The Best Night Light
With more than 35 hours of testing and research, we determined that the Maxxima LED Multi-Color nightlight is the best nightlight on the market. In addition to a month of detailed testing, we continued to use the Maxxima nightlight for an additional nine months in our homes. That testing, in conjunction with our conversation with a Department of Defense-funded Ph.D in neuroscience, has reinforced our initial conclusion that the Maxxima nightlight is the best nightlight on the market.
In addition to providing the perfect amount of red light to serve as a comforting nightlight, the Maxxima can easily be set to provide brighter white light for hallways, bathrooms, or anywhere else (outside the bedroom) where additional light is needed.
Read on to find out how we chose this nightlight, as well as the health advantages to using red light instead of white or blue light as a bedroom nightlight for you or your children.
Our Pick: Maxxima LED Multi-Color
Affordability, versatility and great build quality make this our pick. The LED bulb is rated to last for 100,000 hours.
Table of Contents
- Why we are qualified to rate nightlights
- How we found the best nightlights on the market
- Does the nightlight you use really matter?
- Who should buy new nightlights?
- How we tested the finalists
- The best overall nightlight
- The best nightlight for young children
- Honorable mention – Maxxima LED Night Light with Swivel Head
- The other nightlights we tested in-house
- Long-term testing notes
- The bottom line
Why we are qualified to rate nightlights
In our efforts to determine which nightlights are best, we spent more than 35 hours reading studies, news articles, blog posts, forums, and Reddit threads to see what the consensus was among experts and users alike.
Once our research helped us determine who we needed to speak with, we contacted several experts and researchers to get our information directly from the source.
We spoke extensively with Tracy Bedrosian, a Ph.D in Neuroscience from Ohio State University who is also now a researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She went into detail with us about why the lights we use in the home matter, as well as the negative impacts associated with using the wrong types of light.
We were able to verify the information we discussed with Dr. Bedrosian through our own research, and we feel confident that the conclusions we came to with the assistance of the doctor are valid for the purposes of determining which nightlights are best for your home.
How we found the best nightlights on the market
In order to find the best nightlights available on the market, we first narrowed down the potential candidates to only those that used LED bulbs. LED bulbs are widely regarded as better than the other types of bulbs available for nightlights, for a few reasons:
First off, LED bulbs produce significantly less heat than incandescent bulbs. In addition to making LED bulbs safer, this also means that they are more energy-efficient, since more energy is being used to generate light instead of wasted heat.
LED bulbs also last much longer than other bulbs commonly used in nightlights. While some nightlights, such as AmerTac Cool Blue light claims that it will last “forever”, nightlights such as these simply don’t produce enough light to really be useful. Even more importantly, they utilize blue light, which our research indicates is the worst possible light for hormonal balance and your circadian rhythm.
For nightlights that will be used in the bedroom, it is strongly preferable that the lights produce only red light, and have as close to zero white or blue light as possible. The impact of blue light in particular while sleeping has been linked to numerous health problems.
Exceptions can be made for nightlights that are used in hallways or bathrooms. While red light is ideal, sometimes red light simply does not illuminate larger areas enough to be useful. For situations like that, white light is an acceptable — but by no means ideal — alternative.
It was also important that the nightlights produced sufficient light to be useful, while not creating so much light that they would impair sleep. We used the Pyle PLMT Light Meter to measure how much light each nightlight produced, as well as how much that light decreased at specific distance intervals.
We discussed the use of this light sensor with Dr. Bedrosian, who said that, for our purposes, it would be a reliable measure of light emitted by the nightlights we tested.
Finally, nightlights should have an automatic “on/off” sensor, which turns the nightlights on when it is dark, and off when it is light. In addition to saving unnecessary energy use, this also ensures that the nightlights will be automatically lit only when you need them.
With these criteria in mind, we found the nightlights that were most highly-regarded among consumers and experts, then found the best products among those that also matched the specifications described directly above.
All of the nightlights we tested are highly-rated. While we ultimately chose what we believe to be the overall “best” product, each of the six products are useful and worth purchasing in the right context.
The six best nightlights
|Maxxima LED Multi-Color||Mixed||$$|
|Kinderglo Portable Night Light||Children||$$$|
|Maxxima LED Night Light with Swivel Head||Children||$$|
|Gummygoods Night Light - Red||Children||$$$|
|IKEA SPÖKA Night Light - Short||Children||$$$|
|Safety 1st LED Nightlight||Mixed||$|
Does the nightlight you use really matter?
In a word: Yes.
While researching which nightlights are best, we spoke at length with Dr. Bedrosian, one of the two lead researchers on the 2013 study we mentioned earlier.
The study, which was conducted primarily by the Department of Neuroscience at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, and funded in large part by a fellowship granted to Tracy Bedrosian, provided key insights into the very real dangers that too much light — and particularly blue spectrum light — can have on both children and adults.
That study concluded that blue spectrum light — which is also a part of “regular” white light from a light bulb — can cause of number of severe health issues, including: hormone imbalances, disrupted circadian rhythm, suppressed melatonin secretion, and even a potential increase in cancer risk.
