Quicklist: Desk Lamps
- Swing Arm
- Battery Powered or Alternative Power Source
- Outlet/Charger Included
- Organizer Desk Lamp
- Magnifying Desk Lamp
- Clip-On Desk Lamp
- Traditional Lamp
- Mid-Century Modern
- Banker’s Lamp
Desk Lamp Buying Guide
The ideal desk lamp helps you see the tasks and projects you’re working on without eyestrain or glare. Ideally, the light also works with your overall décor and style.
Since there are a lot of options out there for desk lamps, it can be difficult to know where to start or what features to look for. Our buying guide takes some of the hassles and stresses out of finding the perfect desk lamp for your home office.
Types of Desk Lamp
You can divide desk lamps into two broad categories: those that adjust and those that don’t. After that, your options for a desk lamp include those that plug into an outlet or those that are battery-powered, or use a different source of power.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common type of desk lamps out there.
1. Swing Arm
A desk lamp with a swing arm lets you direct the light at whatever project you are working on at the moment. If you need to bring the light closer to a complex project, you can just swing the arm down.
The swing arm style is ideal if you work on a lot of drawing or drafting projects since it lets you move the arm and the light across the width of your desk with ease.
Technically speaking, a swing arm desk lamp is a type of adjustable desk lamp. But desk lamps can adjust in other ways as well. Some might feature telescoping poles so that you can alter their height up or down.
Others might have adjustable lamps so that you can tilt the light up or down depending on your illumination needs.
3. Battery Powered or Alternative Power Source
Not all desk lamps need to plug into an electrical outlet to operate. Some use battery power or another source of power. For example, there are a few desk lamp models that plug into a USB on your laptop and run off of the computer as a source of power.
4. Outlet/Charger Included
Welcome to the modern age, when the average person has numerous devices that all need charging. The good news is that you don’t have to position your desk near multiple outlets.
All you need is a desk lamp with built-in outlets or with a built-in charging feature. For example, IKEA produces some lamps that offer wireless charging. You don’t need a charger plug or any outlets to juice up your phone. The bad news is that, now, wireless charging only works with certain phone models.
5. Organizer Desk Lamp
If your desk regularly gets messy or cluttered, an organizer desk lamp can help kill two birds with one stone. It not only illuminates your working area it also contains openings and storage for pens, notepads, and all the little things that tend to pile up on people’s desks.
6. Magnifying Desk Lamp
You’ve probably seen magnifying, light-up mirrors designed to help you apply eye makeup or pluck your eyebrows without straining your eyes. It only makes sense that a similar concept exists for desk lamps.
After all, a lot of tasks involve tiny detail work, which can be difficult to see even if you have excellent vision. A magnifying desk lamp features a magnifying glass surrounded by a ring of light.
Whether you’re working on an intricate drawing, assembling tiny computer chips or doing delicate stitch work, it helps illuminate and enlarge your projects.
7. Clip-On Desk Lamp
You might not always need a lamp at your desk. Or, your desk might be small enough that there’s not really room on its surface for a full light.
A clip-on desk lamp can be the right option for you in that case. The lamp attaches to the edge of the desk with either a clamp or clip. You can take it down and stash it away when you don’t need a source of light or if you need to spread out materials all over the surface of the desk.
Desk Lamp Styles
Once you know what type of desk lamp you want, you can start thinking about the style of lamp that will work best with your room or desk.
Think of the overall style in your home office when choosing a desk lamp style. Also, keep in mind that styles and tastes change. You might be better off picking a classic looking desk lamp that will look fantastic for years to come instead of choosing a super trendy, of-the-moment style.
1. Traditional Lamp
A traditional desk lamp has a timeless look. It looks equally at home on a desk in a scene from “Mad Men,” as it does on a desk in a 21st-century office. When you think of traditional desk lamp styles, you might picture the lamp that’s used in the Pixar logo or the iconic green banker’s lamp.
2. Mid-Century Modern
If you can’t get enough of mid-century modern style, well, you’re not alone. The style’s focus on minimalism, natural materials, and flow appeals to a significant number of people, meaning that desk lamps and other decor touches will be available in style for a long time to come.
