Lighting technology has changed a lot over the years.
With the advancements in lighting technology, these are some of changes I’ve noticed in task lighting in the past two decades:
LED task lights have vastly improved in color spectrum and in brightness (kelvins and lumens), making it less necessary to invest in bulbed task lights that require expensive replacements, that are heavier to move, and that generate heat.
The structure of task lights has changed significantly. They are lighter. They have better diffusion screens. Good quality task lights are made out of better materials for longer lasting use, and for better flexibility on the shafts and heads.
Cordless technology has significantly improved, allowing for longer-lasting battery-operated lights that don’t dim as as their life-juice drains. (This is a game changer for those who travel with lighting or who attend workshops and the like.)
As lighting technology has improved, I’ve shifted task lights over the years, and in recent years, I’ve begun investing in one type of light in particular – Stella lights – that I pretty much use exclusively for all my task lighting here at Needle ‘n Thread and at home.
Years ago, when Stella Lighting started making headway in the craft and task light market, I reviewed them. When their second and improved light came out – the Stella Two – I reviewed them again. I liked them then, but I like them better now.
I want to make it clear that there’s no affiliation with Stella Lighting for this review. I intended at first to carry their lights in my shop and have them drop-shipped to those of you who would be interested in them. But there are several reasons why I’m not doing that, at least at this time. Since I know many of you have been asking about lights lately, I’m going to talk about the lights here and refer you straight to Stella Lighting’s website if you want to look at them further.
Keep in mind, too, that I’m tell you about lights that are working well for me. I’ve done a lot of research, I’ve gone through a lot of trial and error with other lights, I’ve invested much time, money, and energy in finding lights and testing them. Some I’ve used for years. Others didn’t last months. So I have had a little bit of experience with task lights – from expensive to cheap, from widely-known brands to obscure no-name lights, across the whole spectrum of bulbs, halogen to LED to incandescent to florescent… I have tried a lot of lights over the years.
But this does not mean that what I like in lighting will be what you like in lighting. I’m only putting these lights out there as a possibility for you, if you’re looking for good task lights. I can only share with you my experiences and what I like and don’t like about them. You should still do your own research. Weigh and consider. Good lights are an investment, so you need to determine for yourself where and how you will invest your own money in your own lighting.
Stella Two and Stella Go
I’m writing here especially about the Stella Two and the Stella Go – and mostly about the Stella Go, since I’ve already reviewed the Stella Two. Everything about the Stella Two also applies to the Stella Two Sky, which is the floor lamp.
The color temperature on the lights range from 2800K (when set on “warm”) to 4000 (“natural” – a combination of the warm and cool bulbs), to 5500K (cool white), with the lumens registering up to 1400. I normally use the “natural” setting, which gives the best light overall for working.
The lights have ten degrees of dimmability, and you can easily switch between warm (yellower lights), cool white, and natural (combination of yellow and cool white).
The lighting is excellent for working underneath – it is high contrast light produced by state-of-the-art LEDs, rated for 50,000 hours of use. There are no bulbs to change. The light does not give off heat, so it’s comfortable to work under even in warm environments.
The lights have a somewhat flexible head and neck so that you can tilt the light head in various directions around its axis (though not 180-degrees). The neck can be bent downwards or straightened out so that the head extends straight up. The downward-bending neck makes the desk lamps (the Go and the Two) very compact for easy portability in their storage boxes.
On the Stella Go, the power and control buttons are raised, backlit, a bit rubbery, and easy to feel and see. They are still “touch buttons” (they don’t press and click mechanically), but they have a very tactile feel.
On the Stella Two, the buttons are are not as prominent – they are “touch” buttons that are a little more “sleek” on the from of the light base, but they are slightly raised. While they are tactile, they’re as tactile as the Go buttons.
The control buttons on the Sky (floor lamp) are located on a corded remote that attaches to the Sky and that can be stretched to nearby locations so that you can control the floor lamp without having to reach about for it. The buttons are mechanical push buttons.
The table lights are not huge and they don’t have a long extended arm or head. This is normal for task lights. It is assumed that you are working right under the light, because that’s how task lights are meant to work.
However, they give off a good amount of light, so you don’t always have to be immediately under it to benefit from the light. Sometimes, if I don’t want the brightness right over my work, I will swing the light slightly away from my immediate work area (or I will dim the light).
I haven’t used any task light on the market that has LED bulbs this bright. I’m not sure there is one. I think these are possibly the brightest LED task lights on the market.
I see much more clearly underneath this light than I do under any other task lights I have, including non-LED task lights. The contrast under the light is very sharp.
Let’s Talk Power
The Stella Go is a rechargeable cordless light. It charges via a Qi charging pad that comes with it. This means that you can situate your charging pad anywhere, and when you need your light, you grab it off the pad and take it to your work spot. The Qi charging pad has a USB port on it, so that you can also use the base to charge phones, etc. If your phone can charge via Qi technology, you can also place your phone on the pad to charge, when your light is elsewhere.
According to the manufacturer, the light battery lasts up to 11 hours on the warm setting at 50% brightness.
I tested and tracked battery time over the first few months I used the light (I’ve been using it about 1.5 years now). The manufacturer’s claim is true – at about 50% on warm, the battery lasted about 10 hours and 45 minutes to 11 hours every time.
At my ideal setting for stitching – which is “natural” (combination of warm and white) set at 90 – 100%, the battery lasts between four and five hours. This spread depends how long my uninterrupted stretches of work are, whether I’m turning the light off and on frequently or just working in one long stretch of time.
