“If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
That’s an uncomplicated strategy for life – and lighting. It’s led to the development of a whole industry geared to making the most of artwork and photography. If you have something in a frame, if you care enough about it to put it on your walls – give it its own light source.
You’d select the right light and filters for a selfie, why would your favorite pictures languish in the light and angles naturally available on the flat planes of your walls. Right?
That’s the thinking behind the cordless picture light – give your art or photos the light they deserve, and ideally, do it without any of the old-fashioned cord-pulling ‘Voila!’ that smacks of desperate showmanship.
Lots of light-makers have developed this kind of system, but which are the best? Which deserve your time, and more importantly, your dollars? The chances are high that many of them do, depending on the nature of the work you want to illuminate. How do you choose?
Let us help you. We’ve been through the field, examined the options, and broken them down for you into a viable shortlist. Save your time for making memories. When it comes to choosing the 10 best cordless picture lights, we’ve got you covered.
OUR TOP PICK
The Biglight wireless LED picture light stands at the top of our list for a handful of solid reasons.
It has a 13-inch lighting tube, to give good light coverage, and that comes on the end of a flexible arm that rotates through 180 degrees, meaning you can angle the light exactly as you want, to give your art or photography the precise angle that brings out the best in it.
To help it extract the most empathic reaction from anyone who looks at the subject, the light has three pre-set modes for you to toggle between: 3000K warm white, 8000K cool white, and 4300K natural white.
While not exactly the same technology, that has the effect of giving your art or photography three Instagram filters, and the effect of toggling between the three can be quite dramatic with the right pictures.
Let’s talk light for a moment. The Biglight offering brings 12 LEDs to your picture-lighting party, rather than the industry standard of just 6, and each LED carries a potential of 100 lumens.
The lights are also – separate from the three pre-sets – dimmable, for warmer glows as and when you feel the need for them. That gives you lots of lighting options, to suit both the subject of your picture, the time of day, and your mood.
One of the best features about this cordless picture light though is that it comes with a remote control, so there’s a lot less hassle involved in getting the lighting right for your pictures.
The Biglight brings a lot of technology and logic together to light your favorite pictures. While it doesn’t produce an enormous amount of light, given that it has 12 LEDs, it still does enough right to make it to the top of our list of recommendations.
- A 180-degree rotation arm means you have complete control of the lighting angles.
- 3 preset lighting modes give you instant moods
- 12 LEDs, compared to the standard 6, should give you the potential for more bright illumination
- Dimmable lights give you more lighting options
- The remote control gives you easy access to all your options
- Given that it has 12 LEDs at 100 lumens each, it’s not that bright at full power
On another day, on another list, the Luxsway might well have taken the top spot. It’s another very effective cordless picture light, with a slightly different slant to its leading features.
It brings you two brightness levels, and the same three pre-sets as the Biglight – cool white, warm white, and natural white. It also has a very similar 180-degree flexible support arm, so you can choose the angle from which the light hits your picture.
Where the Luxsway falls down compared to the Biglight is in sheer quantity of LEDs – where the Biglight brings 12, the Luxsway sticks with the industry standard of 6 LEDs in its lighting bar, though both manufacturers appreciate the impact of 100-Lumen LEDs.
Like the Biglight, the Luxsway’s lighting is dimmable by remote control, so you’re not left straining to get it right in the moment when you want to show off your picture.
Where the Luxsway comes into its own though is in the addition of a preset timer, so you can choose the length of time for which the light illuminates the picture – useful in greener households, where you want the impact of illumination, but you also want to reduce your energy burn.
There’s not a great deal separating the Luxsway from the Biglight. If the pre-set timer sways you more, the Luxsway is for you. If you want double the LEDs, go Biglight. They’re both extremely competent, attractive picture lights that will give you good service.
- 2 brightness settings – 100% and 50% - give you an eco-choice
- 6 LEDs, each at 100 Lumens, means you can bring the brightness
- The pre-set timer increases the range of what you can do with your light
- A remote control means maximum impact, minimum hassle lighting
- As with the Biglight, 100 Lumen LEDs translates into not that much light
If you’re a “fix it and forget it” kind of person who wants value for money in their lighting, the Rite Lite may well be your go-to option. With a lifespan of 100,000 hours, it beats the light-giving pants off everything else on the list in terms of hours of illumination per light stick.
With just 4 LEDs, and just 70 Lumens per LED, it’s a naturally more subdued picture light than either of our first two, but it also gives more flexibility of angle, with each of the lighting heads able to be individually angled.
