Where To Place Your Desk Lamp – The Ultimate Guide

The placement of a desk lamp is more important than you may think.

It will save your eye health in the long run and help you work more efficiently. With home lighting design in mind, we will cover where to place your desk lamp for optimal lighting when working or reading.

Now let’s dive into some common questions that occur when choosing where to place your desk lamp in your home or office.

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How To Maximize the Light For Your Desk Lamp

Unlike overhead lighting that illuminates the entire room with ceiling lights, light from desk lamps is usually directed towards a specific focal point like a book, keyboard, or work papers on your desk space.

Consider the following desk lamp tips:

Tip #1: Look For a Desk Lamp With Adjustable Angles

The reason to look for a lamp with adjustable angles is for greater lighting customization. With an adjustable arm, swivel or neck, you’ll be able to simply point the beam wherever you need the light at that moment without having to pick up and move the lamp.

Tip #2: Find the Right Size Desk Lamp for the Situation

Desks only have a certain amount of space, and most of that is needed for the activity the desk is being used for, like art, writing, or working. You’ll want to make sure you choose a big enough lamp that will give you enough light to work with but won’t take up too much space. Another alternative is choosing a lamp that clips onto the edge of the desk instead of sitting on top; this can save you precious workspace.

Tip #3: Understand That Placement Is Key

Placing your lamp on a particular side of the desk can impact glare and shadows. For example, if you are right-handed, place your lamp on the left side and vice versa; this will help you avoid annoying shadows. When using a computer, you’ll want to point the beam on the keyboard to ease eye strain yet away from the screen as it will create a pesky glare.

TROPICALTREE LED Desk Lamp, Swing arm Desk Light with clamp, 3 Lighting 10 Brightness Eye-Caring Modes, Reading Desk Lamps for Home Office 360 Degree Spin with USB Adapter & Memory Function black-14W
TROPICALTREE LED Desk Lamp with the swing arm and clamp, 3 Lighting, 10 Brightness Eye-Caring Modes, 360 Degree Spin, USB Adapter & Memory Function

What Is the Best Lighting Position for a Computer Desk?

Otus led architect computer desk lamp for home office
Otus led architect computer desk lamp for home office

The best lighting position for a computer desk is one that illuminates your keyboard, notebook, and mouse but does not shine directly on the screen or into your eyes where it will obscure your vision–we all wanted to avoid that dread glare.

For these purposes, we recommend an adjustable desk lamp like in the picture above as you can easily move the direction of the beam when needed.

You can also check out our article about how many lumens are ideal for a desk lamp for the perfect amount of brightness.

Where To Place Your Desk Lamp for Reading

BesLowe where to place a table lamp for reading
Where to place a table lamp for reading?
BesLowe table lamp.

Nothing beats the joys of reading, except when you have terrible lighting!

Not only is poor lighting when reading bothersome, but it makes it harder to see the words. It can also be highly detrimental to your eye health in the long run. 

So, where is the best position for your lamp when reading at night? Here are some helpful tips as to where to place your lamp for reading:

The optimal distance for your light source to your workspace should be approximately 15 inches.

Infographic of the proper distance of the light source to a desk.
The proper distance of the light source to a desk.

Place the desk lamp next to your shoulder and the lampshade at the same height as your head. This will help illuminate your book but reduce glare into your eyes.

Infographic The lampshade needs to be at the height of your head and relatively close.
The lampshade needs to be at the height of your head and relatively close.

Understand that one standard desk lamp will light up 40-50 square feet.

Infographic of general illuminance area of a desk lamp
General illuminance area of a desk lamp

Mitigate shadows and dark spaces with multiple lamps. Perfect for relatively bigger desks.

Infographic of Bigger work-spaces requires more illumination power. Workspace with two desk lamps.
Bigger work spaces require more illumination power.

Where To Place Your Desk Lamp in Your Home Office

Your home office is another area of the house where you’ll want to pay close attention to the lighting. Here are some general rules of thumb when it comes to choosing office lighting: 

  • Assess the natural light in your office for daytime work. Natural light is easier on your eyes and can be more pleasant
  • Use overhead lighting to help fill the space but don’t rely on it as the only light source as it can create hinder some shadows that can affect your workflow
  • Add a task light to your desk, like seen above, to illuminate your immediate workspace
  • Task lighting will help you see your work surface better, especially when writing, typing, or drawing
  • Use ambient light to set the mood for your office; this could be a soft white light or add some color to set the tone
  • Number one rule: stay away from fluorescent lighting. It can cause migraines, and fatigue and is overall unpleasant

Where Should I Place My Desk Lamp When I Have a Computer Monitor?

Place your desk lamp relatively close to your monitor at your workspace.
Place your desk lamp relatively close to your monitor.

The best place to put your desk lamp when using a screen is next to your computer with the beam pointing toward your keyboard or notebook. This will help to reduce glare and improve workflow due to having an optimal amount of light.