Real-deal Tiffany lamps can be worth a small fortune. They are also incredibly rare, reports CNBC. What’s a lot more common are “Tiffany- style” lamps which feature a similar stained glass style but aren’t made by the company and are usually made from less expensive materials.
That said, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy a Tiffany-style desk lamp if you like the way it looks. The lamps are popular for a reason. Many people enjoy the look of the colorful, patterned stained glass.
It’s also worth noting that, while they are nowhere near as pricey as the originals, Tiffany-style lamps aren’t exactly cheap, either. You can expect to pay more than $100 for many models.
Source: Crate and Barrel
What are the hallmarks of contemporary style? Neutral colors, clean lines, geometric shapes. A contemporary desk lamp might sound like it will be dull looking, yet, these lamps tend to make a bold statement.
The key style feature you’ll find on a gooseneck desk lamp is the flexible metal coil that connects the light source to the base of the lamp. It’s this feature that gives the lamp its distinctive look, and that makes it an ideal option if you need to adjust the light source frequently while working.
Source: Crate and Barrel
Another décor trend that’s been having a heyday is the industrial style, sometimes called the warm industrial style. It makes use of heavier materials, such as cast iron, exposed lightbulbs, and concrete and somehow makes them into a warm and inviting space.
If you love the look of salvage shops or can’t get enough of cast iron, an industrial style desk lamp might be the style for you.
Rustic-style homes or country-style homes tend to feature muted colors and features similar to what you’d find in a country cottage or log cabin. It is possible to go for a rustic look and still stay modern and up-to-the-minute doing it.
Combining a wooden desk lamp with the modern conveniences of life is one way to pull off the look.
8. Banker’s Lamp
Source: Home Depot
There might not be a style of desk lamp that is more iconic than the classic banker’s lamp. Although a green lampshade is a classic, these days you can find banker’s lamps with shades in a rainbow of colors, as well as with stained glass or patterned shades.
The original name for banker’s lamps was Emeralites, a neologism that combined the words “Emerald” and “light.” The style was patented at the start of the 20th century and produced for decades by a single factory in Moravia.
Like Tiffany lamps, original banker’s lamps or Emeralites are valuable collector’s items. But you can find cheaper versions made of less expensive materials at several online stores.
Desk Lamp Light Bulb Options
Picking out a desk lamp is only half of the journey. You also want to choose the right type of bulb for your new lamp. Nowadays, there are almost as many light bulb options as there are lamps. Here’s a quick rundown of the bulbs you might come across, as well as some information about bulb sizing.
Light Bulb Styles
Source: Public Domain Pictures
There are six basic styles of light bulb that fit desk lamps. Some bulb styles are interchangeable and will work in a variety of different types of lamp. Other lamps will only fit a particular kind of bulb. Here are your main light bulb options:
Incandescent light bulbs are your garden variety bulbs. You can find them virtually anywhere light bulbs are sold and they usually are very affordable.
Although incandescent bulbs are common and cheap, they have two things working against them: One is their short lifespan. The other is their energy use. Recent changes in the law have required that today’s incandescent bulbs be more energy efficient than models created in the past. But even newer models of these bulbs use more energy than LEDs or CFLs.
2. Compact Fluorescent (CFL)
Desk lamps that work with standard incandescent bulbs will also work with CFLs. You can think of CFLs as the more energy efficient cousin of incandescents. They use about 70 percent less energy than incandescents, according to Energy Star. They also last a lot longer than incandescents.
CFLs can be a bit fussy, though, and some people really dislike them. You shouldn’t use them in closed off lamps, as too much heat shrinks their lifespan.
The big drawback of the CFLs for many people is the quality of the light they produce. Although you can find “warm” CFL bulbs, for a lot of individuals, the light made by standard CFLs is just too harsh and cool.
Like CFLs, you can use most modern LED bulbs in any lamp where you’d usually use an incandescent bulb. There are also desk lamps that feature built-in LED lights.
You can think of modern LED bulbs as offering the best of all possible words. They are incredibly energy-efficient and have very long lifespans. Depending on how frequently you use them, some bulbs will last for up to 20 years.
In the past, LED bulbs were insanely expensive, a fact that people justified by pointing out their long lives. While the bulbs are still pricier than their incandescent cousins, you can find models for around $5 these days. IKEA has some models for around $2 each.