If the 70 Lumen LEDs don’t give you enough subdued lighting already, the Rite Lite gives you a dimmer option via its remote control, and the outside of the light comes in a range of tones to add warmth to both the light and any room in which you put it.
Is it going to burn your eyes with the dazzling power of its luminosity? No, never. But then, who wants a picture light to do that? The Rite Lite will give your pictures warm illumination, and it will keep on working for hour after hour – long after many other picture lights need their bulbs or batteries changing.
- The 100,000-hour total lifespan means you can fix it and forget it
- For extra warm mood lighting, the remote control includes a dimmer
- Available in a range of finishes, including bronze and gold, to add warmth to the surrounding area
- With just 4 LEDs, each at 70 Lumens, it’s never going to give you that much coverage or illumination
From a warm, dim glow, let’s turn the lights up. The Honwell rechargeable cordless picture light features 28 bright SMD LEDs, and each of them has double the industry standard number of Lumens – 200, instead of 100. So, if you want a picture light with all the power to dazzle, this is your go-to purchase.
The standard three presets are here too – Natural White at 4300K, Warm White at 3000K, and Cool White at 8000K.
Honwell adds in a preset timer so you can control the length of time the lights are on your pictures, and it combines a flexible light head and a swan-necked support, so you can angle the light precisely and catch the best angles of each particular picture.
And as with all the picture lights on our list so far, it comes with a dimmer function, accessible through the remote control that gives you creative power over your picture lighting from the palm of your hand.
One additional feature that makes the Honwell stand out is its recharge function. It allows you to recharge the batteries by plugging in to a simple USB charging point – which can be extremely handy, compared to the manual battery replacement job required for most cordless picture lights.
If you have a larger wall of larger pictures needing more illumination, or if you just relish the convenience of a USB-chargeable option, the Honwell Rechargeable has a lot to offer.
- Brightest lighting we’ve seen, for more illumination or bigger walls
- USB-recharging gives you extra convenience.
- The preset timer gives you additional control over your lights
- Lights can be dimmed from the remote control
- You need to handle the remote control gently – unlike some others, it’s on the fragile side.
The Altrolux cordless picture light differs from all the options we’ve seen so far, in that it works more like a spotlight, each light having a single LED rather than a strip of several.
In terms of luminosity, Altrolux brings 80 Lumens to your lighting party, with just the one Natural White preset at 4000K.
Beyond that though, the Altrolux offers a lot of flexibility. Its spotlight design means it’s more versatile in terms of placement, and it has a multi-functional brightness control, so you can dim or brighten your picture’s illumination levels easily.
It also comes with a timer function, though on the Altrolux, it works in increments, rather than being programmable – you can make the lights turn off after 15, 30, 60, or 120 minutes, all from the remote control that comes with the light.
While the different nature of the light takes you away from the swan neck style of the others in our list so far, you can still tilt and swivel the light to the appropriate angle for your pictures.
The Altrolux picture light is a smaller light with a different take to the majority of the bar-light style which make up our list. But for a small light, it packs a punch of light bigger than you’d expect, and also fights above its weight on features and flexibility.
- The spotlight style gives you more flexibility on placement
- The timing function is easy to set and saves energy
- The remote control feels especially dramatic when used on a spotlight-style light
- The combination of small size and reasonably powerful LED means it can eat batteries fast
With a top-shielded ‘banker’s lamp’ style that ensures all its light is focused on the picture it’s illuminating, the Concept Lighting 202L means business.
With a bronze external hood, it adds warmth to the room whether it’s switched on or not, and it comes with a ‘Warm White’ light to give your picture an inviting quality.
The Concept – as the company name rather suggests – also brings more heavy-duty science to the business of picture lighting than you might expect. Using advanced solid state circuitry, the light has Pulse Width Modulation technology.
What does that do? It extends the life of the light on any bulb or set of batteries, that’s what. You’re looking at getting up to 80 hours of operation out of the 202L – and that’s if you always use it at its brightest setting.
Naturally, the remote for the 202L lets you regulate the brightness of the light, so you can dim at will, for that cosier evening viewing. With an LED lifetime of around 50,000 hours, you’re not going to be changing those any time soon, and in terms of range, you can confidently expect to get light throw of up to 35 inches from one light.
One of the key benefits of the Concept 202L though is its connectivity through the remote. If you have a handful of 202L lights illuminating different pictures in your home or workspace, you can control them all through the single remote – fun if you want to give someone a guided tour of your pictures, as they can light up and shut off at the press of a button. It’s not quite magic, but it will feel pretty similar.
That’s the overall mark of the 202L – bright enough to give you effective illumination, with some hardwired science under the bronze hood.
