Last updated: August 5, 2021

Welcome to our large picture light test 2021. Here we present all the picture lights we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best picture light for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to.




Summary

  • A picture light is a wall light or a light attached directly to the picture that provides perfect illumination of a picture. This creates accents in the room and directs the viewer's gaze.
  • There are two different types of picture lights, classified according to the type of power supply. These include power supply via a cable and through a rechargeable battery. Both types have their individual advantages and disadvantages.
  • When buying a picture light, you should pay attention to the material, the colour and intensity of the light and other features.

The Best Picture Light: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a picture light

What should I consider before buying a picture light?

Staging works of art with light requires space. Check beforehand whether there is enough space for your ideas. You should also check whether there are already power outlets or whether new cables need to be laid.

You should also think about the size of the picture, the furnishings and the wall colour beforehand, especially if you decide to install a power supply through cables.

A picture light sets the scene perfectly. Before buying, however, you should think about whether there is enough space for it and whether a power supply is possible. (Image source: donterase / pixabay.com)

How much does a picture light cost?

Picture lights come in all price categories. From simple models for 20 euros to extravagant eye-catchers for several hundred euros. To give you a small overview, here are the results of our research:

Model price
Picture light with rod design approx. 15-950€
Grip-arm-like models approx. 20-850€

We were able to find picture lights in rod design in various materials in a price range from €15 to €950. So far more expensive models can certainly be found as well.

In our research, the grip-arm-like models ranged between 20 and 850 euros. However, as always, there are no upper limits to price and exclusivity in either case. In any case, you should pay attention to customer reviews and test reports and include them in the decision-making process.

In some cases, it may make sense to order several products at the same time. This way, you have the chance to directly compare the different models and determine your own test winner.

Which material is available and which is suitable for me?

Basically, there are several different types of picture lights. In some shops, picture lamps are first categorised according to their material.

  • Picture lights made of chrome
  • Picture lights made of gold
  • Brass picture lights
  • Plastic picture lights

As you will see, picture lights are mainly made of stainless steel. However, models made of plastic can also be used in the interior. In terms of price, the different materials have little in common. In all categories, you will find lower and higher priced models.

However, the material can be decisive for the design of the picture lamp. If you prefer an antique look, for example, brass could be something for you.

If you prefer a simple and modern look, you should take a look at the models made of chrome or plastic.

If you prefer something more extravagant or want to illuminate a very stylish, possibly old picture, you could also consider a gold luminaire.

What light colours are available?

Basically, you can distinguish between three light colours:

  • Warm white
  • Neutral white
  • Cold white

The light colour is determined by the so-called colour temperature. Here, Kelvin is used as the unit.

You will not find coloured picture lights because they distort the colours of the artwork instead of emphasising them. Each light colour has a certain effect and influences the mood in the room.

Light colour Purpose
Warm white Warm white has a particularly cosy and relaxing effect. The eye perceives the light as yellowish to reddish and it is particularly suitable for presenting old paintings.
Neutral white This light is particularly suitable for product presentations or artistic installations. It is striking that red tones can be distinguished particularly well and you can thus make optimal use of the colour with this light. In general, you can also use it in places that require increased visual performance and concentration.
Cold white This colour is rather strenuous for the human eye and should therefore not necessarily be your first choice when presenting images. It is more likely to be used in warehouses or workshops.

The light colour warm white has a particularly cosy and relaxing effect. Physically, it is in the range of 2700-3300 Kelvin. The light has a yellowish to reddish effect and is ideal for presenting old paintings and other works. In current research, the best colour rendering qualities are found here.

Also interesting for the presentation of your paintings is the light colour neutral white or also daylight white. The physical limit for this light colour is in the spectrum up to 5300 Kelvin.

This light colour is mostly used in places that require increased visual performance and concentration. Thus it is used in most cases of product presentation. This light is also wonderfully suitable for artistic installations.

The light colour cold white in the physical colour spectrum of 5000-6500 Kelvin, on the other hand, merely stresses the observer and should probably not be the first choice in the presentation of pictures.

Especially if you want to present a picture with different shades of red, you should opt for this light because it is particularly good at distinguishing between red tones.

Normally, this light colour is used more in areas such as warehouses or workshops because its high blue content prevents the release of melatonin and thus maintains a state of alertness.

Of course, you can also use this light for your picture lighting, but we would advise against it, especially in living rooms.

For a particularly pleasant atmosphere in the room, we recommend a combination of warm white and neutral white light colours. By using neutral white light for accent lighting, you create a pleasant room ambience and set the scene for your pictures in the best possible way.

What kind of light sources are there?

In the meantime, LED luminaires are used in almost every case. If you are interested in an energy-saving and environmentally friendly solution, you should also prefer this solution to the use of a conventional light bulb.

Above all, LED light is perfect for the gentle presentation of works of art. With conventional light sources, UV light or infrared light is usually detectable, which causes works of art to fade and yellow. Furthermore, this type of light source emits significantly less heat to the artwork, thus preserving its shine for longer.

