Luxo L-1 Task Light


Best task light

I’ve been using cheapo knock-off task lights for way too long. You know, the kind with the two (upper & lower) spring-tensioned arms to hold a light over my work area. These kinds of lights really do a great job of getting the light exactly where I need it for any sort of thing I’m doing, however I’m frequently frustrated by the somewhat flimsy construction of these knockoffs.

I’ve been hoping to get my hands on the original, the Luxo L-1, for quite a while. I’ve gotten two of them now. The original was created in 1937 and the L-1 is still the pinnacle of these kinds of lamps, as far as I can tell. The first one I picked up (I want to use the word “acquired”) looks to me to be quite old, at least 30 years or more (Union-made in the USA). The shade’s got some dings and the paint’s missing in a few places but it’s rock solid.

Primary differences:

1. On my cheapos, the arm length is 15″, and the Luxos are 18″. While this doesn’t sound significant, it is – the light can get higher, or it can cover a larger work area, or both. If you’re trying to get one to fit under a cabinet, keep that in mind, too.

2. The good L-1s have three beams in their lower half. I don’t know if Luxo themselves make a two-beam lower half model, but the knockoff people sure don’t hesitate. I’ve found that this three-beam construction is far more solid and contributes to the silky feel of these lamps.

3. The shade of the Luxos in integral to the whole head; cheapos make two (rattle-y) pieces.

4. Knock-off lamps invariably seem to come with crappy plastic clamp bases. Luxo, predictably, does not fool around with such junk. This is enough right there to go Luxo, but I’ve added much better metal clamp bases to my cheapo lamps, too, so that does help.

You can buy brand-new all sorts of task lights from Luxo, magnifiers, LEDs – check out their web page. They’re covering a lot of bases with their line. Amazon sells various bases (desk-edge clamps, solid/heavy movable, wall-mount) as well as replacement 12′ lamp cords (the 12′ cords are good because the arms are so long) so older/used L-1 lamps can be easily fixed up if necessary. I put Phillips Slimstyle LED bulbs in my two Luxo lamps – these are very light (no heavy heat sink) and also kick light toward the base like incandescent bulbs, so more of the reflector can diffuse the light just like the incandescents but without the heat & inefficiencies. So, I’m a happy guy at my workspace now. And I have two old lamps that can be considered something that I can bestow to the next generation and beyond.

-- Wayne Ruffner 07/7/17