How to Choose a Red Light Therapy Device? (7 Key Features)

How to Choose a Red Light Therapy Device?

Start your search for light therapy devices here. This guide covers exactly what to look for in a red light therapy device.

With red light therapy exploding in popularity, consumers are facing a flood of light therapy devices on the market. It’s becoming trickier than ever to find the right one.

How can you choose a red light therapy device that’s high quality and support you and your client’s wellness?

Start by comparing these two outputs. The effectiveness of red light therapy (RLT) therapy depends on:

  • Irradiance – The power of the light the device produces.
  • Wavelength – The red and near-infrared wavelengths of light the device produces.

These features – along with the device’s distance to the body – greatly affect performance. A device that produces the wrong wavelengths of red light or low-power light, for example, may not deliver real wellness results.

We cover irradiance and wavelength in this guide, along with 5 other essential features to look for in an RLT device. Keep reading to learn how to choose a red light therapy device that can help you reach your wellness goals.

Not All Red Light Is the Same

The best red light therapy devices offer high-quality light. This isn’t just a red-colored bulb in a lamp.

The light from an RLT device has the right power density and wavelength(s).

Here’s a breakdown of these two important factors:

1. Irradiance

Irradiance, as it relates to red light therapy, refers to the intensity of the light delivered to the skin or target tissue.

Imagine a red light device is like a shower head spraying light particles. Irradiance is a measure of how much light energy hits a specific area over a set time.

In other words, if you want to measure dosage, the output of the “shower head,” its irradiance so to speak, matters a lot.

Why Is Irradiance Important?

A RLT device’s irradiance directly impacts the effectiveness of treatment. It is especially important if your goal is to treat deeper tissues.

Here’s how:

  • Higher irradiance – Delivers more light energy per second, which may reduce treatment time. Higher irradiance levels may be beneficial for deeper tissue treatments, e.g., addressing muscle or joint pain.
  • Lower irradiance – Less light energy per second, which may increase treatment time. Lower irradiance levels may be more effective for skin treatments.

Choose a red light device with irradiance levels between 25 mW/cm² and 120 mW/cm². Levels within this range are generally considered safe for most red light therapy applications.

However, also note that irradiance can change, depending on your distance to the device. The closer you are, the higher the irradiance. (Just think about it like you’re standing closer to the shower head.)

Irradiance and Dosage

Proper dosage for red light therapy treatments can be calculated with irradiance.

Dosage (expressed in Joules/cm2) is the irradiance multiplied by the treatment time. Therefore, our red light therapy bed, which delivers a variable irradiance of 34 to 100 mW/cm2, provides a dose of roughly 20-50 J/cm2 per 10-minute session.

When determining dosage, consult with a medical professional for guidance and safe use suggestions. According to some research, dosage ranges for surface-level injuries (about 1 to 10 J/cm2), while deeper treatments require 10-50 J/cm2.

2. Wavelength

Wavelength is just as important as irradiance. Generally, red light therapy devices deliver one or more wavelengths of red or near infrared light.

All of Hue Light USA’s red light devices, for example, provide a range of red and NIR wavelengths (from about 660 to 850 nm). Plus, our best-in-class photobiomodulation bed also delivers green light, which benefits the skin.

In general, look for a red light device that offers a range of visible red wavelengths (630-680 nm), as well as infrared light (800-830 nm), which studies show are the most beneficial.

Why Wavelength Is Important?

Wavelength affects the penetration depth of the light.

Research suggests visible wavelengths (around 660 nm) don’t penetrate as deeply as NIR light, and these visible wavelengths are typically recommended for treating the skin. For deep tissues, like sore muscles or joints, near-infrared light is ideal. Some studies suggest NIR light can reach up to 10 mm in depth.

Irradiance and wavelength, ultimately, go hand-in-hand. NIR light with a stronger intensity (irradiance) has the potential to reach the deeper layers more effectively.

How to Choose a Red Light Therapy Device: More Features

In addition to irradiance and wavelength, you’ll also want to compare red light devices on these factors:

3. Light Pulsing (Optional)

Pulsing light in red light therapy devices has become a growing trend. For example, all of Hue Light USA red light therapy devices include pulsed light settings (based on the Nogier frequencies), as well as continuous settings.

Why choose a red light device with pulsed light?

Although research is ongoing, some studies suggest red light therapy with pulsing helps to:

1. Reduce Tissue Heating

Continuous red light devices heat up the tissue steadily during treatment. With pulsed light, however, the tissue has a chance to “cool off” in the fractions of a second the light turns off between pulses.