Museums and galleries are now also using LEDs. On the other hand, halogen lamps are said to distort rather than enhance colours.

Did you know that museums and galleries use different luminaires for different exhibits?

In museums, a lot of attention is paid to the lighting of the works of art. They should be optimally staged by the lighting. That is why many different types of luminaires are used.

Decision: What types of picture lights are there and which is the right one for you?

Luminaires can be distinguished according to many different criteria. It is then more difficult to point out clear advantages and disadvantages, which we would like to try to do here in order to help you immediately with at least one criterion.

We have therefore decided to differentiate here according to power supply. There are two types of picture lights:

  • Power supply via cable
  • Powered by a rechargeable battery

Depending on whether there is a socket nearby, a luminaire powered by a rechargeable battery can make sense. A power supply by cable - preferably with an integrated switch - is also a suitable option.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a lamp with a cable?

Logically, you can leave the lamp burning for as long as you need and don't have to worry about an empty battery. You won't be bothered by charging times, replacement batteries or diminishing light output.

Not to be underestimated is also the visual appearance, the look of the overall presentation. Depending on the model, a wired picture light can look very elegant. The colour of the wall, the colour of the cable or even the option of laying the cable completely in the wall or behind a cover all play a role here.

Advantages
  • Permanent power supply
  • No battery that needs to be recharged
  • Once installed, you have an impressive setting for presentation
Disadvantages
  • Low range
  • Possibly need to lay new cables
  • No flexibility
  • High power consumption if no integrated switch

This somewhat more complex installation is one of the disadvantages of a wired picture light. It does not give you much flexibility. In addition, you always have to take into account the length of the cable and, if necessary, look for extension cables.

Also make sure that the lamp has a switch. Otherwise it will consume an unnecessary amount of electricity. Of course, very long use also reduces the life span of the light source used.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a lamp with a rechargeable battery?

Quickly set up and dismantled, this picture light is ideal for quickly changing exhibition locations. Moreover, there is no (visually) disturbing cable that has to be concealed or specially laid. Nor can your electricity bill explode undetected if you forget to switch off the lamp. In the worst case, the battery will simply run out.

Advantages
  • Flexibility
  • Lower power consumption due to conscious, manual control as well as the limited battery life
  • No installation of a power supply necessary
Disadvantages
  • Regular recharging of the battery necessary
  • Possibly awkward removal of the battery
  • Lower light intensity when the battery is almost exhausted

Of course, this also has disadvantages - you have to take care of a spare battery and recharge it in time. Depending on the model, the battery may also be somewhat awkwardly installed, so that changing it would be a bit of a hassle. If you want to present bright light all the time, you also need to keep an eye on the lamp often to detect a weakening power supply early on.

What other picture lights are there?

Another distinction that appeals mainly to aesthetes is that of "design". In principle, you could use any kind of lamp to illuminate your pictures. Picture lights, however, are specially designed to illuminate pictures with a suitable light intensity, light colour and from the right angle.

This special type of luminaire is usually also called a display luminaire, as they are part of the visualisation of the artwork.

In principle, two types of construction are common:

  • The one that resembles a stick and illuminates the picture at close range
  • The one that looks more like an arm and illuminates the picture from a little further away

The decisive factor in choosing the type is the intended type of presentation, the style of the rest of the room and your personal preference or dislike of one of the two types.

The former, rod-like type is probably the more unobtrusive way to illuminate a picture. You should place this lamp above, below or to the side of your picture. For the perfect incidence of light, the lamp is already bent at the right angle. Depending on the material, it can look very elegant and simple.

You can find this type of picture lighting in many museums and galleries. So if you need some inspiration, it's best to visit them. If you use this option, pay attention to the colour of the light and the light intensity to make a good and appropriate decision later.

The second, arm-like type, on the other hand, is the somewhat more conspicuous variant. If lighting and picture are to be presented together as an effective work of art, this type of lamp could be the right one for you.

Picture lights illuminate your artwork with the right intensity, light colour and from the right angle. They come in rod-like and arm-like types. (Image source: PIRO4D / pixabay.com)

Depending on the style and material of the picture light, you can create a modern or antique impression. A picture light made of brass or chrome, for example, can set the scene for your pictures in a stylish way.

These do not necessarily have to be works of art from past eras. Modern art can also be presented with such picture lights.

Perhaps you prefer a stylistic contrast between picture and lamp? Then present a modern picture with an antique-looking lamp or, conversely, an older work with a modern luminaire in a grab-arm design.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate picture lights

In the following, we would like to show you the factors you can use to compare and evaluate picture lights. This will make it easier for you to decide which lamp is suitable for your purposes or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Type of picture light
  • Material
  • Light colour and intensity
  • Other features

In the following approaches, you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Type of picture light

Depending on the room situation, you have the choice between the two typical types described above, below or to the side of the picture, or also the one with a grip-arm-like shape with flexible alignment.

In some cases, a ceiling light or floor lamp might also be advisable. However, the latter is not ideal for displaying your artwork.

