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Which architect lights are best?

In the not too distant past, architects and engineers would spend hours studying, drawing and measuring using physical blueprints spread over a well-lit drafting table. As the world has become increasingly digital, much of this workflow has moved to computers. In spite of the changing times, the lights used by those in the architectural industry have remained popular.

Dubbed “architect lights,” these lamps are a workstation mainstay, thanks to their flexibility and brightness. The Joly Joy Swing Arm Lamp combines the features that have given these lights their staying power with modern LEDs and customizable lighting options.

What to consider before you buy an architect light

What is an architect light?

While the term is somewhat loose, an architect light is typically a lamp that attaches or rests on a desk or workstation with a positionable boom arm. The arm allows you to move the lamp into a position of your choosing and lock it in place. 

Who uses architect lights?

Architect lights are favored by artists, electricians, craftspeople, musicians and many more. Anyone who spends time working at a desk or table can benefit from the targeted illumination that architect lights provide. Thanks to their aesthetics, architect lights also make attractive, industrial-style additions to modern homes and offices.

Architect light placement

Consider where you intend to place your architect light in order to choose the best model for you. For example, if placed on a table or purchased for looks over function, a model with a heavy base will allow you to put the light where you like it and easily relocate it if needed. For those who intend to use the light for work or hobby crafting, a model with a clamp allows for a sturdier, more permanent placement.

What to look for in a quality architect light


Choose a lamp that either includes a bright light or allows you to swap bulbs in order to meet your preferences. In addition, many of today’s LED architect lights feature a dimmer. This allows you to customise the brightness of your lamp to your preference.

Variable light types

LED architect lamps often allow you to change the quality of the light they produce. Warm light is easier on the eyes. Its orange glow, however, may not be ideal for people who need to pay close attention to color. Cool light is crisper and more brilliant but can be too harsh for some users to spend a lot of time using. Many lamps allow you to combine these two light types into one, allowing for a wide range of customization and comfort.

Boom arm

Select an architect lamp that features an arm with as much articulation as possible. The more flexibility you have when it comes to pointing your light, the less likely you are to feel the need to move the entire lamp. Longer boom arms allow you to light up even very large desks or tables.


Architect lights with heavy, solid bases are ideal for those who intend to move the lamp either for aesthetic or better functionality. They are best for use on tables or desks that do not have an area where you can clamp your light too. Lights that include a clamping base are best for more permanent situations. Lights that clamp to your desk are also far less likely to be accidentally knocked to the floor and damaged.

Bulb type

Lights that use traditional light bulbs allow you to customize the brightness and quality of the light they produce by swapping bulbs. Lamps that feature built-in LEDs allow you to adjust the brightness and light type via their switch. The bulb type you choose is largely up to your personal taste. Keep in mind that lamps that use traditional bulbs may not allow certain wattages due to heat buildup, whereas LED lamps will remain cool to the touch.


Select a lamp with an easily accessible switch. Some models have a switch on the lamp itself, while others have it built into their power cable. LED models allow you to adjust their light quality and type via their switch. Some lamps also include remote controls for maximum convenience.

How much you can expect to spend on an architect light

Because they are available in so many configurations and materials, architect light prices vary from as low as $15 to over $100. However, the average user will be able to find architect lights that fit their needs for $20-$50.

Architect light FAQ

Are architect lamps USB powered?

A. Most LED architect lamps feature a cable that draws power from a USB block or hub. In many cases, this block is not included with the lamp.

Are there battery-powered architect lights?

A. Portable battery-powered architect lights are available, but these models are small and best suited for nightstands and shelves as opposed to workstations.

Are there architect lamps that include a phone charger?

A. Some architect lamps feature a USB port you can charge your device from. Other models may also feature a wireless charging pad. 

What are the best architect lights to buy?

Top architect light

Joly Joy Swing Arm Lamp

Joly Joy Swing Arm Lamp

What you need to know: This lamp is made of aluminum and folds up neatly when not in use.

What you’ll love: A wide spectrum of LED light choices, a sturdy clamp and control via touch or remote make this lamp a great addition to any workspace. 

What you should consider: Some users find the placement of this lamp’s power cable to work against its flexibility. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top architect light for the money

Enoch LED Desk Lamp

Enoch LED Desk Lamp

What you need to know: This metal lamp features a sturdy clamp and controls built into its power cable.

What you’ll love: This architect light features three color modes, 10 brightness settings and a shade over its LEDs that help to prevent it from shining into your eyes while you’re working.

What you should consider: This lamp would benefit from a few more points of articulation.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

TORCHSTAR Metal Swing Arm Desk Lamp

TORCHSTAR Metal Swing Arm Desk Lamp

What you need to know: For those looking for a more traditional look, this architect light features a classic design.

What you’ll love: This light’s vintage aesthetics provide a classy, retro look. It can be used with its weighted base or its included clamp. It’s available in three colors. 

What you should consider: Because it does not feature a built-in LED, this light has limited customization features and requires you to provide a bulb.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Architect lamp tips

Mind your eyes. Some LED lamps don’t remember your previous brightness settings and power on at maximum illumination. Be sure to keep your lamp pointed away from your eyes when turning it on to prevent it from blinding you.

Follow manufacturer’s recommendations. For architect lights that require you to use a traditional light bulb, make sure not to exceed the recommended wattage to prevent fire hazards or damage to your lamp.

Keep your switch handy. Lights that feature a switch built into their power cable require that the cable is within reach to turn your lamp on or off easily. Some people affix a small piece of Velcro to the back of their switch so they can stick it to the side of their desk for easy access.

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Derek Walborn writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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