Looking for a new desk lamp? We ask the experts for their top tips 

While we’re all for stylish interior choices, what else tips the balance when it comes to picking a new desk lamp?

When it comes to your home office essentials, one thing is clear. Having a light that can make the task at hand easier is essential. But as with most things in life, it’s rare that one size fits all. Careful crafters will likely need a more flexible desk lamp compared to screen surfers, for instance. 

And given that we all need to protect our vision as we get older, it’s vital to ensure any lamp helps reduce the need for extra eye effort. While aesthetics will naturally play a part in your buying choice, getting the work/health balance is also key. Here’s what the experts suggest.

desk in room with plant and floor lamp behindCredit: Shutterstock/Storytime Studio
Getting your desk lighting right is essential for your eye health as well as aesthetics

Start with size

How much space do you have?

“Besides loving the design, the size of your desk lamp is key when choosing a new lamp for your desk,” says managing director of Anglepoise, Adam Wade. “Check the dimensions, in particular the height and the footprint, making sure you still have space for your laptop, materials or books.” 

A tidy workspace generally leads to a more productive day, so over-cluttering is best avoided. Some brands also have smaller versions of classical lamp designs, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice style for size. 

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woman sat at deskCredit: Shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi
Work with the space you have to avoid over-cluttering your desk

“Anglepoise offer a great solution in their iconic style, which is perfect if you want something space saving,” says Ellie Fennell, lighting buyer at John Lewis. 

It can also be connected to a laptop for power if your workspace isn’t close enough to a socket, or you’ve used every socket that’s available. A lightweight lamp can also be helpful and avoid lifting injuries if you need to move it around your home. 

Featured product

ANYDAY Tony Desk Lamp, John Lewis

RRP: £25

ANYDAY Tony Desk Lamp, John Lewis

Featured product

90 Mini Mini LED Desk Lamp, Anglepoise

RRP: £115

90 Mini Mini LED Desk Lamp, Anglepoise

Keen to keep your workspace clean? Here’s some top tips for organising a home office. 

Adjustability is advantageous

Think about where and how you will work

“It’s really helpful to have a light that can move easily so that you can direct the light to where you need it, which can change through the day,” says Wade. His key tips? Think about “the movement, the reach and the adjustability as well as the option to add a clamp or a desk insert”.

Fennell agrees, recommending you look for features such as hinges and an adjustable head so you can direct the light. 

There are also health benefits to using a light that is adjustable and can be moved to suit a variety of tasks, says Radhika Rampat, consultant ophthalmic surgeon and advisor for lighting brand Lumie. 

“From a medical standpoint, it’s essential to evaluate whether a lamp is suitable for extended use, considering both ergonomic considerations for your posture and the quality of the lighting.”

“If the desk lamp meets the following criteria, you will have all the elements in place for a secure and comfortable lighting solution,” says Rampat.

  • It is positioned above to provide illumination from above. 
  • It has an adjustable neck. 
  • It offers adjustable lighting with a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) to mimic natural daylight. 

Buying a desk lamp as you’re redecorating and need some home office ideas? From spare room office ideas to small home office ideas we’ve got oodles of interior design inspiration.

Your choice of bulb is key

Brightness and temperature both bring benefits

“We would recommend 3,000-4,500k for a neutral white light, great for work and offices,” says Fennell – a statement that is backed up by Rampat. 

“Sun-like LEDs featuring high CRI, balanced red and blue components, and a broad-spectrum like natural daylight, can indeed provide increased eye protection and comfort,” she says. 

The health benefits of sunlight are essential to well-beingCredit: Shutterstock/Yomogil
The health benefits of sunlight are essential to well-being

Jo Plant, head of design at lighting brand Pooky adds that it’s important to “pay attention to the lamp’s light quality, opting for models that offer flicker-free illumination and colour-temperature options suitable for your specific needs, whether it’s screen work, reading, or detailed tasks”. 

“Bulbs are as important as the lights themselves for creating the right light colour,” she adds. “Check the temperature of your bulb, this will be shown in kelvins. The higher the kelvin the cooler the light.

“High-kelvin bulbs work well as functional task lighting,” says Plant, “whereas lower-kelvin bulbs produce a warmer glow that can enhance natural light.” 

Her top recommendation when it comes to lights of any kind? Dimmer switches.

“Installing dimmer switches gives you options to control the light levels and we highly recommend them for all your rooms to control the intensity and bring a more balanced glow into a space.” 

Featured product

Lumie Task SAD Light Therapy Desk Lamp

RRP: £249

Lumie Task SAD Light Therapy Desk Lamp
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Don’t dismiss a floor lamp

They can be a good option for screen users

All our experts agree that avoiding glare is the key issue when it comes to choosing a desk lamp that suits screen use. Fennell suggests that although an adjustable desk lamp is a worthwhile ally in the battle, it’s also worth considering a floor lamp with a bulb that allows you to adjust the colour temperature and brightness.

A floor lamp can work for some desksCredit: Shutterstock/Follow the flow
A floor lamp can work for some desks

If you opt for a desk-based lamp, Wade tells us how positioning is key, suggesting you place your light so it is next to or just behind the screen. 

Rampat adds how adjustability is again a key requirement. “Having the flexibility to adjust the lamp’s neck allows you to easily angle the light towards your screen,” she says, “effectively reducing screen backlighting.” 

There’s also an added benefit of adjustable lighting for those who spend their life looking at their face on video calls. “It can serve as an illuminator,” says Rampat, “helping you present your best self.”

As a member of the work-from-home crew, it’s something I definitely need to think about! 

Featured product

Baldwin Floor Lamp, John Lewis

RRP: £100

Baldwin Floor Lamp, John Lewis

Eyes still need extra care, even with the right light

Although choosing the right desk lamp is important, Rampat is keen to stress how there is more to the job. 

“It is still important to practise healthy eye habits,” she says, “such as taking regular breaks, maintaining appropriate lighting levels, and ensuring proper screen ergonomics, to minimise eye strain and promote overall eye health.” 

Perfect positioning

Picked a desk lamp? Here’s where to place it

Picked the best desk lamp, unpacked your new purchase but still not sure where it should go on your desk? Our experts tell us it’s down to the ‘three Ps’ – projection, practicality and posture. 

 Fennell tells us it depends on what you are working on, citing writing or working on a screen as examples. “You either want your desk lamp shining on your paper or notebook or illuminating just beside or just behind the screen.” 

For Wade, it’s also important to get it right based on your practical needs. “Depending on whether you are left or right-handed,” he says, “we’d suggest positioning your desk lamp to the left or right of your focus area.” 

“It means you can easily reach to turn it on and off or move your lamp,” he explains. 

desk lamp and floor lamp next to deskCredit: Shutterstock/Storytime Studio
Pick the best place for your desk lamp with the ‘three P’ approach

Rampat is naturally keen to stress the medical importance of placing the lamp in the right place to avoid potential posture problems. For her, being able to place the lamp so it creates overhead illumination “minimises the risk of forward hunching or straining the neck by maintaining a more ergonomic posture. 

“Placing the lamp in one corner of the desk and adjusting the tilt, according to the desk’s size,” she says, “allows you to evenly illuminate your workspace, optimising your working conditions.” 

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Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her

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Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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