What do US Special Forces and Olympians have in common?
For one, incredible demands on their body. They also share a technological secret:
NovoTHOR. The world’s strongest whole-body red light therapy device validated by researchers, hospitals, and governments in 500+ human trials and 4,000 lab studies.
Sticker prices of $140,000 per unit.
Whether you call it Red Light Therapy (RLT), photobiomodulation (PBM), or low-level laser therapy (LLLT), strategic light exposure is a hot biohacking trend.
You’ve undoubtedly encountered one brand, Joovv, in YouTube videos, podcasts, or blog articles. They’re the biggest name in consumer red (and infrared) lighting.
But they’re not the only option. For your average person, Joovv is too expensive. Today I’m covering all the best Joovv alternatives, the advantages of each red light therapy device, and which one you should choose. Interested in max value and willing to work? Read to the end for a bonus that explains how to get the cheapest red light panels.
Red Light Therapy Explained
“I think that people generally don’t understand that light is a drug. Just like drugs, light can change the timing and abundance of chemicals in your body, hormones, neurotransmitters — all those sorts of things. That’s exactly what drugs do.”— Travis Longcore
Red light is a healing spectrum of visible light. Ever enjoyed the short period around sunset (“golden hour”)? You’ll noticed that the sunlight takes on a warmer hue. Throughout the day, the sun constantly shifts from predominantly reddish (morning), to blue (afternoon), and back to reddish (evening).
Sunrise and sunset light are sources of natural healing red light (and little blue).
We need all spectrums of light (as I explained in optimal lighting for your home). Today, however, most of us are bombarded by blue light output from virtually all LED light bulbs, screens, and technology. Our “light diet” has become red deficient. With too much blue.
Red light therapy helps balance our light exposure, which makes us stronger, healthier, and more resilient humans.
Humans have two options to bioharmonize our light:
- Reduce overexposure to blue light with gear like blue blocking glasses or technologies like IrisTech (see why I transitioned from f.lux).
- Increase red light by sun-gazing or light therapy.
In other words, RLT is a modern hack that makes light compatible with our bodies. And the easiest way to get more red light?
Through special panels affixed with powerful mini red lights.
Any red light won’t do. Many of the red light therapy products on the market are complete garbage.
- Exaggerated light output (weak)
- High electrosmog output (toxic)
- Damages retina through LED flicker (toxic)
- Poor engineering (ineffective)
Amazon pick aside, each of the panels below have had their light outputs thoroughly compared and benchmarked online.
So, why do people spend hundreds on photobiomodulation devices?
Benefits of RLT
Perhaps “balancing light exposure” isn’t reason enough to begin.
What if I told you that the benefits are so powerful that regulators of competitive sports have considered banning red light therapy?
Light therapy has taken off in popularity. Users have reported stunning effects for over a decade. Now, the research is beginning to explain some of its hardly-believable effects:
- Boosts testosterone production
- Joint pain
- Hair grow
- Enhanced exercise performance
- Greater energy
- Greater stem-cell efficiency
- Increasing energy
- Improving immunity
- Increasing blood circulation
- Slowing aging via reduction in free radicals & oxidative stress
- Weight loss
- Enhances mood
- Fat loss
- Improves eye health
- Fat reduction
- Improves fertility in men and women
- Helps prevent erectile dysfunction
- Healtheir thyroid
- Faster muscle repair
- Better skin repair
- Reduces wrinkles and tightens skin
- Faster wound healing
I personally use it as a pre-workout along with my homemade pre-workout drink and to enhance recovery. Placebo or not, I’ve noticed better workouts.
Why I Didn’t Buy a JOOVV
Joovv is THE name in consumer red light therapy products. Appearing in the podcasts of virtually all famous biohackers.
So why have I continued to resist the pitch despite strongly believing in red light therapy? Three main reasons:
- Price to power ratio
- Biological stress
- Light spectrum
I’ll expand on each.
Joovv makes the most expensive consumer light therapy panels. By a long shot. The same third-party tests above found their products no more powerful than other brands. And in some cases, less. Value wise, Joovv is the back of the pack.