Shopping for a LED bulb is a bit of a different experience from shopping for an incandescent. Instead of looking at the number of watts a bulb produces, you want to look at the number of lumens the bulb produces, which will give you an idea of its brightness. The more lumens, the brighter the bulb.
Like CFLs, you want to be careful about placing a LED bulb in an enclosed desk lamp fixture. When the lamp is sealed off, the heat from the bulb has nowhere to go and ends up shortening the life of the bulb.
Halogen light bulbs are a type of incandescent bulb. The bulbs feature the addition of halogen gas, which makes them more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs and also increases their lifespan.
Some desk lamps that need halogen bulbs require a special size or shape of the bulb. That means you can’t just swap a standard incandescent for a halogen bulb in all cases.
While halogen bulbs are incandescents that are filled with halogen gas, xenon bulbs are incandescents filled with xenon gas. They also have a considerably longer life than your standard incandescents and a longer life than most halogen bulbs.
Xenon bulbs don’t heat up very much and can be safely handled even after being left on for some time. The big drawback of them is that they usually have special sockets or fittings, meaning you often can’t simply trade a standard bulb for a Xenon one.
While plenty of desk lamps will work with CFLs, some need a specially shaped fluorescent, such as a small fluorescent tube. Depending on the style of the lamp, the fluorescent tube might have a screw-on base or two prongs that pop into place.
No matter what, if your desk lamp needs a fluorescent light, you won’t be able to swap in another type of light bulb.
7. Bulb Sizes
Not only are there different types of a bulb to pay attention to, but there is also a full range of sizes to look out for. Usually, your desk lamp will specify what size bulb it needs and might even include a bulb if it calls for a very specialized shape and style.
When it comes to screw-in light bulb bases, there are three sizes you need to know about. E26 is the standard size, used for most lamps. E12, or candelabra, is used by smaller lamps. If your desk lamp calls for a candelabra light bulb, it will most likely need an E12 base.
Some lamps need a bulb with an E17, or intermediate, base. It’s slightly smaller than E26 and is rare.
If your bulb burns out and you aren’t sure which style or size you need, your best bet is to take the bulb with you to the store when buying a new one. Compare the old bulb to the new to make sure you’re picking out the right option.
Desk Lamp Base Material
The variety of materials used to make desk lamps is a bit more limited than the variety of materials used to make other types of lighting. Despite that, you still have some options when it comes to the material a lamp is made of.
The type of material you pick will influence the overall look of the lamp. In some cases, the material has a direct connection to the quality of the lamp.
Metal desk lamps look sleek and stylish. They also tend to give off a utilitarian vibe. Depending on the style of lamp, the metal might be a brushed steel or chrome or a sophisticated bronze.
Some lamps are made of what looks to be metal but are actually a coated plastic. Additionally, some desk lamps have metal parts mixed in with plastic or other less expensive materials.
Source: Home Depot
Plastic desk lamps have their pros and cons. They tend to be lower priced than other materials, but they also tend to look cheap. Because plastic is available in many colors, you might be able to find a lamp that goes with your color scheme if you pick a plastic one.
That said, not all types of plastic desk lamp are particularly inexpensive. The Z-Bar LED Lamp contains a mix of plastic and metal and retails for between $200 and $300.
You don’t often see wooden desk lamps, but they do exist. Usually, wooden lamps fit into a rustic style or are a sleek, contemporary style, like the one pictured above.
Ceramic is another material you don’t often see used in desk lamps, but there are a few out there. Often, the ceramic is used as an accent feature or is combined with another type of material.
The old-school banker’s lamps are an excellent example of desk lamps that use glass as the main material, even if their base is made of metal. You can also find Tiffany-style desk lamps that make good use of glass in their design.
More Details about Desk Lamps
Appearance, bulb type, and materials aren’t the only things to consider when buying a desk lamp. Here are a few more things you’ll want to think about.
No matter what your budget, you can find a desk lamp to fit it. Stores such as Target, Walmart, and IKEA all have a selection of lamps for under $10.
