The inexpensive red light devices I use
But before the main course, here's a delicious appetizer made of disclaimers:
- Does red light therapy sound like something you'd see listed on the crumpled business card of that weird Breatharian guy in your yoga class? Yes. Do many proponents wildly overstate the benefits? Yes. Are skeptics skeptical? Yes. Is it clear that certain types of light do something to cells? Yes!
- I am a complete hack at properly setting up red light treatments. To decide how to properly set up a treatment session, you'll have to read actually-knowledgeable people, such as:
- Resonant FM is the fastest-growing source of information, with in-depth articles and podcasts.
- Vladimir Heiskanen on Valtsu's. His posts on any subject are valuable, and the light therapy ones are particularly educational. He's got hundreds of references, which is especially useful if you're looking for more information on treating a particular issue. Make sure to bug him into setting up a Patreon so that everyone can support his hard work financially.
- Joe Cohen on Selfhacked. You know it's an eclectic site when wearing a helmet with ice in it isn't the strangest subject.
- Scott Roberts on heelspurs.com. This page has a lot of practical info, and I found two of the devices below based on his clever approach of searching for 850nm security lighting.
- If you know your way around basic electrical work, you can beat the LED device prices by purchasing panels directly and handling the power, mounting, and wiring yourself. Alibaba.com and Aliexpress.com can be particularly useful for finding low-cost panels shipped directly from China.
Incandescents for general purpose, whole body, feel-good lighting
I use an approach mentioned by Ray Peat, with high-wattage incandescent lights as "personal lighting" in places where you'll be generally stationary, like desks or couches. Using 130V bulbs run on 120V North American household electricity shifts them more in the direction of the red part of the spectrum, and using brooder enclosures lets you safely run high-wattage lights angled directly towards your body.
I now order my bulbs online because they've become difficult to find locally. I specifically use:
|PLT 200PS30 from 1000bulbs.com. You can get six (with shipping) for around $30.|
If you plan to use it near your face or around children or pets: These bulbs get very hot, and I had one shatter violently when it was hit with a tiny spritz of juice from an orange. So for any use where hot shards of glass would be more than inconvenient, I'd suggest the shatter-resistent version (thanks to Adam Capriola for finding this!).
If you look to purchase bulbs elsewhere, I'd suggest making sure they're:
- Clear/uncoated, except for silicone shatter-resistence coatings.
- High-wattage. I tend to feel better in very bright light, around 600 watts total. You can substitute a higher numbers of lower-wattage bulbs for the same effect, but this can be more expensive and cumbersome.
- 130V. This isn't essential, but appears to produce more of the beneficial parts of the spectrum, and also makes the bulbs last longer.
- "Medium base" listed in the description. This means it fits in normal sockets. It may also be referred to as an E26/E27 or "standard" base.
- Any shape code. These are the codes starting with "A" or "PS" followed by a number. They just describe the size and shape of the glass part of the bulb, so as long as the bulb's shape looks like it will have plenty of airflow in your fixture, any code is fine.
The actual fixtures you put the bulbs in are not important, as long as they are rated for the wattage of the bulbs you are using. Most household fixtures will be a fire hazard when used with high wattage bulbs, both because of heat buildup and the amount of power drawn.
I use chicken brooder fixtures because they're inexpensive, easy to "point," and let me pretend I'm a farm animal. These are often available at big box hardware stores like Lowe's or Home Depot, and are typically $10-$20. If you're an Amazon nut like me, I'd suggest this one:
|Bayco SL-302B3. It's rated for up to 300 watts, and is currently $11. Or $176 if you buy their home installation service, which suggests I need a career in brooder lamp installation.|
Here's a few ideas on arranging them:
Photography light stands
These can be more expensive, but are very portable and flexible, and look less like something MacGyver would make. Here's an example that some people have been using (thanks Marco!):
|Impact Floodlight Kit (currently $122 for two)|
Large LED fixture for treating specific injuries or inflammation
I order these off of Amazon:
|Aweek 96 LEDs IR Illuminator (currently $35)|
Depending on where you buy the illuminator, it may not come with a power adapter. You can probably save some money here with less-expensive options, but I go with a higher-amp, regulated power adapter in an attempt to prolong the life of both the adapter and the device:
|OMNIHIL 12V 2A Power Adapter (currently $12)|
Resonant FM tested a nearly-identical device at around 45mW/cm2 from the outside of the frame (typical of how you'd use it if it was resting on your body). That will drop off significantly at a distance.
Small LED fixture for smaller targets like thyroid, teeth
I order these off of Amazon:
|48 LEDs IR Illuminator (currently $12)|
Depending on where you buy the illuminator, it may not come with a power adapter. I buy this one, it's both adequate amperage and regulated:
|VideoSecu 12V 1A Power Adapter (currently $7)|
Resonant FM tested what is likely the same device at around 100-140mW/cm2 from the outside of the frame (typical of how you'd use it if it was resting on your body). That will drop off significantly at a distance.
Laser box for "skin-deep" issues (acne, wrinkles, thinning hair, scar tissue)
I'm reluctant to include this device because it's fairly expensive (around $110), and I suspect the above devices may work for the same purposes. However, it more-closely matches the devices used in many studies, and it's easier to work with in size and shape compared to the security lighting devices.
If you decide to try it, I'd suggest getting it off eBay, and not taking the infomercial-esque "baldness cure" marketing too seriously:
|LaserGain on eBay.|
Products outside the US
- Red Light Man has powerful devices in the £160 range.
- Resonant FM has incandescent and LED buyer's guides.
- Chris has several suggestions on Reddit.
- There's some sources mentioned in this forum thread.
- This forum thread has some German product discussion.
If you find good product options in your country, please let me know in the comments.