The 10 Best Flexible Desk Lamps
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in February of 2016. A comfortable level of lighting can make any task a lot easier simply by reducing the strain on your eyes, so equip your home or office workspace with one of these flexible desk lamps. They employ either a gooseneck or hinged design that enables you to position the light anywhere you need it, and most are equipped with energy-efficient LED bulbs that will last for years. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
June 18, 2020:
Whether you want to read, write, use a computer, or work on a craft project at your desk, a flexible lamp will help. We've looked for a range of styles offering excellent flexibility, but we ultimately removed the Lelife 5W, as it tends to droop. As for gooseneck choices, the Trond Halo C 11W and the Ominilight Eye-Care remain top models. Of the two, the latter is arguably more attractive, with a sleek body that doesn't look as utilitarian as many. The Kedsum 115A is a useful choice, as well, although its strong clamp is something of a double-edged sword — it can be hard to position but does stay put once you get it into place. If you're looking more for portability, the UnicornTech TL-03 might be the way to go, as it is battery-operated and lightweight. Its battery doesn't quite live up to claims about its long run-time per charge, though. You might rely on it as an occasional reading light.
As for models that give you flexibility but without the gooseneck styling, there's the Taotronics DL13 and the admittedly pricey Phive LK-1. These rotate and tilt to give you just the illumination you need, and they look good doing it, to boot. The Taotronics model is a smartphone charging lamp, too, and comes in several colors, including a wood grain option.
The Most Portable by Sharper Image If you're having trouble completing tasks at your desk, and brighter light just isn't helping, try The Most Portable by Sharper Image. Look through the ring to magnify your book, craft project, or crossword puzzle, and rely on the LED for high-contrast visibility. sharperimage.com
BenQ WiT e-Reading With its almost whimsical style, the BenQ WiT e-Reading is sure to turn heads, but it offers far more than just an eye-catching design. Boasting smart technology, it adjusts its brightness automatically to complement the ambient lighting in the room, and you can choose warm or cool tones as your needs dictate. benq.com
Ralph Lauren Benton The Ralph Lauren Benton costs a pretty penny, but its handsome design that features a leather shade will be worth it for those kitting out an elegant study. You can choose between a natural brass and polished nickel finish, and even select European wiring if needed. ralphlaurenhome.com
Blinded By The Light?
Once you've decided on a flexible lamp, you'll need to position it well to get the best use from it.
When you have a deadline and projects to finish, whether for a boss or a professor, little is more frustrating than trying to get down to business in a disagreeable workspace. You probably know that you need a comfortable, ergonomic desk chair as well as plenty of office supplies, but there's one item that many people overlook: high-quality desk lighting. A workhorse that'll keep you reading long into the night, a flexible desk lamp is an excellent choice that'll prevent squinting and save you from poor overhead lighting.
When choosing a flexible lamp for your desk, you have a couple of points to consider beyond how well it matches the room's décor. For example, how bright should the light be? And do you want different brightness settings? Most good desk lamps these days offer various brightnesses, but not all do, and some have more settings than others. Also important to note is how the light is powered. Many plug into the wall, but there are also quite a few that run on batteries. If you opt for one of these, will you remember to keep it charged? Finally, what about the size of the illuminated area? Is one bright spot okay, or is a more generous spread necessary?
Once you've decided on a flexible lamp, you'll need to position it well to get the best use from it. To begin with, place the lamp on the opposite side from your dominant hand, which will help keep annoying shadows at bay while you're writing. Then, to get rid of glare, make sure that the light is not tilted to point directly at your computer screen. You should avoid putting the lamp behind you, such as on a bookshelf, as this can also cause glare. Finally, if you notice that your eyes are becoming tired quickly, grab a mirror and place it on your book to see if the light bounces into your peepers. If it does, you'll probably want to reposition the lamp.
Reading In The Dark
Regardless of your age, you probably grew up with your parents telling you not to read in dim light or you'd ruin your vision. If you're younger, they probably also told you (or perhaps you tell your own kids) not to look at a lit screen in the dark for too long. Even though it's easy to avoid working in dim lighting with a good flexible desk lamp, you might be wondering how much truth is found in these prohibitions. Luckily, we've got the answer, and it rests in the difference between eye strain and actual eye injury.
Luckily, we've got the answer, and it rests in the difference between eye strain and actual eye injury.
Eye strain, although it may sound alarming, simply refers to tiredness and fatiguing of the eyes. You experience this when reading in the dark (whether a book or lit screen) for two reasons. First, your eyes, just like any other part of the body, move thanks to muscles. These extraocular muscles are extremely precise and must make many quick movements to keep your eyes focused as you read. In dimmer conditions, these muscles work harder, which causes them to tire quickly. Compounding this fatigue is the fact that when reading, people tend to blink less, which dries out the eyes, again leading to greater tiredness. So, reading in dim lighting can produce eye strain, that is, tired muscles and dry eyes.
An eye injury is entirely different, because it occurs when some force harms the eye, often requiring medical intervention to put the eye to rights. And it's here that the difference between eye injury and strain can be seen: eye strain goes away on its own once you've rested your eyes; it doesn't require medical care. There are no natural reasons for it to be permanent, in other words, which means reading in the dark makes your eyes tired and dry, but doesn't cause trauma.
Of course, this doesn't mean you should continue to fatigue your eyes by reading without a good desk lamp, because there's no reason to make yourself tired and uncomfortable unnecessarily. Besides using a lamp, you can lessen eye strain by taking a short break every hour to look up and focus on something at a distance. You can also try to blink more often (though we know this can be a challenge to remember).
A Brief History Of The Flexible Desk Lamp
Today, flexible desk lamp designs are a dime a dozen, but we perhaps wouldn't have these variations if it wasn't for one man's bright idea, which started not with lightbulbs, but with springs. This was 1932, and automotive engineer George Carwardine had just patented a new type of spring, one that would hold its position after being moved. He soon saw that his invention could have a non-automotive use, placing it instead in a flexible lamp based upon the design of the human arm. Thus the Anglepoise lamp was born.
This was 1932, and automotive engineer George Carwardine had just patented a new type of spring, one that would hold its position after being moved.
Although there were other task lamps available, like the perennially beloved Emeralite, none offered the excellent flexibility of the Anglepoise. It was viewed as strictly industrial at first, but by 1935 the Anglepoise 1227, a domestic lighting solution featuring three springs, had hit the market. With its popularity, it wasn't too long before other designers were creating their own versions of this articulated task lamp; perhaps the most famous of these is from Luxo, a version of which became the inspiration for the 1986 Pixar short film Luxo Jr.
Anglepoise-style lamps remain desirable even today, and their reach into popular culture did not stop with Pixar. You can see these lamps dancing in the video for Peter Gabriel's 1982 hit "Shock the Monkey" and find them referenced in Midnight's Children by cultural heavyweight Salman Rushdie. You can also still purchase an Anglepoise, although with so many amazing flexible desk lamps available, they are no longer necessarily the standard. Thanks to advances in materials and bulbs, there is a task lamp to suit just about everyone, and only time can tell which designs will become as iconic as the Anglepoise or Luxo.