- A classic design adds warmth to the room even before you turn it on
- Pulse Width technology helps you get the most out of your batteries
- With one remote to rule them all, you can create some pleasing multi-light effects
- More brightness would be welcome
The Concept 202L feeling a little underpowered for you?
OK, meet the big brother of the company’s line, the 302L.
Longer and more powerful than the 202L, the 302L has what could be described as presence. That’s a remarkable achievement in its own right when you consider the light only weighs around 1.2 pounds. That in turn means you can use it almost anywhere, without straining your back trying to attach it.
In total, the 302L will deliver 302 Lumens of light on your chosen picture – granted, nowhere near the luminosity of some of our higher-listed lights, but good enough for lots of pictures. And naturally, you can control the intensity of the light from the remote control, giving you instant dimming on command.
Now, we need to face an elephant in the 302L’s room. Does it eat batters for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Well…well, yes, it does, and there’s no getting away from that. It’s a power-hungry picture light, and that’s worth knowing before you click the ‘Buy’ button.
But in terms of style, style and a handful of stylish tricks like the remote dimming function, the 302L has to be worth considering – especially if you’re nearly there with the 2020l, but not quite sold.
- 302 Lumens of illumination per picture is enough for many situations
- Longer than the 202L, it has an equivalent focus
- Coming in at a lightweight 1.2 pounds, it’s easy to mount wherever you need it
- It eats batteries regularly
Need a picture light available in various options for a range of different pictures?
The Situ Lighting Cordless and Rechargeable picture light might well have your number.
It’s available in three models – the 2-light, the 1-light, and the 1-light short – so you can choose the size and light-throw levels that are right for individual pictures. Unlike some of the higher-performance picture lights, this allows you a much more personal illumination profile, meaning nothing should ever feel like it’s under- or over-lit.
The Situ also comes with an automatic 5-hour shut-off, so you’re not wasting battery power unnecessarily.
If you pick up the 2-light version, you can adjust each light individually to give highlights and lowlights as you need them for a particular picture.
Rechargeability is obviously one of the Situ’s special weapons too, and in around 3.5 hours, the battery will fully recharge. What does that get you? Usually around 40 hours of running time per full charge – which with a 5-hour shut-off means you should get around a week’s worth of illumination from the single charge.
It may not have the bells and whistles of a Luxsway or a Biglight, but the Situ Cordless and Rechargeable has versatility and a quick recharge on its side. If you have lots of pictures of different sizes, it can give you a one-stop-shop result, rather than mixing and matching lights from different brands.
- The 5-hour shut-off timer means you don’t waste battery
- You get a 40-hour run time from under 4 hours of charge
- Available in a range of sizes, to meet different picture lighting needs
- Uniquely so far on our list, this is a picture light without a remote
The Method Lights ML200 Plus wireless picture light looks like very little else on our list – and it wears its differences proudly.
A ceiling-mounted rechargeable light, the way it’s mounted means you’re very unlikely to get light glare on the picture itself. It also means minimum fuss and wiring-free, for a straightforward installation.
Some people would call it small, but we prefer compact, because it’s not as though its size has much to do with the luminosity it throws. It’s also packing a surprising amount of light and color technology into its 3-pound frame.
In particular, True Color Light technology is designed to make the most of your pictures, without doing them any UV harm and without making you ever strain your eyes. In case that looks likely, you can dim the lights too.
And yes, one extra bonus for a ceiling-mounted light is that it’s rechargeable. From a full charge, and used every day, you should get between 3-4 weeks between charges, though it’s worth remembering that the Method Lights offering uses power even in standby or off modes, so don’t go assuming that if you haven’t used it in a while you won’t need to charge it.
It won’t be gorging power from its six high-capacity lithium-Ion 18650 cells, but it will constantly be nibbling away at its full store.
You get a highly competent timing function with this light too, meaning you not only have options on whether or not to keep it running, but if you set a timer on it, it will automatically shut off at a particular time, rather than illuminating your pictures for no-one but the ghosts while you sleep.
The ceiling mounting of the ML200 Plus makes it almost infinitely flexible compared to wall or frame-mounted lights, and can give you a range of more subtle illumination effects. If you’re not convinced by any of the higher-listed sophisticates, it could just be that what will serve your pictures best is the Method Lights ML200 Plus.
- Easy to install and mount on the ceiling
- The remote control gives you timing function and dimmer capabilities
- A quick recharger, this light will give you up to a month on one charge
- It’s always draining the battery, even in standby and off modes
A Luxsway cordless picture light, and rechargeable? What’s gonna be wrong with that?
