Circadian Optics Review

Ever since Circadian Optics landed on Shark Tank and amassed a net worth of around $7 million, they’ve become one of the most popular light therapy lamp brands.

So of course we purchased and tested every single one!

Doesn’t it seem like every single light therapy lamp on the market advertises:

10,000 LUX!

Well, this claim is meaningless unless you know where you get 10,000 lux, which is often 6″ from a device and ain’t nobody sittin’ 6″ from a light therapy lamp.

Circadian Optics is not immune from this marketing ploy, but they do clarify this in their manuals:

circadian optics manuals
Here we can see 10,000 lux is supposedly achieved at 5-6″ and 9″

Listen, I’m not wedded to this whole 10,000 lux thing anyway.

  1. 10,000 lux is not even remotely necessary to achieve circadian activation.
  2. Lux isn’t even that great of a measurement tool for circadian activity in the first place.

But it’s just annoying that every light therapy company uses this large number on every single device no matter what it actually outputs.

We did a video for this review as well if that’s more your speed!

Testing the Circadian Optics Lamps

Light therapy lamps are supposed to be helpful in alleviating symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, depression, and insomnia.

Let’s get into the testing to see how well these might perform.

How Do We Test Our Lights?

I’m so glad you asked.

We set up our lights in a dark room and measure them with a lab-grade spectrometer to get real readings of their output, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

But that’s not all!

Most people don’t know this, but as LEDs heat up (and boy do they heat up), their spectral properties change…

Some lights get brighter, while some get dimmer. Some lights get more blue while some get more red, it’s hard to say until you turn them on and collect the data!

Which we do.

So we set up our lights, turn them on and take a reading every minute for one full hour, and we average those results.

This gives us a much more accurate reading of lights versus the manufacturer’s claims, as they simply turn a light on, measure it, and turn it back off.

Total Lux

LUX! The almighty lux.

We decided to test all of the lamps at 1 foot for an hour in order to get an average total lux reading. This is because lux output from LEDs changes over time.

To illustrate this point, here’s a graph detailing the changes seen in lux output for five of the lamps:

circadian optics Lux Output Over Time graphic

As you can see the general trend is a dip of about ~200 lux within the first 10 minutes or so.

I left out the Lampu since its high lux output messes up my graph, so here’s a separate graph:

Lampu Lux Over Time graphic

Woah! Unlike the other lamps, the Lampu actually increases in lux over time. This is why we cannot get a snapshot measurement from these kinds of products.

Here’s a graph showing the average lux from these lamps over that 60-minute period:

circadian optics average lux at 1 foot graph

As you can see, the Lampu comes out way on top! While the Lattis is also quite a bit brighter than all the rest.

A stand out here is actually the Luxy. Since it’s so small, its lux output is pretty impressive.

But enough about Lux, let’s get into a metric that’s a bit more useful than that.

Circadian Light

Lux is currently the “go-to” metric for light therapy effectiveness, but it’s not really designed for that.

Lux is actually a measurement of the amount of “visible light” hitting an area. However, it’s weighted towards 555 nm green, as the human eye is most visually sensitive to the middle of the visible spectrum.

However, this really has nothing to do with the portions of the visible spectrum that most effectively activate the circadian response in the brain and eyes.

For that, a metric called circadian light has been developed, which is weighted specifically to estimate how effectively a light source will trigger the brain to alert you that it’s daytime.

circadian optics Circadian Light bar graph

For the most part, circadian light (or CLA) tracks right alongside lux with these lights.

However, one pair stands out!

Look at Lumos 2.0 and Lumine really quickly and then go check the lux graph again.

You’ll notice that the Lumine produces more lux than the Lumos, and yet the Lumos is putting out more CLA than the Lumine! Interesting…

This is because the Lumos 2.0 has a much bluer color temperature.

Speaking of which…

Color Temperature

Circadian Optics claims that all its lights emit a flat 5500K light, much like the noonday sun. However, like most lighting products, this claim is inaccurate.

Below is a graph of each light’s color temperature over the course of a 60-minute period:

Correlated Color Temperature Over Time

As you can see, the lights change color over time as the LEDs heat up, this is fairly normal for LEDs.

The only lamp that was ever 5500K was the Lumine and that only lasted for about 10 minutes! However, it does eventually stick to around 5700K which makes it the most true to the claim out of the six.

