Best Headboard Lamps

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

37 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
452 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best headboard lamps

Last Updated December 2019

Bright central lighting is a great feature in a room, until it’s time to go to sleep. A headboard lamp can give you the light you need to wind down without forcing a lights-out trek back across the room. Headboard lamps tend to be smaller than regular lamps, so they cast dimmer light that lets your body more easily prepare for sleep. Even so, they provide plenty of light to check a message, read a book, or chat as you close out the day.

When choosing a headboard lamp, there are several considerations. Some lamps can be permanently attached to your headboard or the wall at the head of your bed. Others slip over the headboard with hooks or clip on for convenience. Many must be plugged into an electrical outlet; some run on batteries. Keep reading to learn more about styles and features of headboard lamps. When you’re ready to buy, check our product recommendations.

Mom was mistaken: doctors say that reading in dim light doesn’t hurt your eyesight — weakness is simply an effect of aging. However, sufficient light can reduce eyestrain and headaches and decrease eye fatigue that can cut your reading session short.

Key considerations

Power source

You can use headboard lamps in your bedroom whether or not you have easy access to electrical outlets.

Some headboard lamps plug directly into the wall. Though you might have to change light bulbs, you never run out of power. However, you need outlets within reach or strategically placed extension cords to use them.

No outlets? No problem. You can find headboard lamps that run on batteries. These can be used anywhere, but you occasionally need to replace the batteries. Using rechargeable batteries may help you save money, as long as they’re compatible with your headboard lamp.

Attachment method

If you’re looking for a permanent fixture, select a lamp that can be mounted on your headboard or on the wall. Wall-mounted options are obviously more securely attached than clips, but once you pick a spot, you’re committed. This style requires tools to install, so make sure you have the proper equipment or are prepared to have someone else do the job.

Renters or those who don’t want to drill holes have options, too. Look for headboard lamps that clip to the board or hook over the back. In either case, check to make sure the fixture opens wide enough to accommodate your headboard. Clip-on lamps offer the most flexibility but do not always stay in place as well.

Bulb type

Incandescent light bulbs have been around for far more than a century, and their latest and greatest versions can still illuminate your headboard lamp. Lamps that use incandescent bulbs often provide softer light that’s preferable for talking or reading. They can be energy hogs and break more frequently than other types. For these reasons, they’re getting harder to find. They can also get extremely hot, so there are safer options.

Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) can also be used with many lamps designed for incandescent bulbs. These energy-efficient bulbs use significantly less power to provide the same brightness as incandescent bulbs and usually last much longer. Unfortunately, they contain mercury, so you must take special measures to dispose of them when they finally break. They tend to cast a slightly harsher light than incandescent bulbs.

The most advanced lamps cast light from light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs are at least 75% more efficient than incandescent and CFL bulbs and last an incredibly long time. A number have been designed to fit in lamps designed for older bulbs. They do, however, cast light directionally, making them better in smaller gooseneck lamps than in lamps meant to illuminate a large area. Their light can be significantly brighter than other bulb styles.

Light footprint

Headboard lamps cast varying amounts of light, depending upon their size and position. If you share a room, consider whether light from your lamp may disturb others. If you’re a night owl with an early-to-bed partner, consider a smaller light that won’t carry across the room. 

Light tones

Recent research has shown that different tones of light affect your brain, retina, and even your sleep cycles. Lights with orange, yellow, and reddish tones soothe your body systems and move your body toward sleep. Bright white lights or tones that border on blue stimulate your retina much like the daytime sky. If you’re sensitive to light or have difficulty falling asleep, look for lights that will help you wind down rather than wind you up. Some headboard lamps even dim to help you drift off sooner.

EXPERT TIP

A headboard lamp can free up space on your nightstand by eliminating the need for a tabletop lamp.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Adjustability

If you like to keep your options open, look for headboard lamps that are adjustable. While some only come in one fixed position, others have hinged swing arms that allow you to extend and retract the light. Gooseneck lamps can bend at even more flexible angles than swing arm lamps but sometimes can bend so far that they fall.