Well, not a whole heck of a lot, obviously, as it makes our list of the 10 best cordless picture lights on the market right now.
The light tube here is over 11 inches long and rotates by 180 degrees to help you find the perfect angle to light your pictures.
Luminosity-wise, you’re looking at a total output of 250 Lumens, and unlike most of those on our list, you get more than different tones of white with the Luxsway Rechargeable.
You get a Warm White as standard, but by pressing various buttons on the remote, you can also flood your picture with either red, green, or blue light, all at 4000K.
The remote also gives you access to some…shall we say…disco features, adding a fun touch to the Luxsway Rechargeable. Want some strobe effects? Mmmm, check whether they’re safe to use around whoever you’re showing your pictures to, but if you want them, you get them.
Flashing, fading, smoothing – all available at the touch of a button. When Luxsway sets out to give you a little extra, extra is what you get.
The remote also lets you access the timer functions and the dimmer options, so you’re going to want to figure out your way around it before you start inviting friends around to see your illuminated pictures.
Nobody wants to press a button for a subtle dimming only to discover they’ve activated the strobe.
Yeah, those consequences going through your mind right now? That. Alllll of that.
As we’ve said, one of the key stand-out features of any rechargeable picture light is…well, is its rechargeability.
Here, Luxsway doesn’t perform with the all-conquering power you might expect it to. It takes up to around 6 hours to charge the Luxsway Rechargeable, so really speaking, it’s an overnight job, unless you want to constantly keep popping back to see whether it’s done yet.
It will tell you when it’s good and ready – it has a little indicator light that will more or less expire with relief when it’s charged.
Oh, one final thing – that remote you need to learn your way around? Yeah – really learn your way around it. You can use the one remote to control up to 10 lights within a radius of 20 feet. Getting that right can add a real flair to your picture-viewing tour.
Getting it wrong could lead to all sorts of complications, from strobe-hit epileptic guests to tasteful portraits being suddenly turned into charnel house photos by the application of a warm, some might even say arterial shade.
The Luxsway Rechargeable is a great picture light – by no means as powerful in terms of pure illumination as its higher-end cousin at the top end of our list, but much more fun, filled with flair and options. Learn the remote, go to your Jedi place to wait for it to recharge, and it can give you a great picture lighting experience.
- Multi-colored lighting options give your walls a lot more flair than just a range of whites
- One remote can rule up to 10 lights within a radius of 20 feet
- A rechargeable picture light means longer use between batteries
- It takes six hours to recharge
That’s our quick run-down of the 10 best cordless picture lights. Which one is right for you will depend on your particular needs – the size of your walls, the size of your pictures, whether rechargeability matters to you, whether you’re looking for a simple display or a dash of additional flair, etc.
Hopefully the run-down will help you identify where you sit on the spectrum of picture light buyers. But in case you need a little more help, check out our buyer’s guide, with questions to consider before you buy.
Best Cordless Picture Light Buying Guide
There are a whole handful of things to consider when you’re buying a picture light – there’s much more to it than the luminosity.
Want to be buying more picture lights a year from now?
Didn’t think so. To avoid that otherwise-inevitable fate, you need to check how long your picture light is scheduled to live.
Surely, all picture lights are equal when it comes to lifespan, right?
That’s like saying all human beings are equal in terms of lifespan. You can find some that only predict their life in terms of 30,000 hours. Others will tell you they have 50,000 good hours in them. Still others reckon they’re in it for the long haul and claim a longevity of 100,000 hours.
Read the lifespan. Compare and contrast the lifespans of say your top three choices. If it’s your light, it’s your choice, but if you have a light lifespan of under 30,000 hours, we’d question whether you’re getting the value you deserve for your picture light money.
OK, fine, the factors that determine what’s a good picture light for you are not all wound up in luminosity, but it’s pretty important if you’re going to get the right light for your needs.
If you end up with a picture light that doesn’t illuminate the picture strongly enough, you won’t get the effect you’re looking for. If you get a light that doesn’t illuminate far enough, it’s not going to do the job you want it to, either.
Luminosity in a light is measured in Lumens. The higher the Lumen count, the brighter the light. A good industry standard is 100 Lumens per LED – and our top two leading picture lights both hit that mark. You can get lights that double that Lumen count, and if you need more brightness, they’re absolutely on the money. If you have bigger pictures or bigger walls, go with higher Lumen counts.
But sometimes, you’re not going for that supermarket fluorescent vibe. Sometimes, you want things lower, slower, and more mellow. In those circumstances, you can dip down and get value out of lights that only have something like 70 or 80 Lumens. It’s a particular effect, and it won’t suit everyone, but for those who want it, those lower Lumen lights fit a very particular niche.