Below we have a graph of the average color temperatures over a one-hour period:

circadian optics Correlated Color Temperature graph

You can now see how the Lumos 2.0 might be the more effective circadian lamp over the Lumine even though the Lumine produces a bit more “lux”.

Color Rendering Index

Color temperature isn’t all there is to whether or not a light resembles the sun. What we really want to see is a high color rendering index or CRI.

The more a light source mimics the full-color depth of the sun, the closer to a perfect 100 score it will have.

Modern true “full spectrum” LEDs will often score in the 95-98 range.

Circadian optics lights however are just pretty average…

Color Rendering Index of circadian optics lamps

A few things we can see.

  1. All of these lights are pretty average to poor as far as color quality goes and don’t really excel here.
  2. Even though the Lampu is the brightest of all the lights, it also produces the lowest quality color output.
  3. The Lattis however, which is the second brightest, is also the best looking.

Spectral Power Distribution Graph

One last thing we’ll touch on is the actual spectral graphs, just because I think they’re cool. Cuz I’m a nerd like that.

All of these lamps use your typical blue LED phosphor pump diodes. What on earth does that mean?

Most “white” LEDs are actually blue. the trick is to coat the LED surface with a phosphor compound that when excited by the blue radiation, glows a broad spectrum yellow.

Here, let me show you:

circadian optics lamps spectral power distribution graph average
This is the average spectrum from all six Circadian Optics lamps.

See that big blue spike? That’s the blue LED. See that big greenyellowred hump? That’s the phosphor coating.

Together they make a “white” light! Pretty neat eh?

Anyways, that’s about it. Onto the best choices!

The Best Circadian Optics Lights

If I had to pick my favorites out of the six, these would be it.

For more information on light therapy lamps be sure to check out our database!

Light Therapy Database Button

And also best out our article on the best SAD lamps if that’s what you’re on the hunt for!

1. Lampu – Best Overall

Out of the six models we tested, the Lampu was the winner in all of the most important categories, such as total lux, circadian light, and glare (or lux per in2).

It’s very easy to use, the light is comfortable and bright, and it looks pretty nice too!

Lampu Light Therapy Lamp

lampu light therapy lamp product photo

Pros

  • Far brighter than every other lamp
  • Angle and glare are very good for desk use

Cons

  • Most expensive option made by Circadian Optics

2. Luxy – Best Portable

If you’re looking for a portable and very effective light therapy lamp, Luxy is a beast!

I was actually really surprised by the output on this one. It puts out a ton of light for its size and didn’t get as hot as I’d expected during our testing

Pick this one up if you’re looking for a small, portable but highly effective light therapy lamp.

Luxy Light Therapy Lamp

luxy light therapy lamp product photo

Pros

  • Power anywhere with USB
  • Portable and easy to travel with
  • Extremely bright for the money

Cons

  • May be uncomfortable due to its small size and high lux output

3. Lattis – Runner-Up

The Lattis is our runner-up due to its unique artsy design and effective light output.

This lamp comes just second to the Lampu in raw light output among the six Circadian Optics lights we tested. It also has the best color quality among all six!

If you’re looking for a light therapy lamp that also doubles as an art piece this is a great pick!

Lattis Light Therapy Lamp

lattis light therapy lamp product photo

Pros

  • The best color quality of all Circadian Optics lamps
  • Beautiful, unique, and well-built design
  • Very bright and effective

Cons

  • Must be placed on a shelf for optimal angle

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Circadian Optics Lights Work?

Rest assured that all of these lights are effective at resetting and aligning your circadian rhythm.

However, several variables will change their effectiveness:

  1. The lamp itself and its particular light output.
  2. Your distance from the lamp.
  3. The selected brightness setting.
  4. Your own individual sensitivity to light.

In order to get the most out of these or any other light, ensure that you’re getting the minimum Circadian Stimulus from your light by finding it on our database and using the CS Calculator to determine the time needed for the minimum dose at your selected distance and brightness levels!

How to Use Circadian Optics Lights: Instructions and Directions

Circadian Optics recommends that you place their lamps 1-2 feet away, don’t look directly into the light, and use it for 10 minutes at first to see how you react.

After that, you can increase the brightness as you are comfortable and the duration up to the 30-60 minutes that they recommend.

It is also recommended that you use the light consistently at the same time every day, usually in the morning.

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