Adults and children who regularly sleep near blue spectrum light are also at risk for negative mood changes, a slower metabolism, compromised immune function, decreased quality of sleep, and overall reduced energy levels.
The bottom line: If you’re going to have a nightlight in your room, if at all possible it should be limited to red spectrum light. If you have children you are buying a nightlight for, this is even more imperative.
Who should buy new nightlights?
It’s understandable that the argument of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” might be compelling for anyone who already has nightlights in their home. For those who already have nightlights and aren’t sure if it’s worth replacing them, we encourage you to take a look at the summary of the study conducted by Doctors Randy Nelson and Tracy Bedrosian at Ohio State University.
The study goes into more detail about the negative effects that sleeping with white or blue light nearby can have — and there are numerous other studies that support their claims as well.
When deciding whether or not you want nightlights in your home, it’s worth considering if a nightlight would be beneficial in your bathroom (so you can avoid turning on the main light in the middle of the night) or for a hallway (so you don’t accidentally stub your toe on the way to the bathroom).
A red nightlight can also be useful for a child who doesn’t like sleeping in darkness. Nightlights are substantially better than leaving a television on to comfort your child — if for no other reason than the blue spectrum light that they’ll be avoiding.
One thing worth mentioning is that nightlights are reasonably affordable, even when purchasing nightlights with LED bulbs. That, coupled with the fact that LED bulbs in most nightlights are rated to last for around a decade with regular use, along with an annual electrical cost around 25 cents, means that anyone on the fence about the benefits of a nightlight in their bedroom, bathroom, or hallway can likely justify the expense.
How we tested the finalists
Most of the quantitative criteria — such as bulb type, bulb life expectancy, manufacturer reputation, inclusion of an automatic on/off sensor, and color of light emitted (among others) — was determined before bringing any of the products in for in-house testing.
As we mentioned earlier, each of the six products we tested in-house are great products, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. That being said, we still wanted to find the best overall nightlight, so we used a combination of qualitative testing along with some more quantitative comparisons to do exactly that.
We also looked at the overall build quality of each product. We found that, despite the relative affordability of each of the nightlights, the build quality stood out on both of the Maxxima products we tested.
Finally, we measured the amount of light emitted (measured in lux) by each nightlight at a distance of six inches, two feet, three feet, and six feet — a reasonable amount of distance between a bed and a wall socket.
Ideally a nightlight provides a high level of light over a short distance (for example, six inches to two or three feet away), then quickly drops off so as not to be particularly visible from bed. We visualized the results below:
Measured in lux (a standard unit of illuminance, or brightness), all of our finalists drop off the scale long before they reach six feet. The Maxxima Swivel generates light the furthest — measuring just under one lux at three feet, while the rest all disappear entirely at two feet or less.
The Maxxima Swivel also provides by far the most light at short range, which emphasizes the fact that the Maxxima Swivel is a great solution for hallways or bathrooms, where significant light is needed in a narrow area.
In addition, all of the finalists we tested will have a minimal impact on sleep, since the lux they generate drops off well before six feet.
The best overall nightlight
While all six of the nightlights we tested serve a purpose, none of them are as multi-purpose as the Maxxima LED Multi-Color nightlight. We liked this nightlight above all the others because it is affordable, has great build quality, and offers greater versatility than any other product we tested.
In terms of affordability, the cost for this nightlight on Amazon is $5.99 for one, and $10.99 for two. In addition, the LED bulb is rated to last for 100,000 hours, which translates to approximately eleven and a half years of continuous use. The electrical cost for LED bulbs is negligible as well — with estimates around 25 cents per year with typical use.
The “multi” feature of the Maxxima LED Multi-Color nightlight is easy to use as well: There is a small switch on the front of the light which can be used to quickly and easily change between red, white, and blue lighting. While we don’t have any specific use-cases for the blue setting, we are sure that the setting is appealing to some segment of consumers.
The red lighting is the ideal setting for most situations, particularly the bedroom, since the research we read through and discussed with Dr. Bedrosian indicated a substantially-reduced risk of any negative impact, especially when compared to blue wavelengths in white and (obviously) blue lights.
That being said, there are downsides to red lighting — namely, red light isn’t that bright. While that’s a good thing in the context of a bedroom nightlight, as well as for those who can safely navigate to the restroom with the relative dimness of red light , it can pose a problem in situations where more light is needed.
Low cost and with doctor approved red light, the Maxxima is a great choice for normal use.
Fortunately, the Maxxima nightlight also has the capability of producing brighter light with its white LED bulb. This setting is ideal for hallways, bathrooms, and anywhere else where additional light is needed to safely navigate. Even better, we didn’t find the white light to be particularly harsh, so brief exposure shouldn’t dramatically impact sleep patterns.
Although a relatively minor point, we found the auto on/off sensor to be particularly effective as well. The sensor seemed to be well-tuned, quicking turning on the nightlight when ambient light dimmed.
We also appreciated the fact that, unlike other nightlights with an ambient light sensor, the Maxxima nightlight didn’t flicker when it was on the border between turning on and turning off. Instead, the light turns on and off gradually.