It’s also worth considering the ‘temperature’ of the light you’re getting. Consider the setting and the picture, and then choose a light that can give you the right temperature to best set off the picture – do you need a Warm White for this portrait, a Cold White for the wintry scene of snowballing with the kids, or a Natural White for the likes of spring shots or most rural scenes? Make sure the light you choose can give you the ‘mood’ and the ‘temperature of illumination you need to match your pictures.
When we’re talking about mood and colour, that also applies to the external design of the picture light. If you have a room full of old things and warm colors, slapping a bright white hyper-modernist picture light on the ceiling will break the mood.
In those circumstances, go for something with a bronze, brass or golden finish, to add warmth and luster to the overall feel of the room. Likewise, if your room is modern minimalist, avoid the warm metals like the plague – they’ll look affected and out of place. Go with the more modern design, even something dramatic and quirky, but keep the exterior color pale and neutral.
What can possibly be unsafe about a picture light, right? You’d be surprised. Most picture lights are now UV-free, so they don’t heat up the pictures they’re illuminating, but the lights themselves can overheat if left on and unattended for too long.
Look for lights that have timer functions or preset cut-offs, so you allow the light to light to shut down and cool off.
How you attach your light to its rightful place can depend on the type of light it is, but beware getting too heavy a light and expecting it to hang from the picture’s frame.
Make your choice between a wall mounting a clamp mounting and even a ceiling mounting, depending on the type of light you have, and its weight. Ideally, go for a mounting that’s minimal hassle to undo if need-be, but strong enough to support the light through a long life.
The price is undoubtedly a factor in any purchase – especially if you’re buying more than one light for a multitude of pictures. Match the must-have features of your picture light with your budget – especially your budget cut into the same number of pieces as you intend to buy lights.
Best Cordless Picture Light - FAQ's
1. How big should a picture light be?
To answer that, you first need to answer a question for yourself: how big is your picture?
If that sounds flippant, it shouldn’t. Any light doing a job needs to be large enough – or in this case, have a large enough area of light dispersal – to illuminate its subject.
Don’t bother looking for the physical size of the light – that’s more or less immaterial. Look for the area of its light-throw.
Beyond that, it’s important that you understand the relationship between whether a picture is landscape or portrait and the kind of light you need.
For portrait pictures, choose a picture light that illuminates about half the width of the picture.
For landscape pictures, choose a picture light that illuminates between a third and a half of the picture width.
That way, you won’t over-drench the picture in light, but will allow natural light creep to pick out pleasing elements and angles in the picture.
2.How high above a picture should you hang a picture light?
There’s no hard and fast rule on this – the picture light police aren’t going to break your doors down and demand you re-hang a light three inches to the left in the middle of the night.
But there are stylistic and aesthetic traditions. 7 inches has become a favored norm.
Why 7 inches? In a sense, the answer is best explained through imagery. Put your face right up close to a picture. Any picture. Is that the best way to experience it?
We didn’t think so. Move back from the picture a little though, and things come into focus. Things that were just blobs and blues begin to reveal forms and subtleties. You begin to see a picture, rather than a blur.
The same is true to some extent with picture lights. Too close, and what you’ll have is a small area that’s intensely lit, while the rest of the picture is in relative darkness. Cue mystified guests and an unsuccessful showing all round.
Move the light back 7 inches, and you allow the dimensions of luminosity to spread across enough of the picture to make it not only illuminated but interesting to look at.
On the other hand, move it back too far, and you’re asking the light to work harder than it was designed to do when bringing light to the surface of the picture. If you have a picture light with a low number of Lumens, if you put it too far away, it will struggle to give light to the picture.
There’s also the secondary concern that while most picture lights no longer transmit UV radiation which can damage pictures, any source of light will get hot over time. That’s fine if the light is far enough away from the picture. If it’s too close though, there’s always the danger of damage, or even fire.
3. How many Lumens should my picture light have?
Again, there’s no hard and fast rule on this, but there are conventions. A picture light of 100 Lumens, correctly placed 7 inches away from your picture, would in most cases give you enough illumination to effectively show off a picture.
But again, there are circumstantial factors at play. If you have a large wall, or a large picture, you may find you need double the usual number of Lumens – and there are 200 Lumen picture lights on the market.
If on the other hand your display area is quite small, you may not need the standard number, and might be perfectly able to get along with something like 70 or 80 Lumens.
100 is a standard safe bet. Take it as your starting point, then look at the size of your room and the size of your picture, and adapt accordingly.