This could allow for higher overall irradiance levels without exceeding safe temperature limits. As a result, a pulsed light device might help to deliver a higher total dose in a shorter amount of time.

2. Brainwave Entrainment

Some studies suggest pulsing red or near-infrared light might promote relaxation and improve cognitive function. This is due to a process called entrainment. In theory, your brainwaves synchronize with the pulsing light rhythm, which may help to promote relaxation.

3. Improved Cellular Response

This is the big one. Early research suggests that pulsed light may influence the cells differently than continuous light. Some researchers theorize that pulsed light may improve wound healing or post-stroke care; however, in other cases, continuous light outperforms pulsed light (e.g., for nerve regeneration).

4. Number of LEDs

Compare red light devices based on their number of LEDs. More LEDs provide better coverage and even distribution of light.

Although there’s not a specific amount to look for, here are some estimates:

  • Facial panels typically have about 3000-4000 LEDs, while smaller devices might have 200-500.
  • The Abdomen PBM Irradiator, our RLT pad, is equipped with 544 LEDs, for example.
  • Full-body devices typically have more than 25,000.
  • Our red light bed, for example, has 38,800 premium LEDs, while our full-body RLT panel has 21,000.

5. Treatment Area

Choose a light therapy device that targets a specific area. For example:

  • RLT panels and beds are suitable for larger areas like the back or legs.
  • A red light pad offers coverage for specific areas like the stomach or chest.
  • Masks and wands offer targeted RLT for the face or smaller areas.

Also, the device should offer comfort. Avoid a device that you’ll need to hold very close to your body for long periods of time to receive the desired irradiance.


This is true especially for clinics: Think about the portability and durability of the device. For example, a red light therapy bed can be great for full-body treatments; however, it’s not portable.

For a clinic that needs portability, a panel (which can be rolled to hang over a massage table) offers a better solution.

6. Safety Certifications

The most reputable red light devices have been FDA registered. This indicates the company values safety, and that the device may have been tested for safety. Cheap red light therapy devices may not be properly safety tested.

7. Warranty Coverage / Quality

Quality devices tend to have extended warranty coverage. The company stands behind the product and may even offer support to address user problems.

For example, all Hue Light USA red light therapy devices have:

  • Whole-Body PBM Chamber – 10-year warranty (LEDs) / 5-year warranty on (shell + components)
  • Full Body PBM Panel – 5-year warranty on components and LEDs
  • Breast or Abdomen PBM – 1-year device warranty

Our full-body systems, for example, have some of the most comprehensive warranties in the industry. Extended warranties are especially useful for clinics and spas, as the devices will be in more frequent use.

Wrapping Up

The effectiveness of red light therapy is very dependent on the quality of the light. A device that puts out low-quality (the wrong wavelengths or low-power light) doesn’t offer the best support for your wellness.

So, remember:

  • Look for red and NIR light (~650-850 nm)
  • A combination of various wavelengths is best
  • And look for a device that provides a suitable irradiance level (about 25-120 mW/cm2.

Focus on those features, you’ll be on your way to choosing a quality RLT device.

Have questions? Contact Hue Light USA to learn more about our best-in-class red light therapy systems.


What are two key factors to consider when choosing a red light therapy device?

The article emphasizes two key factors: irradiance and wavelength. Irradiance refers to the intensity of light delivered, while wavelength refers to the specific colors of light emitted. Both impact the effectiveness of treatment.

What is the ideal irradiance level when choosing a red light therapy device?

The irradiance level of device depends on your treatment concerns. For example, 25 mW/cm² to 120 mW/cm² for irradiance is generally considered safe for surface level conditions. Higher irradiance (over 120 mW/cm2) may be beneficial for deeper tissues.

Why is wavelength important in red light therapy?

Wavelength affects how deeply the light penetrates the body. Visible red wavelengths (around 660nm) are better for skin concerns, while near-infrared light (up to 850nm) can reach deeper tissues like muscles and joints.

Therefore, choose a red light device that offers the wavelengths you need for your desired condition.

What are the potential benefits of pulsed light therapy devices?

While research is ongoing, pulsed light therapy might offer advantages like:

  • Reduced tissue heating during treatment.
  • Improved cellular response for wound healing or pain relief (early research).
  • Brainwave entrainment for promoting relaxation (theory).

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a direct reference to any products offered by Hue Light USA or any specific brand. We do not claim that our products can achieve the effects or benefits discussed in this content. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice or as an endorsement of any specific product or treatment. We encourage readers to conduct their own research and consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions regarding their health or wellness regimen.

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