Biological stress refers to the negative side-effects of powerful LED panels. Red light panels have problems with flicker and EMF radiation. JOOVV is no exception. Again, my post on healthy lighting explains why flicker is such an issue. The last thing you want from therapeutic use is to do more harm than good.
New Generation 3.0 Joovv models all come with a mix of true 660nm red light, and 850nm infrared light. Each spectrum confers different benefits. While combining both is best, I already built my own near-infrared 850nm sauna for ~$150. I get plenty of near-infrared and prefer my panel output 100 percent red light.
The Top RLT Devices Compared
To take advantage of red light therapy, you have three options:
- Build your own panel (advanced)
- Thoroughly test cheap panels (intermediate)
- Buy a pre-made panel (beginner)
DIY: If you enjoy lengthy projects and have relevant background, building your own panel gets you the best value. The greatest power to price. I went this route initially, and manually soldering each of 300 LEDs turned out to be too much of a pain and I abandoned the project. I’d only recommend this option to skilled electrical engineers.
Cheap: You can find hundreds of cheap RLT panels available from no-name brands. If you choose this route, be sure to thoroughly test the panel since the specs online are highly inaccurate and exaggerated. Sellers frequently lie to customers and dodge questions about specs. You’ll want an EMF meter (safety), a slow-mo camera to measure flicker (safety), and a light irradiance meter (power) at the very least. Best for those with plenty of time (shipping often takes 30+ days), and willingness to work with international sellers on returning fake products. For most, the time cost alone makes it a poor choice.
Pre-made: The most common option, however, is to buy a pre-made panel. You’ll know what you’re getting, have better support should you need it, won’t need to buy additional supplies, and receive your panel quickly. This is the ideal choice for 99 percent of biohackers and those wanting to try red light therapy.
At the time of this writing, here are the ultimate red light therapy products on the market.
Best Overall Joovv Alternative: Platinum LED Therapy BioMax 600
Wavelength: 630nm, 660nm, 810nm, 830nm and 850nm
LEDs: 200 x 3w
Beam Angle: 90 Degree
Warranty: 3 Years
Full Price: $899
Similar design and appearance to JOOVV panels. The BioMax regularly tests among the most powerful Red Light Therapy devices on the market. Platinum LED uses a patented broad-spectrum light. You get the synergistic benefits of five wavelengths rather than one or two isolates like most panels. Between the build quality, reputation, aesthetics, power, safety, and price, the Platinum LED BioMax 600 is the market-leading product.
Use code URBAN for a special discount.
Joovv Alternative #2: Red Therapy Co’s RedRush 720
Specialty: Precision Dosing
Wavelength: 660nm, 850nm
LEDs: 240 x 3W
Beam Angle: Unknown
Warranty: 2 Years
Full Price: $779.00
Red Therapy Co released their flagship product, the 720W panel at approximately half the price of the equivalent JOOVV panel. In terms of electrosmog, unfortunately, the RR720 puts out more electric fields than the others. But makes it for it with low magnetic fields. Contains both near-infrared (850nm) and red (660nm). The panel comes with an app that helps ensure you get the optimal dose of red light. Remember, more light isn’t always better. Overall, a good value especially when on sale.
Use code URBAN for $25 off all panels.
Joovv Alternative #3: Luminousred Model 2 Pro
Specialty: High-Tech Panel, Most Powerful
Wavelength: 660nm, 850nm
LEDs: 240 x 3W
Beam Angle: 30 degree
Warranty: 2 Year
Full Price: $649
The highest-tech RLT device available, with a Joovv-like modular design. A young but promising company founded in 2019. What I like most is that Luminousred panels have zero flicker and dual LEDs. Most LEDs work by flickering at a rate unperceivable to the eye, but stressful to the nervous system (see my article on healthy lighting for more info). No other panels sport dual LEDs. Unlike normal LEDs, you can turn off near-infrared and use all the diodes for red. Or vice versa. This gives your panel the ability to output 100 percent NIR, 100 percent red, or a mix of both light spectrums. Their unique 30-degree beam angle emits the light in a tighter manner so that you reap the full benefits. I was so impressed with Luminousred’s technology that I got my own to add to my homemade near-infrared sauna.