Where Should I Place My Lamp on a Desk With Two Monitors?

To avoid uneven lighting, shadows, and of course glare, it is recommended to use a swing arm desk lamp. These type of desk lamps distribute the light evenly across your desk but doesn’t point the light toward your monitors.

lace your lamp in the middle of two monitors.
Place your lamp in the middle of two monitors.

You’ll want to place your swing arm desk lamp next to your monitor with the beam pointed towards your work area on the desk. The photo above gives a good representation of where to place the lamp.

Should the Light Source Be in Front or Behind My Computer?

Both in front and behind can be a problem for your computer screen.

Bright light in front of your monitors can shine directly in your eyes and create glare, shadows, and contrast issues. Although, if not too bright, a natural light source from a window in front of you can be nice, plus a lovely view can help with your daily mood.

In reverse, a light behind you can create glare shining directly on the screen, making it hard to see.

A mix of natural and artificial light sources is best at workspace.
A mix of natural and artificial light sources is best.

It is recommended that the light source is from a mixture of natural lighting, overhead lights, and a lamp located next to the monitors or screen. By doing this, you will create even lighting in your workspace.

If you need help deciding which lamps will work best for your office or work area, then check out these helpful guides we’ve created:

KRX Small Led Desk Lamp - No Blu-ray Led Reading Light for Home Office
KRX Small Led Desk Lamp – Reading Light for Home Office

Desk Lamp Placement: Frequently Asked Questions

How Tall Should My Desk Lamp Be?

Different desk lamp positions - proper position of a task lamp.
Proper position of a task lamp.

We can’t say the exact height the lamp should be as there are many factors that would influence this, such as lamp type, table height, what you need the light for, etc.

However, it is advised that the light is above your head yet out of your line of sight. If it is too low, it may shine in your eyes and not cover the area, while too high could create unpleasant shadows.

What Side Should My Desk Lamp Be On?

If you are right-handed place the lamp in the left side and vise versa.
If you are right-handed place the lamp on the left side and vice versa.

The primary deciding factor for which side the lamp should be on is if you are right-handed versus left-handed.

If you are right-handed, place the lamp on the left side, and if you are left-handed, place the lamp on your right side. This will reduce shadows that could impede your workflow.

Where Should I Place My Desk Lamp To Avoid Shadows?

Follow the left-hand, right-hand rule and use overhead light to fill out the lighting in the room.

What Is the Most Ergonomic Position for My Desk Lamp?

Infographic of the proper distance of the light source to a desk.
The proper distance of the light source to a desk.

The rule of thumb for a task lamp is to measure 15 inches from the lampshade to your desk’s surface; this will create the ideal lighting for reading, writing, or typing.

How Should I Angle My Desk Lamp?

Ideal angle of your desk lamp for work.
The ideal angle of your desk lamp for work.

A 30° angle is usually the sweet spot for lamps on a desk for reducing glare and keeping it out of your line of sight, creating bothersome hotspots in your vision.

General Tips for Lighting up Your Home

Interior decor with lamps in the mix and match the style.
Interior decor with lamps in the mix and match the style.

Now that we have created the perfect lighting for your desk let’s move on to some general tips for your overall home lighting.

Tip #1. Choose Quality

Quality lighting is just as important as placement. Avoid using fluorescent lighting where possible and any other light sources that can create headaches and an unsightly ambiance. Most people prefer soft lighting around their homes as it creates a cozy atmosphere. While in your kitchens and office, choose light fixtures, lamps, and bulbs that will illuminate your workspace so you can cook and work more efficiently.

Tip #2. Consider Your Existing Lighting

If you are not happy with your home’s current lighting situation, consider changing out some of your light fixtures or adding some lamps to create a more pleasant ambiance.

Tip #3. Select the Best Light Color for the Situation

The lighting in your home doesn’t have to just be white light; you can also choose to have different colored lights. Various light bulb colors can help you create the perfect mood, from warm and welcoming fuschia to a funky green.

Tip #4. Consider Energy Efficient Lighting

While choosing your light bulb or lamp, consider the abundance of options for energy-efficient lighting such as LED or halogen. Why not make your house look good while being good to the planet? Plus, you could even save a bit of extra cash in the long run.

Tip#5. Consider a Floor Lamp for Added Lighting

Sometimes overhead lighting and desk lamps just don’t cut it when it comes to creating the perfect ambiance. An easy solution is to add floor lamps to your home decor that will not only add to your home design but also create your ideal lighting.

Quick Summary

With these common questions about where to place desk lamps answered, you’ll now be able to work or read effectively while keeping your eyes healthy.

Again, no one wants to deal with poor lighting, glare, or shadows when sitting down at their desk to get productive.

So, whether you’ve already picked out your perfect desk lamp or are on the hunt, use these tips to get the placement just right.

If you still have some pertinent questions about desk lamps or another lighting, check out our desk lamp guide.