Shades

Bedroom décor should suit your style and personality, and your headboard lamp is no different. Shades come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to fit your style. Classic or ruffled shades perfectly blend with more traditional décor, while sleek, smooth looks complement a contemporary room. The most modern-looking headboard lamps totally lack shades for a futuristic motif.

Off and on

You have several options for powering headboard lamps on and off. Some operate on a traditional flip switch, while others respond with the pull of a chain. A handful have dials or touch-responsive panels. Whichever you choose is a matter of preference.

EXPERT TIP

LED headboard lamps don’t heat up like other styles, so they’re a great pick for children, who may fall asleep reading.


Staff  | BestReviews

Headboard lamp prices

Inexpensive: You can find budget-priced headboard lamps starting between $15 and $20. At this price, lamps usually feature LEDs and clip onto your headboard or nightstand. While they don’t cast a lot of light, they have flexible necks that can be easily angled for reading.

Mid-range: The next tier of headboard lamps generally costs $30 to $40. Lamps can be found in almost any style you want: contemporary or traditional, clip-on or mounted, LED or incandescent. It’s hard to go wrong in this price range.

Expensive: The highest-priced headboard lamps cost between $40 and $50 per lamp. At this price, most lamps need to be mounted to your wall or headboard. They use bulbs rather than built-in LEDs and are more a fixed piece of furniture than a flexible accessory.

EXPERT TIP

A headboard lamp can reduce your risk of tripping and falling over shoes or the corner of your bed after turning out the light.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Smart light bulbs can make your nighttime routine easier, but you need to buy a headboard lamp that’s compatible.
  • Battery-powered clip lamps can light your sleeping quarters anywhere you go — even when camping.
  • Directional, long-necked LED lamps cast a narrow light footprint, so they won’t disturb a sleeping partner.

Other products we considered

If you think all hook-on headboard lamps are frilly, think again. Ella Gancz Headboard Reading Lamp boasts a contemporary, minimalist linen shade that illuminates your bed and your style. Simple rubber-tipped hooks make for tool-free installation.

Many gooseneck LED lamps light only a small area, but YUHAN Flexible Gooseneck LED Lamp illuminates a wider field. Three LEDs give you a larger field of use. It’s very bright, so keep this in mind if you tend to be extremely photosensitive.

If you and a partner both want light, try a pair of matching sconce-style lamps or a single headboard lamp that can hook in the middle of the headboard.

FAQ

Q. How many watts should a headboard lamp be?
A.
Most lighting experts recommend lights ranging from 40 to 60 watts for a nightstand or headboard lamp. It’s considered an ideal range for reading, looking at notes, or other end-of-day activities. This measurement translates to 450 to 800 lumens if you’re looking at LED lights. If you are age 60 or older, you may need closer to 100 watts (1,600 lumens) to see well at night.
 

Q. Is a sconce-style or gooseneck style better?
A.
It depends on your needs. Sconce-style lamps cast more light over a larger area and are preferable for adding a soft glow to the room. This is helpful if you’re working or looking over notes and need to see a wider area, but it’s more likely to disturb a partner. Gooseneck lamps can bend so they’re more targeted, illuminating a small space like a book. Lights that use LEDs tend to shine in only one direction, so their light is even more targeted.
 

Q. Do I need a lampshade?
A.
Lampshades aren’t just for decorative purposes, they’re meant to direct light and guard your eyes from direct sight of the bulb. Shades also eliminate glare on reflective surfaces, which can fatigue your eyes and bother those with retina problems. Shades that are white or off-white allow more light dispersal, but colored shades may better accent your décor or soften brighter light from more modern, efficient bulbs. You can even find modern-looking lamps with sleek metal, plastic, or fabric shades, so don’t let a contemporary room design stop you.

The team that worked on this review
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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