If you have more to spend or what a lamp made out of durable, higher quality materials, you can easily find lamps for under $100 but more than $20 or $30. Some lamp models do get pricey, based on their design or marketing. A branded, designer lamp can easily run into the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
If you want a high-quality lamp but don’t have a big budget, it can help to go the vintage route. Vintage or thrift stores often have older lamps available for less than you’d pay for a new one.
The size of your desk lamp should work with the overall size of your desk. Lamps come in a range of sizes, from mini to oversized.
Keep the proportions of your desk in mind when shopping for a lamp. If you have a smaller desk, you’ll want a smaller lamp. Otherwise, the lamp will take over the entire area and won’t leave you with much room to do your actual work.
It can be helpful to try out the lamp before you commit to it. Put it on your desk and turn it on. The light should illuminate the working area fully. If not, you’ll need a larger lamp or might need to adjust the angle of the light source.
3. Choosing the Right Light
The odds are that you’ll be using your desk lamp along with a computer. Staring at a computer screen for some time, then switching your gaze over to the surface of your desk or another area can cause eyestrain if the area isn’t illuminated properly.
That said, it’s important to choose a desk lamp that provides at least three times as much light as the computer screen. Light output is measured in foot candles (FC) and the average computer monitor produces between 20 and 25 FC.
To keep your pupils from dilating and to reduce the risk for headaches when switching back and forth from looking at a screen and a desk, your desk lamp should have at least 60 to 75 FC.
Glare can also be an issue when it comes to the lighting produced by a desk lamp. You don’t want a lamp that will point directly at your monitor screen. Nor do you necessarily want a lamp with a fixed position. Being able to adjust the angle or direction of the light source is a must. You’ll be better able to see what you’re working on and will avoid straining your eyes.
Choosing a desk lamp with a dimmer switch and a type of bulb that you can dim also gives you greater control over the brightness produced by the light. Just remember to look for bulbs that work with dimmers if you are going to pick a dimmable desk lamp. Some CFLS and LEDs aren’t dimmable.
Best Desk Lamps For Various Purposes
Best Desk Lamps for Eye Health
Working in low-light conditions can be bad for your eyesight. Bright fluorescent lights can also cause damage. For eye health, lamps that emit warm or full-spectrum light are likely to be your best choice.
The Verilux SmartLight desk lamp has adjustable brightness settings, reducing eye strain. It’s able to mimic natural daylight and even uses Optix lens to cut back glare. You can also customize the light settings and find options that suit your needs.
Another great option is the VariLum Circadian desk lamp. It emits warm, UV-free light, providing brightness without damaging the eyes. As an added bonus, this lamp can be used for bright light therapy.
Best Desk Lamps for Artists and Designers
Art projects and drawings may need more lighting than the average desk lamp offers. That’s why it’s helpful to look for a lamp that offers wide light coverage, like the BenQ e-Reading Desk lamp. This is a flexible, efficient lamp that’s a favorite of many professionals.
Not only does this lamp give wide light coverage, but it also has a built-in sensor. It’s able to detect the light levels around you. This helps provide intelligent lighting that’s perfect for a variety of projects.
“The most helpful part of the BenQ LED desk lamp for me is that you can change from warm to cool hues,” says artist Kimberly Crick. “This is incredibly useful for seeing the correct hue in your artwork.”
Another excellent lamp for artists is the Neatfi XL task lamp. The lamp is 23 inches wide, which lets it provide even light across large areas. You can even mount the lamp to a desk to save space.
Best Desk Lamps for Computer Screens
LED desk lamps are great for computer work because they give you glare-free lighting. The Mi LED desk lamp is a smart lamp with four different light settings. You can adjust the lamp’s color temperature to better suit your needs.
Another benefit of this lamp is its smart features. The lamp works with Google Assistant and Alexa. With this lamp, you can change your lighting without stopping what you’re working on.
If you’re not looking for a smart lamp, the Ultem LED desk lamp is a great choice as well. It has 25 light modes and will reduce glare. There’s also a silicone pad at the bottom of the lamp that will prevent damage to your desk.
Best Desk Lamps for Phone Charging
Having a lamp with a built-in charger can be helpful, especially if you have limited outlets. The JS Nova desk lamp has a built-in USB charger that you can use to charge phones and other devices. It also has a wireless charging pad, allowing you to charge multiple devices at once!