While indirect lighting is more common for furniture or other furnishings, direct lighting is actually always recommended for staging pictures.

Material

You should also think about the material of the luminaire. As a rule, you can choose between brass, chrome, gold or plastic.

The material does not necessarily affect the quality of light, but it does affect the style and design of the picture lamp.

Brass picture light

Picture lamps made of brass are probably the classic and also the most popular material. They present the picture stylishly and are an eye-catcher themselves.

They are available in numerous designs and colour shades. In some cases, it can even look as if it were made of pure gold in the right light.

So if you are looking for an elegant and classic solution to picture lighting, a lamp made of brass is definitely the right thing for you.

Picture light made of chrome and plastic

Chrome and plastic are mainly used for modern picture lights. As a rule, they are kept more simple and do not catch the eye as much as a brass lamp.

If you are looking for a simple and inconspicuous picture light that nevertheless puts your picture in the right light, a lamp made of chrome or plastic is definitely the right choice for you.

Gold picture light

Gold picture lighting lamps are perfect if you want to showcase your artwork in style. They are rather daring, but look very impressive, especially with older or even antique paintings and pictures.

So if you want to put these types of paintings in the right light or just make a statement, this type of lamp is probably perfect for you.

Light colour and intensity

As already described in the guide, you have a choice of three different colour tones for your lighting - warm white, neutral white and cool white. Warm white and neutral white or daylight white light sources are always recommended.

Picture lights are also used in museums and, above all, in art galleries - but often on a much larger scale than in a living room or personal studio. (Image source: unsplash.com / luka lojk)

When buying an LED light source, make sure it has sufficient luminous intensity. The colour rendering index should also be CRI>90 for the most perfect and faithful reproduction.

Other features

Of course, you can also pay attention to the weight (especially with battery-operated lamps) or the dimensions. In the latter case, there are not too many differences, especially among luminaires that are similar to rods or arms.

The battery capacity can be an important point for you or also which illuminant you can use. Some luminaires only work with one type, others may be able to handle different light sources.

Any seals or test marks increase confidence in the manufacturer and can make the difference between luminaires that are otherwise of equal quality. An on/off switch is also useful, especially for private individuals who operate their lamps individually and do not switch off all the luminaires at once at the end of the day like in a museum.

Facts worth knowing about luminaires and lamps

What does LED mean and how do they work?

The abbreviation LED stands for light-emitting diode. Unlike conventional light bulbs, an LED does not first generate heat to produce light. An LED converts electricity directly into light through the migration of electrons.

Did you know that the picture light can have a decisive influence on the perception of a picture?

Depending on the light temperature with which the picture is illuminated, the picture has a different effect. The type of lighting, e.g. spot or batten luminaire, also influences the perception of the picture. Especially with sculptural works of art, the lighting plays a decisive role.

We have found a very good and comprehensible explanation of how an LED works on the internet:

A light-emitting diode consists of an anode and a cathode. The current flow between the two poles is provided by a wire, the so-called bonding wire. This is where the necessary energy flows for the desired electroluminescence. A chip sits on the cathode, which is surrounded by a plastic lens that is supposed to protect the chip and distribute the light in the room.

The chip used to generate the light is inserted in a so-called reflector trough, which achieves a good light yield and a high degree of efficiency. The chip is a semiconductor crystal made of two different materials that are doped differently.

This means that there is an excess of positive or negative charge carriers. When current flows, the electrons react and energy is released in the form of photons. The LED lights up.

This happens in a particularly energy-saving way. LEDs also have a particularly long life of 40,000 hours or even more. LED lamps can be purchased in a range of different colours. However, the colour white in its various manifestations is particularly suitable here for staging pictorial works.

Are picture lights dimmable?

Most picture lights are not dimmable. However, you can certainly find models with this function. With some models, however, the light colour can be changed. This can also have a decisive influence on the mood in the room.

Warm white light is probably the closest to the light colour of dimmed light in the spectrum of light colours and conjures up a dignified, relaxing mood.

How do I mount a picture light on the wall?

As a rule, picture lamps are supplied with a bracket for mounting on the wall. All you need is a screwdriver.

It is best to hold the holder in the desired position and mark the points on the wall that you want to use for the screws with a pencil.

Beforehand, you should pre-drill the holes at exactly these points with a drill and provide them with dowels. This will ensure a better and more stable hold for your luminaire later on.

Then simply take the holder of your picture light again, hold the holes provided for the screws directly over those that you have drilled into your wall yourself and fasten the screw in the wall with the screwdriver.

It is best to use a spirit level when attaching the picture light to prevent the lamp from ending up crooked and losing its effective charm.

How do I attach a picture light to the ceiling?

The other way to stage your pictures is to light them with lamps on the ceiling. The process is basically the same as the one just described.

Here, however, you should - especially if you want to connect the lamp to the electricity - switch off the electricity by flipping the appropriate switch in the fuse box or take care not to drill into any power lines in the wall.

This type of lighting should also be supplied with a suitable bracket.

Picture source: Pexels.com / Luxury Furniture Eurooo

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