact form and night-light feature make it a good fit for dorm rooms. 

You can select the brightness level via a touch-activated bar on the base of the lamp. There are five color settings controlled by the "M" button. There's even a wireless charging ring that can juice up Apple and Samsung phones, but it only worked when I removed the case from my iPhone X.

The TaoTronics Desk Lamp's stem rotates 180 degrees at the base, and the arm tilts up or down 180 degrees on its hinge — not bad, but also not the best we tested. However, the hinges were fairly stiff, and I had to hold down the lamp's base to keep it from moving as I adjusted the arm.

The lamp wasn't tall enough to use with my desktop computer, which is around 20 inches tall. Occasionally, it caused eye strain, as I had to tilt the arm upward, and the LED lights were very bright when they shined directly into my eyes. The lamp worked much better when I was using a laptop, as the arm could stay angled downward — another reason we think it's better suited for smaller desk setups. 

In terms of other features, the TaoTronics Desk Lamp includes a USB port for charging electronics. It also has a 60-minute automatic shut-off timer, and the lamp remembers your settings, defaulting to them the next time you turn it on.

Testing methodology

The underside of a lamp showing the two stick-like, parallel light bulbs.
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I've been a product reviewer for four years now, so I used my experience testing household products, including lamps, to develop a comprehensive testing methodology. I also consulted various experts, including Benjamin Bert, MD, an ophthalmologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center; Blake McGowan, director of ergonomics research at VelocityEHS; and Matthew Thorpe, a senior sales engineer at Fagerhult Lighting in London. 

With their advice in mind, I came up with several essential features to evaluate, and from there, I was able to determine which desk lamps to test. While hundreds of desk lamps are for sale, the lamps selected meet the criteria outlined below.

When testing these desk lamps, I considered several key factors, including their range of motion, brightness levels, and ease of control. I used each one in my home office for at least two full consecutive workdays, taking the following into account:

  • Ease of setup: After receiving each lamp, I unboxed and assembled it, noting whether the process was confusing or challenging in any way.
  • Size and form: The lamps I tested include many different shapes and sizes, and after a few days of use, I noted whether the form of the lamp was helpful for tasks like taking notes, working on a computer, and reading documents. 
  • Eye strain: At the end of each workday, I noted whether I had experienced any eye strain from using the lamp and if I had to adjust the lamp in any way to avoid it. According to Mayo Clinic, eye strain can manifest as eye soreness, headaches, light sensitivity, and more.
  • Brightness: Preferences may differ depending on whether you want a lamp that's brighter or softer, so I made sure to note the lumens/lux emitted by each for comparison, when available. Unfortunately, this measurement wasn't listed for every product, so I also tested the highest and lowest settings and evaluated whether the light was adequate for detail-oriented tasks, ambient lighting, and more.
  • Movement: Our experts recommended looking for lamps that offer a range of movement so you can adjust the positioning of the light for different tasks. For each lamp, I assessed how far the stem and head could be adjusted and in what directions and how easy it was to make these adjustments.
  • Features: Most of the lamps we tested included a few extra features, including automatic timers, wireless charging of electronics, or night light. I tested all these features to assess their usability, noting whether the functionality was useful or merely a gimmick.

What else we tested

Desk with 7 lamps standing on it best desk lamp, best desk lamps in 2022
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We tested a few other desk lamps while writing this guide. Here's what else we tested that didn't ultimately make our top picks.

What we recommend

Pablo Pixo Plus: The Pablo Pixo Plus has a stunning modern design, and it's easily the most aesthetically appealing desk lamp we tested, with its sleek form and wide range of color options. However, it left something to be desired in terms of functionality. The stem has a 180-degree range of motion, but it only moves side to side — similar to a windshield wiper. The head can also rotate 360 degrees, but I found it  hard to get the lamp into a comfortable position without placing it sideways on the desk. Additionally, while the 325-lumen light is dimmable, the control mechanism is frustrating to use. It involves holding your finger over a small sensor on the head of the lamp, and it never stopped at the brightness I wanted. Still, if a sleek design and wireless charging are priorities for you, this lamp is an attractive choice.