The light from the Maxxima LED Multi-Color also strikes an effective balance between providing enough light to be useful, while also dissipating quickly enough that it is unlikely to have any substantial impact on sleep.
With its long lifespan, affordable pricing, and versatility, the Maxxima LED Multi-Color Nightlight was easily the best pick of our finalists.
The best nightlight for young children
While the Maxxima LED Multi-Color can be used effectively as a nightlight in a young child’s room, we thought that some people would like to have a nightlight that is a little more tailored to their child.
The Kinderglo Portable Night Light is widely regarded by everyone from parenting blogs to Amazon reviewers to be among the best nightlights for children, so we wanted to test it out for ourselves.
The build quality of this product is fantastic, especially when you consider that it is a $22 product on Amazon. This night light utilizes BPA and lead free plastic, and is made with soft touch materials.
A safe and fun kid-friendly design, paired with reasonable cost, make this a great choice.
The recharging base works well, and it took about 8 hours to fully charge the light. A full charge will last throughout the night without any problems, and the light can either be set to turn off automatically after 30 minutes, or simply stay on until the battery dies (or it’s turned off).
While the Kinderglo offers red, blue, and green light, as well as an option to shift between the colors, we strongly recommend leaving it only on the red light setting (for the health reasons we went over earlier in this post).
If you are looking for a night light that is well suited for infants, toddlers, and very young children, this can be a great alternative to the Maxxima LED Multi-Color, since it also adds an element of interactivity for your child.
Honorable mention — Maxxima LED with Swivel Head
Although not as versatile as Maxxima’s multi-color nightlight, we were so impressed by this nightlight that we had to give it an Honorable mention. The LED Night Light with Swivel Head is a cheap ($3.59) light that provides sufficient light for a bathroom, and to a lesser extent a hallway.
Just like the Maxxima LED Multi-Color, the Swivel nightlight has an auto on/off switch which prevents the light from being on when it is not needed. We found the swivel to be particularly useful for the bathroom, because the light can be directed towards the sink or toilet, and not directly into your eyes.
While this is a great nightlight, we chose the Maxxima LED Multi-Color over this one for two main reasons: The light is a little too bright and directed to be an effective night light, and more importantly, there isn’t a red light setting available.
That being said, for under $4, this is a great nightlight for the bathroom, or a small hallway where stubbing your toe is a risk you’d like to avoid.
The other nightlights we tested in-house
The other three nightlights we tested in-house were great as well. However, they were each limited, or outdone, in one way or another by our top three picks. That being said, they are worth taking a look at, as each does fulfill a specific niche.
The Gummygoods nightlight works similarly to the Kinderglo. However, the fact that it uses AA batteries turned out to be a major, and negative, distinguishing factor. While the Kinderglo can be recharged on its base every day, the Gummygoods nightlight needs to either be set to automatically turn off, or you need to be prepared to buy a lot of AA batteries (or spend extra money on rechargeable AA batteries).
On the plus side, the bear is undeniably cute, and the red light can be turned on and off just by squeezing it — something that young children would likely find fun and comforting.
Similarly, the SPÖKA from IKEA has an undeniable “cuteness” to it, and the red light is just bright enough to see where you’re going when walking around. It also uses an internal AAA battery (which is included, along with a charger).
Most importantly, the light only lasts for about five hours on a full charge, which means that when your child wakes up at 3am, they won’t have their nightlight to comfort them. It also means you’ll be stuck choosing between turning on your bright main light or fumbling around in the darkness — which really defeats the purpose of having a nightlight in the first place.
Finally, there isn’t really anything wrong with the Safety 1st LED nightlight. It’s cheap ($7.99 for two on Amazon), doesn’t get hot, and provides a decent amount of light for hallways and bathrooms. However, there is no red LED option, and the light it generates is not focused in any way.
In addition, Safety 1st’s selling point that their nightlight is “cool to the touch” is legitimate, but is equally true for every LED nightlight, including our Top Pick and Honorable Mention.
Long-term testing notes
We initially published this post in March of 2016, and since then we have continued to use both the Maxxima nightlights. They continue to work as well as they did the day we first tested them. They have caused no hassles of any kind and have required zero maintenance — they simply light the hallway and bathroom.
One of the nice things about switching to a LED night light is the fact that the bulbs should last at least a decade or two. Unlike incandescent bulbs of the past, which might have already needed replacing, our LED night light bulbs have only utilized a small fraction of their overall lifespan.
The bottom line
Not everyone wants, or needs, a nightlight in their room. However, if you do plan to have a nightlight in your room or the room of your child, you are substantially better off if you have red light instead of white or blue light.
White and blue light has been scientifically proven to cause a number of health problems, and in today’s busy world the last thing anyone wants to do is cause harm to themselves or their children.
The Maxxima LED Multi-Color nightlight provides a safe, warm light that is ideal for a nightlight in your room or the room of your child (on the red setting), as a soft white light for hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, etc., and a blue light that probably has a use for someone, somewhere (just not in your bedroom!).
If you want a nightlight more tailored to your young child, the Kinderglo Portable Night Light is easy to recharge, completely safe for young children, and lasts throughout the night.