Use code URBAN for a special $20 discount on all panels.
Joovv Alternative #4: Red Light Man Device
Specialty: Beginner Panel
Wavelength: 610nm, 630nm, 660nm, 680nm
LEDs: 64 x 3W
Beam Angle: 70 degrees
Full Price: $260
Looking for a mini light? Red Light Man is the go-to. These panels are compact and well-built. Their signature “Red light device” is the only broad-spectrum device with exclusively red wavelengths (no infrared). Their surge in demand has caused a recent price bump. They offer free delivery to USA & UK. Shipping alone for 20+ pounds panels can cost a fortune. If you’re looking for a solid beginner red light therapy product, go for Red Light Man.
Joovv Alternative #5 (Amazon): Hooga HG500 Red Light
If you’re dead-set on getting a panel through Amazon, Hooga is a new and growing brand. Hooga has been around since 2019, and their HG500 is a decent beginner panel. If it indeed puts out the claimed wattage, it’s a good value. Some users have complained that their HG500 puts out high EMF. Hooga uses a targeted 60-degree beam angle which provides more efficient sessions. They also offer a two-year full replacement warranty should something go wrong. For the same price, I’d go with the tested and beloved Red Light Man device. But the HG500 is another decent and convenient beginner panel.
How to Buy The Cheapest Red Light Therapy Devices
Buying cheap LED products is a gamble.
You could save a few hundred, or you might get stuck with a faulty product. I don’t recommend this approach, but if you’re open to risk, here are the steps to getting the best possible value red light therapy panel.
Browse Reddit for popular Alibaba brands. Choose one and start by asking the vendor questions:
- What is the beam angle? 30-or 60-degree beam angles are optimal
- What is the irradiance across the entire body? Should be between 10mW/cm^2 and 20mW/cm^2. Preferably third-party verified.
- Have the panels been third-party tested for EMF? If so, ask for the test results.
- What is the rated power and true wall draw (in Watts)? Verify the device should be powerful.
Next, you’ll want your own equipment to verify the manufacturer’s answers once your panel arrives:
- TES-1333 Solar Power Meter [Amazon] to measure light intensity at the distance you intend to use the panel.
- Cornet ED-88TPlus [Amazon] to measure electrosmog output. If the device produces high EMFs, it may do more harm than good.
I like to see an irradiance of at 15mW/cm^2 across my entire body. And minimal EMF output (especially magnetic fields).
The above meters have other uses as well. But unless you can get them at discounts, the cost savings and difficultly of DIY importation from China aren’t worth the headaches.
The Best Red Light Therapy Panels on a Budget
Red light is a powerful growth, healing, and regenerative stimulus. Whenever possible, I like to get more red exposure by sun gazing during sunrise or sunset. Still, I spend most of my day on the computer getting blasted by blue light. That’s why I turn to panels that I can use from the comfort of my bedroom.
NovoTHOR is the ultimate and most researched light therapy product in the world. Unless you have $140,000 to burn, however, you’ll need something more affordable that’s almost as powerful.
In comparison Joovv is affordable. But there are even higher quality, more advanced, budget-friendly panels on the market. I made the mistake of trying to build my own. After $250 of parts and materials, I scrapped the project. Buying from Alibaba can be affordable or a huge waste. It takes patience, and equipment to do right.
I bit the bullet and got a pre-made panel. When evaluating products I compared:
- Light irradiance (power)
- Electrosmog, flicker, and build quality (safety)
- Color spectrum (max benefits)
There are great options.
Each alternative above appeals to a different type of biohacker:
- Platinum LED: third-party tested and reputable company.
- Red Light Man: beginners and budget-friendly.
- Luminousred Model 2: most advanced technology and the most powerful 100 percent red.
- RedRush 720: app for precision dosing, occasionally has large promos, and is tied with Luminousred for maximum power.
- Hooga HG500: conveniently available on Amazon.
I found Luminousred leagues ahead of the competition. So much so that I plan to write up a review of my product.
Red light therapy is no magic bullet. But the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll begin seeing results and feeling your best.
Do you have a light panel? Let me know in the comments below.