The 4 – 5 hour time frame works fine for me in the studio. The charging pad for the Go is kept on a shelf so that it doesn’t take up table room. When I want the light, I just take the light to the table. When I break for lunch or for anything else, I set it back on its charging pad. It never runs out of juice for me, unless I (very rarely) inadvertently don’t charge it for a couple days between uses. If I am using it at work and it is low on juice, I can bring the charging pad to the table if I want (plugged into the wall) and still use the light while it’s charging on the base.
What I love about the charging feature on this light is this:
The light does not dim as the battery runs down!
Most rechargeable task lights I’ve tested – in fact, all of them – share the common feature of dimming lights as the battery runs out. In fact, some start their dimming journey as soon as they’re finished charging and they’re turned on.
In cases like this, I would often end up working under a dimmer and dimmer light without actually realizing it, become more frustrated along the way because I wasn’t seeing as well. And then I would realize that the light was much dimmer than it should have been.
The Stello Go doesn’t work this way. There are green lit arrows on the front of the light’s base that indicate the current battery level. The light itself remains bright and steady until the battery is depleted – at which point, it turns off.
I appreciate this feature greatly! A light that slowly and imperceptibly dims while in use is frustrating. The Stella Go stays bright until the juice runs out. And I can easily see when that is going to happen, thanks to the green indicator lights on the front of the base.
Pros and Cons
There are pros and cons to these lights, as there are with practically everything in the world.
This is how I see them. Please read all the way through to the general comments below, too.
Stella Two Table Lamp
Pros: The light is excellent for working under. I love the high contrast LEDs, and I like to work with the “natural” setting with the light set on 90-100%. I like the fact that it has a good range of dimmability. When the light is turned off, it remembers the previous setting so you don’t have to re-set it each time. The cord is a decent length. The lamp is light and easily portable, yet still heavy enough to stand well on its base. It folds down to fit into its box, which can be used as a carrying case.
Cons: It is expensive, clocking in at $249. The buttons on the front, while somewhat tactile, are not as prominent as they could be. Because they are touch buttons, inadvertently brushing over them with your hand while you’re working can turn the light off or accidentally change the settings. In the past, when working at a table with a task lamp, I’ve always worked with my light to the left of me. Now, I place the lamp in front of me, with the head coming straight towards me. This helps me avoid bumping the buttons on the base accidentally.
Stella Two Sky
Pros: See the pros for Stella Two, concerning the lighting. It is excellent. Aside from using it in the studio, my dad (92, with macular degeneration and poor vision) uses the same lamp at home to read under. It works well for him. He can adjust the head to tilt in different direction for his maximum comfort, and the whole lamp is light enough that he can shift it if he needs to, but it is heavy enough that it stands sturdily. The corded “remote” feature for control can be handy.
Cons: It is expensive, clocking in at $439. It is not adjustable height-wise. While you can bend the head down somewhat, it would be nice if you could actually lower the height of the lamp, especially if you’re sitting in a lower chair or on a couch and you wanted the “intimacy” of a task light. That said, the distance doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of the light.
Pros: For a cordless, rechargeable light, it’s the best one I’ve ever seen or used. It is pretty fabulous! The lighting is excellent – same as the Stella Two – and the longevity of the battery at full power and brightest settings is pretty darned impressive. I like the fact that the light doesn’t fade over time and that the battery indicators keep you very aware of your battery juice levels. The buttons are very tactile and easy to see. It’s easily transportable in its carrying box (that it comes in). The charging pad works great for charing the light and for charging other electronics. I love this light in so, so many ways.
Cons: It’s expensive, clocking in at $349 for the light and the charging pad. While I greatly appreciate the green battery indicator lights, you can’t make them go away, which limits where you might keep this lamp and its charging base. I wouldn’t keep it in my bedroom, for example, because I wouldn’t want the green indicator lights shining through my room at night.
Customer Service Means a Lot!
As you can see, the Stella lights are not inexpensive. They’re definitely an investment. I think they’re worth saving for.
Along with the price tag, besides a really good light, is really good customer service – which is almost unheard of in the task-lighting industry. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried contacting lighting manufacturers over the years when I’ve had problems with their lights.
Stella Lighting has phenomenal customer service, which is based here in the States, at their business. The people you talk to actually know about the lights! They can talk to you coherently about them, without reading from a script. And if you have questions or need to troubleshoot anything, they will help you out. They stand behind their products! I have used their customer service several times, and have always come away happy.
They have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you don’t like the light, you can send it back (see their policies before purchasing, so you know exactly what to expect). And they have 2-year warranties on the lights in general (again, read the warranty policies, so you know what to expect).
Eventually, I plan to invest in a few more Stellas: I plan to add one more Stella Two Sky, two more Stella Two table lamps, and another Stella Go to the studio, so that every work area has its own good light. We’ll also be able to use them for classes, since they are super easy to shift around as we need them.
But it’ll be a while! I’m budgeting for them now, to work them in over the next two years.
I’ve tried my share of task lights in the past thirty years. And I certainly have my share of vision problems. For me, Stella lights are definitely worth the investment. They’ve made a huge difference for me!
If you want to find out more about them and if you’re interested in purchasing them, check out Stella Lighting’s website here. Especially with the holidays coming up, you might keep an eye on their website or sign up for their emails, in case they have any sales around Thanksgiving.
And that pretty much sums up what I think of them!