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The Best Light Boxes for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Where to buy SAD lights and reviews of the best sellers.

Residents of northern climates are all too familiar with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). But even in more southern climates with more sunlight in the winter, you can get the winter blues. This is especially true if you work in an office for most of the day that has few or any windows letting in natural light. For most cases, seasonal affective disorder lights are all you need for treatment and they can start working almost immediately. However, the best light boxes for SAD can vary from person to person according to the Mayo Clinic. You may have to try a couple of types before finding the right one for you.        

How to Use Your Light Therapy Box for Depression or SAD

Depending on the intensity of the light you may only need to use your box for about 30 minutes a day, preferably in the morning as you wake or first sit down at your desk in the office. Smaller units shoul

SAD light box
d be about one to two feet away from you to use for a few minutes in the morning. Larger units are best if you want to place it in a corner of the office or house to use throughout the day. The Mayo Clinic reports that the higher the light intensity (lux) the less time you will need to use it each day. The Mayo Clinic states that a light box with 10,000 will require only 30 minutes a day of use, whereas one that produces only 2,500 lux may require about two hours a day of use. Neither is consider better. If you want one that wakes you up, then the higher lux and small unit would be your better choice. But if you want one in your office or for the living areas of your home, you may prefer the lower lux and/or larger unit.
Philips Hf3318/60 Energylight, White
Amazon Price: $299.99 $229.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 21, 2013)

Philips EnergyLight HF3318 Review

This top selling and top rated SAD light box is a large unit, measuring almost 2 feet in height. It’s the best light box if you want the ambient light in your office or home. It emits 10,000 lux making it one of the brightest you can buy. It does have a dimmer and timer and you can adjust the angle. Turn it up for a 30 minute treatment once a day, or down to leave on for a couple of hours in a corner. Philips reports that this light is UV-free, making it a safer choice for your eyes. It is more expensive than other models, but if a large light box with options for adjusting the light and timer are what you are looking for, then this is your best bet. It does come with a 45-day money back guarantee if you are still on the fence about spending over $100 for a mood light.

Pros of the Philips EnergyLight HF3318

  • Adjustable angle
  • Timer can be set up to 2 hours
  • Adjustable light intensity
  • Large enough for a room or office
  • 45-day money back guranatee

Cons of the Philips EnergyLight HF3318

  • Large – this is not a desk top therapy light
  • Cost
Philips Hf3318/60 Energylight, White
Amazon Price: $299.99 $229.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 21, 2013)

Sad Light Alarm Clock

Philips Wake-Up Light HF3470 Review

This is the best seller of the SAD light alarm clocks. You put this on your nightstand and set it like you would an alarm clock. At 30 minutes before your set time it then slowly lights up simulating a natural sunrise. It comes with a regular alarm clock feature as well, but with more soothing sounds to wake up to including an FM radio and birds. There are 20 levels of light intensity and you can set the max you want it to brighten to for morning wake-up. The max is 250 lux so this is not best to use as a therapy light, but will help you feel better when waking up, especially during the winter. Philips reports that this light is 100% UV free.

Pros of the Philips Wake-Up Light HF3470

  • Light intensity adjusts
  • Works as a regular alarm clock
  • Snooze button
  • Can be used as a reading lamp
  • No UV lights

Cons of the Philips Wake-Up Light HF3470

  • No AM radio setting
  • Not a fully featured alarm clock with multiple alarm setting options
Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light, White
Amazon Price: $99.99 $70.47 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 21, 2013)

Sphere Gadget Technologies SP9882 Lightphoria Review

This is your best option for a SAD light box if you want small, desk size, portable, and bright. It has three light intensity levels up to 10,000 lux and a timer. It’s small size, only about 6 inches square and 1 inch thick makes it perfect for the desk, nightstand, and for packing when you travel. It even comes with a travel pouch. It’s also the most reasonably priced for what you get. It has all the basic features you need in a light box for SAD but without the expensive price tag.  

Pros of the Sphere Gadget Technologies SP9882 Lightphoria

  • Portable
  • Cheap

Cons of the Sphere Gadget Technologies SP9882 Lightphoria

  • Can’t adjust the tilt of the light box significantly
  • Must plug in to an electrical outlet
Lightphoria Euphoric Energy Light System
Amazon Price: $65.00 $59.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 21, 2013)

Safety Tips

Never look directly at the light in your light box as this can damage your eyes over time. Position the light box so that it creates ambient light that is not shining directly into your eyes. Buy one that is designed to treat SAD or it may not work and can even damage your eyes. Choose one that emits as little UV light as possible to prevent eye damage. Do not use a light therapy lamp designed to treat skin disorders. These emit UV light which is not something you need or want to treat SAD.

Additional Info About Light Boxes for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Light boxes for SAD can be made with LED lights, blue lights, lfourescent lights, and incandescent lights. None of these choices are considered better or worse than the other. The Mayo Clinic does report that, "Some research shows blue light may be slightly more effective at reducing seasonal affective disorder symptoms than other types of light..." However, studies are limited and not conclusive. If you choose to buy a blue SAD light, be more careful not to look directly into the box as there may be a great risk for the blue light to cause eye damage.

Lightphoria Euphoric Energy Light System
Amazon Price: $65.00 $59.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 21, 2013)


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  1. "Seasonal affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light box." Mayo Clinic. 11/01/2013 <Web >

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