A wake-up light is a great way to make getting up in the morning an easier and more pleasant experience.
If you’re not a fan of loud alarms, or you struggle to get up when it’s still dark outside, waking up with light gently filling the room can help you start the day on a more positive note.
In this review, I’ll be looking at some popular wake-up lights made by Philips, Lumie and HeimVision.
Hopefully, you’ll find one which shines just enough light to help you get up on the right side of the bed and face the day with a smile.
1. Philips HF3520
Excellent sunrise simulation
Philips make a wide range of wake-up lights, with the HF3520 being their most advanced model to date.
It has a stylish, sturdy design and high-quality light settings, with graduated fading and a range of different hues. When it comes to sunrise simulation, it provides the most realistic transition of lighting that I’ve seen in wake-up lights.
It’s common for them to offer just a few shades of white which jump noticeably in brightness. But the Philips starts with a deep red, cycling through shades of orange and yellow, before finishing with a warm white.
- It has a stylish design that looks good on a bedside table.
- The sunrise simulator cycles from red to orange to white with 20 incremental brightness levels.
- The maximum brightness of 300 lux should ensure you wake up in the morning.
- You can select the maximum brightness reached, and adjust how long before your chosen alarm time the sunrise effect begins.
- There’s an option of either just light, or light and sound as an alarm.
- You can have a different weekday and weekend alarm.
- There’s a choice of an FM radio or 5 nature sounds, such as birdsong or ocean, to fall asleep or wake up to.
- There’s an easy to use snooze option – just touch anywhere on the face and snooze away.
- It can be used as a bedside lamp, and also as a sunset simulator at bedtime.
- The buttons on the top aren’t visible from the front, and are quite small. So you either need to look carefully when changing settings or turning the audio alarm off, or learn by touch where they are.
- One of the more expensive models available.
The Philips HF3520 gets the lighting part spot on. The sunrise simulator is excellent and will improve your chances of waking up peacefully.
It’s a shame that the buttons are somewhat tricky to use, but at the same time it does look slick with the buttons tucked neatly away. And this isn’t a device for those on a budget (see below for more affordable options).
But if you’re looking for the smoothest and most convincing sunlight simulator, and you can put up with some fiddly buttons, the Philips is my recommended wake-up light.
An affordable wake-up light with smart home compatibility
The more affordable HeimVision offers many features that premium wake-up lights do. It even has a few tricks up its sleeve that bigger brands don’t always offer, such as being able to control it with smart home voice assistants.
I like the starting deep red light it turns on with in the morning, and the transition to a brighter white is surprisingly good for the price.
And if light alone isn’t enough to tempt you out of your morning snooze, there are several sounds and an inbuilt radio you can enlist to help you wake up.
- It has a nice gradual transition from deep red to white.
- There are seven optional sounds to wake you up, such as birds, ocean, beep or FM radio.
- It has an accompanying smartphone App that gives you remote control, and more options to adjust the light.
- You can set the light intensity in advance on the App. Option to set four different alarm times.
- There’s an easy to find snooze button.
- Functions as a night light, with adjustable brightness and colors.
- The buttons make a loud clicking noise when you press them.
- The speaker quality isn’t very impressive, and the nature sounds are on relatively short loops.
- It can be tricky to sync with Google or Alexa.
Wake-up lights have a reputation for being quite expensive on the whole. They also don’t always even do the light part particularly well, or have sounds that wake you up purely by being annoying rather than relaxing.
The HeimVision isn’t perfect either, but it does at least offer pretty good light quality and gradual brightening, and at a much lower cost than major players like Philips and Lumie.
3. Philips HF3506
Good mid-range option with easy controls, 10 light settings and 3 alarms
There are several versions in the Philips HF3000 series, with often quite subtle differences between them. There are differences though, with the 3506 making some key improvements, such as extra buttons on the front which improves the usability considerably.
Unlike the larger 3520, these smaller models have the physical shape which is so often copied nowadays – the circular face with a fixed prop to keep it upright.
Although it doesn’t have the same range of features and light options as the 3520, the 3506 does solve one or two problems even that more expensive model has – namely the accessibility of the buttons and controls.
- It has a minimalist, contemporary design and is very easy to use.
- There are 10 brightness settings, with the maximum being bright enough to help you wake up.
- You can set how long the gradual sunrise takes – starting up to 30 minutes before the final brightness is reached or audio alarm.
- You can choose the maximum brightness reached.
- There’s a choice of 2 different bird sounds or radio as the final alarm. Or you can turn down the volume and only wake up with light.
- The bird sounds will increase in volume over 90 seconds to the maximum volume you set.
- You can snooze for 9 minutes with a simple tap of the top.
- The digital display has 4 brightness options.
- You can use it as a bedside lamp, choosing 1 of the 10 brightness settings.
- It has easy to use touch-sensitive controls, conveniently placed on the front.
- It’s fairly light, so even though it has anti-slip rubber feet, it might move around on the bedside table if you push the buttons hard.
- You have to reset the alarm every day.
- No battery back-up, so if you unplug it or lose power, it will lose its settings.
- You can dim the display, but not turn it off completely.
The Philips HF3506 is a good mid-range option, with a decent number of adjustable brightness settings, an easy control system and a few choices of alarm sounds.
It doesn’t have the same quality of sunset simulation as the high-end models, but it should still do the job of helping you wake up slowly and more happily than a sudden alarm.
It can be confusing working out the differences between the models, with some small differences between the 3500, 3505, 3506 and 3606.
So my advice would be to look carefully before buying as you might find you only have 1 alarm instead of 3, less buttons or a black case instead of silver.
Of that particular series though, I think the HF3506 is the best so far in terms of features, design and usability.
4. Lumie bodyclock active 250
Wide range of light and sound features with longer timers
Based in the UK, Lumie specializes in medical-grade light therapy devices. The 250 not only focuses on waking, but on the going to sleep part too. Along with a slow sunset simulator, it has white noise or ocean sounds to help you sleep.
The light quality is what really stands out though. For me, the slow fade is excellent and the warmth of the light projected is what really matters at the end ,or start, of the day.
- The sunset and sunrise have 6 different timer settings from 15 to 90 minutes – a wider range than the other models.
- The light fading is slow, subtle and ranges from a warm dim glow through to a very bright light, which should wake you up feeling relaxed.
- It has a choice of alarm sounds including FM radio, beeping and 2 nature sounds.
- You can listen to white noise or wave sounds at night to help you sleep.
- It can be used as a nightlight for reading, with a choice of brightness or a slow fade.
- It has a security nightlight feature.
- The display turns off when the alarm is set, or can be faded with a simple button combination.
- It has a snooze feature.
- A battery back-up means the settings are kept if it loses power.
- The instructions and button combinations can be complicated until you get used to them.
- It only has a 24 hour clock on the digital display.
- The recorded sounds are on a very short loop.
- You have to set the alarm every day.
Personally, I’m not sure all the features of the Lumie bodyclock active 250 are really worth the extra cost. My feeling is that as with most wake-up lights, it does the light part very well, but comes up short in the sound department.
While the design is quite cute, I still think it’s less appealing than the Philips. But if you like your technology to have as many features as possible, and you want a choice of backup audio alarms, it’s worth considering.