The Colby Desk Lamp is a solid option as well. This is a sturdy nickel lamp with a USB port and an outlet. Best of all, it will keep charging devices even when you turn the lamp off.
Best Desk Lamps for Energy Efficiency
Investing in an energy-efficient desk lamp can save you money if you use your lamp regularly. The Humanscale Nova lamp has a built-in LED light that won’t drain your power. It even shuts off automatically when no one is around.
The Greenlite wellness lamp is also an energy-efficient option. It’s a low-wattage desk lamp that’s Energy-Star certified. Best of all, the lamp doesn’t use bulbs. It’s a reliable source of lighting that won’t drive up your energy costs.
Best Desk Lamps for Small Spaces
Having a tiny desk doesn’t mean you have to give up on a lamp. There are all kinds of lamps to choose from, including lamps that take up little-to-no space. As long as you know what to look for, you should be able to find options that meet all your needs.
“For small desks, choose lamps with small bases,” says interior designer Lori Dennis. “This preserves precious desktop space.”
Anglepoise is famous for its high-quality lamps. The Anglepoise 90 Mini Mini LED lamp is perfect for cramped spaces. Not only is the lamp very adjustable, but the base takes up just five inches of space.
Another option is the Globe Electric Clamp-On desk light. This multi-joint lamp doesn’t have a base at all! Instead, you can mount the lamp to your desk. You’ll get lots of light without giving up an inch of desk space.
Top Brands of Desk Lamps
Source: Regina Andrew
This home decor brand takes its inspiration from the city of Detroit. The husband-and-wife team behind Regina Andrew combines materials like alabaster and brass. Every piece feels like a one-of-a-kind creation.
“In this area, there’s a lot of architectural salvage from the buildings that have been torn down,” says Regina Andrew co-founder Carla Zajac. “We’re always out picking and scavenging and bringing things home and then turning them into something.”
The brand’s beautiful table lamps feel modern and timeless at the same time. From task lamps to sleek table lamps, they offer lighting for any desk.
Located in New York, this brand offers home décor with fun designs. Many of the products they offer are hand-painted. The brand uses ceramics to make a variety of products, including lamps.
The desk lamps they make are practical, but they also have a sense of whimsy. Some lamps even look like they belong in a fairy tale. These designs aren’t for everyone, but make a great alternative to the standard task lamp.
Gantri is a home décor brand that helps creators bring their visions to life. They offer premium lighting with modern designs. Every lamp uses cutting-edge technology to provide customizable lighting solutions.
The lamps you’ll find at Gantri feel completely unique. Not only does the brand focus on quality, but the lamps they make are very affordable.
In the 1930s, a British designer named George Carwardine created a new kind of spring. This led to the creation of the first Anglepoise lamp. The lamp’s flexible design made it a perfect task lamp.
Today, the Anglepoise brand is still family-owned and the original lamp design is still available. There are also many new designs to choose from.
This contemporary home décor brand draws inspiration from mid-century modern design. Since Article launched in 2013, the brand has received all kinds of praise. They’re well-known for offering affordable products that are still made well.
Article offers a variety of table lamps, from classic task lamps to unusual designs. Many lamps come in several colors. You’ll be free to choose the best lamp for your desk.
McGee & Co
Source: McGee & Co
While this brand start out as a design firm, they went on to make their own home decor products. The founders, Shea and Syd McGee, are both interior designers and have an eye for style.
At McGee & Co, you can find desk lamps made from all sorts of materials. Woven table lamps, ceramic lamps, and basic task lamps are all available. Quality and craftsmanship are always the brand’s focus.
Source: Pablo Designs
Based in San Francisco, this brand offers lamps made to last a lifetime. Every lamp that they make is functional and sturdy, with a simple design. Pablo Designs believes that when it comes to lighting, less can be more.
“Our goal is to produce a product for many people,” says Pablo Pardo, the director and founder of Pablo Designs. “We have customers all over the world, and we have many types of customers.”
One of the brand’s most popular desk lamps is the clamp lamp. It’s an LED lamp made from hardwood. The lamp is very portable, and the simple design works well in many spaces.
This famous Scandinavian company is one of the best places to buy stylish table lamps for less. From ring lamps to basic work lamps, they have a solid selection to choose from.