What we don't recommend

Luxe Lamp Cordless Desk Lamp: While the Luxe Lamp Cordless Desk Lamp is useful for certain tasks, it's much too small to cut it as a desk lamp. Its flexible arm offers 180-degree movement, but it's only 15 inches long so when you bend it over to focus the light, it ends up being less than a foot away from the desk. The lightweight, cordless design is nice if you don't have an outlet nearby, and the lamp can run for three or more hours per charge thanks to its 28 energy-efficient LED bulbs. However, the overall design is better suited for small tasks that require you to be close to the work surface, like sketching.

What to look for in a desk lamp

Phone resting on the base of lamp showing the words "synchronized" on the phone screen.
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Buying a desk lamp might not seem like a complicated task, but there are a number of features you'll want to look for when selecting the best ones for your needs. Here are the most important factors to consider, as recommended by our experts as well as my own research and experience. 

Range of motion: All of the experts consulted for this guide agreed that it's important for lamps to be adjustable, and the larger the range of movement, the better. McGowan explains lamps should have "the ability to be positioned to exclude glare on the work surface, keyboard, input display, computer display, or other equipment." A wide range of motion also allows you to move a lamp's light source closer to paper or other objects when needed. 

Brightness and color temperature: Extended computer use can cause eye strain, but proper lighting can help minimize the effects. "A lot of eye strain is created by our habits," says Bert. "When we work or read on a computer, we blink less. As the day progresses, our eyes get drier and drier, which is equivalent to  having multiple small staring contests with our computer screen throughout the day. Having the appropriate color spectrum has been shown to benefit our sleep/wake cycle, contributing to fatigue and eye strain."

It's beneficial to look for a light that has brightness settings and also offers different light temperatures, allowing you to adjust the color spectrum throughout the day: "In the middle of the day, you may want to use a full spectrum LED light that would simulate the color spectrum of the sun," says Bert. "However, in the evening, you would want to use a warmer spectrum light that has less of the high energy blue wavelengths."

Energy efficiency: If you're going to be using a lamp all day, an energy-efficient model can help save you money. Luckily, most of today's desk lamps use LED bulbs, which consume less energy and last significantly longer than incandescent bulbs. You may also want to look for a light that is Energy Star-certified, which must use 90% less energy than traditional models using incandescent light bulbs. 

However, LEDs can be harsh on your eyes when not diffused: "Good quality LEDs are great for energy efficiency and longevity compared to traditional bulbs or fluorescents, but do consider visual comfort," says Thorpe. "Bare LEDs are an extremely bright point source — lots of light from a very small space — so look for a well-made fitting that will control the light with a diffuser."

Additional features: Many desk lamps offer additional features, including phone-charging capabilities. If you're looking for a model that can charge your phone, make sure it's compatible with your particular phone model — some only work with the latest iPhones and Androids.

How should you position a desk lamp?

Desk top featuring a Mac desktop computer, a coffee mug, and the desk lamp.
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The way you position a lamp on your desk can affect whether you experience eye strain, and our experts recommend finding a spot that ensures the lamp won't reflect off your computer screen. "If you're using a desk lamp in conjunction with a backlit screen (tablet, laptop, or desktop computer), it's best to have the illumination provided by the desk lamp be similar to the brightness of the backlit screen and be predominantly directed behind the screen," says Bert.

"You don't want to have the desk lamp reflecting off of a glass screen," he says. "The reflection can cause additional glare that can increase eye strain. For that reason, it is sometimes best to have the light behind your computer, but easily movable if you want to have it in front of printed documents."

Our experts recommend placing your desk in a location that has good natural light, which is easy on the eyes and will help supplement the illumination provided by your lamp throughout the day.

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Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at

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