Many people like Ikea because of its pricing, but they also offer desk lamps with great designs. Some of their lamps even offer handy features, like a built-in charging station. As an added bonus, many lamps are available in several colors.
This brand has its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. With that said, they’re inspired by designers in every part of the world. Some of the designers they work with include Ethan Cook and Ana Kras.
Many of the table lamps that HAY makes are very portable. These products are a great option for people that like to work on the go! While the brand’s designs are practical, they’re also a lot of fun.
Based in Norway, Luxo Lighting has been making lamps since 1934. The brand’s designs are famous worldwide. In fact, the lamp in the Pixar logo is based on a Luxo design.
Today, Luxo offers industrial task lights! The brand makes sturdy and practical lamps that are ideal for desks. They also make lamps used in industrial and medical settings.
Where to Buy Desk Lamps
1. Bed Bath & Beyond
Bed Bath & Beyond is known for offering top-quality items for every room in the home. Whether your theme is vintage or contemporary, you can be sure to find a desk lamp of your liking.
This shop stocks well-known brands, so quality is guaranteed. The website is incredibly easy to use, and you can enjoy free shipping if your order is over $39. You can also shop in-store. And if you are buying the desk lamp as a gift for your loved one, they’ll handle the wrapping for you.
Lowe’s is a household name when it comes to matters of home improvement. Founded in 1921, the retailer serves about 19 million customers each week across the United States and Canada. This retailer started as a small-town hardware but has grown to go head-to-head with other giant corporations.
What stands out about Lowe’s is that its associates have home improvement experience and training. Therefore, if you are unsure what desk lamp would work for you, they can advise you. Currently, the retailer has over 2,000 stores in the United States and Canada and nine store support centers.
IKEA is a home furnishings retailer with over 300 stores across the world, best known for low-priced goods. This Swedish company will come to your rescue if you are looking for a desk lamp without breaking the bank.
Their practical designs come in various styles and colors, so you can add some personality to your working space.
Notably, IKEA has a diverse retail strategy. You can buy from their city-center locations, traditional suburban stores, or their website and enjoy improved home deliveries and services.
Another online retailer you might consider for your desk lamp search is Overstock. The shop has been serving customers since 1999 and is now a billion-dollar enterprise. It has been on the receiving end of prestigious awards, like The Top 100 Retailers award.
The retailer stocks some of the leading brands like Satco, ArtWall and Adesso. Overstock’s website is user-friendly — you can easily find what you are looking for. Besides, you can filter your search by brand or design, making it easy for you to find what you are looking for.
5. Office Depot
Office Depot is among the leading operators of office supplies superstores in the United States. It has over 800 retail stores in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Besides, you can shop via their website. Notably, Office Depot offers free next-business-day shipping on orders above $45.
If you’d like to receive your desk lamp sooner, you can reach out to Office Depot and inquire about same-day delivery.
If you are a registered customer, you can log into your account and track your order by clicking on the order number. If you ordered as a guest, you can track your order by manually keying in the order number and phone number.
Macy’s is a premium retailer in the United States that stocks a wide range of products, from apparel to lighting. The retailer opened its doors in 1858, so it has quite the streak. Shopping on Macy’s website is a breeze, though you can also walk into any of their 605 stores and pick a desk lamp of your liking.
One of the best things about getting your desk lamp from Macy’s is the wide variety of products to choose from. Expect to find all your favorite brands under one roof.
7. Lamp Plus
As the name suggests, Lamp Plus is dedicated to meeting all your desk lamp needs. They stock thousands of designer lamps from top brands like Feiss and Robert Abbey.
You can also shop from their line of custom lighting, such as the Color+Plus, which offers you over 100 colors to choose from. If you need desk lamp ideas, you can head to the room inspiration gallery section of their website.
You can also book an appointment to get free help for your home project from certified lighting design experts.
WayFair has been one of the world’s largest home retailers serving customers since 2002. The retailer has over 17 thousand employees in North America and Europe, so you are assured of excellent customer service.
When it comes to variety, WayFair spoils you for choice. You can find a desk lamp that goes well with the rest of your home from the leading brands. The website is easy to use, and you get free shipping for orders above $35.
Related: Living Room with Table Lamps