If you need additional information on our products, click any of our specific product guides (please give each guide a minute or two to load):
- The Sunbox Desk Light (for current owners only)
- The Sunlight Jr
- The Sunsation
- The Sunsquare+
- The SunRay
- The SunRay II
- The LED SunUp Desk Lamp
What You Need to Know Before Purchasing a Bright Light Therapy Product
Before making a purchase decision on a bright light therapy product such as a light box, please do your homework carefully. This decision impacts your health as well as your wallet, so please don’t make a hasty decision, purchasing the cheapest thing you find without considering other factors. If you do, you might find that the price you paid was too high!
Dependable Light Box Information
The Sunbox Company believes there are several issues more important than money when making this decision. This Buyer’s Guide will give you all the light box information you need and discuss these issues in full detail in the sections below.
- Blue Light
- Fact Vs. Fiction
- Insurance Coverage
- Return Policy
- Shipping Information
The two most important issues are whether the product has been proven to be both safe and effective. Remember that this is a product you will likely use on a daily basis, for a significant part of the year (or perhaps year-round), for many years to come, so you’ll want a product that is as comfortable for you to use as possible. The warranty and the return policy offered on the product will give you a clue as to its durability, and how well the manufacturer stands behind it.
Making the decision to invest in a light box overcomes a major procrastination obstacle for many people, and once they’ve placed the order, they want to get the product yesterday. While this is impossible, of course, getting the order processed and en route promptly should not be. Shipping options to expedite your order are discussed below.
For those unsure of whether a light box will be helpful for them, the idea of renting one rather than purchasing may seem attractive – this approach has its advantages and disadvantages, which are discussed below. You may find it helpful to contact your health insurance company before proceeding – sometimes insurance policies cover light box purchases, if you follow the proper procedures. It’s worth a call to find out – some of our customers have gotten full coverage.
The last topic in this Buyer’s Guide is our “Fact Vs. Fiction” section, where we debunk many of the myths surrounding the use of bright light products, and the inaccuracies promoted by unscrupulous companies.
While many light box companies have their customers’ best interests at heart, there are many others that only care about the bottom line: separating you from your money. Be careful and do you homework to make sure that any company you choose to do business with is a reputable one.
Dr. Norman Rosenthal in his 2014 revision of “Winter Blues” writes: “From my point of view, however, a lot more testing is needed before we can conclude that blue light is safe and effective, let alone superior to white light. Remember we now have over twenty years of experience with white light, which is both safe and effective. I therefore recommend traditional white light-not blue light-for the treatment of SAD.”
We’ve incorporated several important features into our light boxes designed to increase user comfort. These include a downward angle, using full spectrum light, and high quality electronic ballasts.
There are four important factors when considering the effectiveness of a light box: (1) Has the product been clinically tested? (2) Does it provide 10,000 lux of light, a brightness equivalent to being outside on a clear spring day shortly after sunrise? (3) Does it deliver the light in a downward angle? and (4) Is the light diffused evenly over the entire surface of the lamp?
Fact vs Fiction
Myths surrounding light therapy, and the untruthful statements some other companies make. There are a lot of myths regarding light therapy that have been floating around for many years. There are also a lot of companies that don’t care about selling you a quality product that meets your individual needs and are willing to bend (or even break) the truth to try to separate you from your money. Here we’ll examine each of these myths and relate truthful information, based upon clinical evidence, and reveal the outright falsehoods perpetuated by other companies.
Myth #1: My doctor told me all I need to do is to replace all my existing light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs and that will alleviate my SAD symptoms. Why this might sound plausible: SAD appears when people are not exposed to enough environmental sunlight. Sunlight has an even color distribution, which full spectrum lighting comes close to replicating. The initial studies on light therapy for SAD used full spectrum light fixtures. The truth: The truth is that researchers have determined that lighting below 2,500 lux simply isn’t bright enough to affect brain chemistry to the degree necessary to allow for the alleviation of SAD symptoms. Most homes have lighting below 500 lux, and well-lit offices generally have light levels between 500-700 lux. Replacing the bulbs in your existing fixtures with full spectrum bulbs does nothing to increase the light output; a 40-watt full spectrum fluorescent tube puts out the same amount of light as a 40-watt cool white fluorescent. Shop lights you’d get at your local hardware store or lighting store are designed to produce enough light to allow you to see what you’re doing, not enough to affect brain chemistry. For that, special light fixtures, designed for increased light output, are necessary.
Myth #2: All light boxes that use full spectrum light emit harmful UV rays. Why this might sound plausible: Some lighting companies use the term “full spectrum” to include the ultraviolet wavelengths. The Truth: The term “full spectrum” is a loosely-defined term, used differently by different companies within the lighting industry, but it always means light with a color temperature of at least 5,000? Kelvin. When using this term, some companies include the ultraviolet wavelengths, while others, such as the SunBox Company, use it to mean the full visible part of the spectrum, which does not include the invisible UV wavelengths. Our full spectrum light boxes have an acrylic diffuser which eliminates UV wavelengths from being emitted (independent lab report available upon request).
Myth #3: The larger the light box, the more effective it is. Why this might sound plausible: A larger light box will “bathe” you in a field of light, which gives the illusion of more light reaching you. The Truth: We are unaware of any clinical evidence that a large light box is any more effective than a smaller box producing the same brightness and used properly. While a larger light box allows you some freedom of movement while using it (you can move from side to side during your light session and receive the same intensity of light in either position), this could be a potential drawback: if you think you can change your position during your light session, you might move further from it or closer to it, or might move too far to either side, all of which will change the light levels reaching your eyes, resulting in inconsistent light exposure during the session.
Myth #4: If a light box is not shielded for electromagnetic radiation, it isn’t safe. Why this might sound plausible: There’s been a lot of speculation about the potential harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation. Years ago, there was concern among people living near power lines, and recently, there’s been a scare about cell phones causing brain cancer. Magnetic ballasts in fluorescent fixtures are known to produce some electromagnetic radiation. The Truth: We are unaware of any clinical evidence of the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF). Besides, while older fluorescent fixtures with magnetic ballasts produce electromagnetic radiation in small amounts, the same is not true for current fixtures that use electronic ballasts. Even with magnetic ballasts, the level of electromagnetic radiation is insignificant in a properly diffused light fixture at the distance necessary to receive the correct amount of light.
Myth #5: A parabolic reflector is necessary to produce the proper amount of light in a light box. Why this might sound plausible: A reflector does increase light output by reflecting light from the back of the bulb out through the front of the light box. The Truth: Using a parabolic reflector to increase light output is actually an inexpensive shortcut, not the optimal solution. It minimizes the number of bulbs necessary to produce higher intensities of light. The drawback of reflectors, though, is that the reflected light is dimmer than the direct light, resulting in uneven light distribution on the light box surface. This means there will be bright and dim spots, so moving your eyes even an inch in any direction could significantly impact the amount of light received by your eyes.
Myth #6: If a light box that produces 10,000 lux gives results in 15-30 minutes per day, I can cut my treatment time in half by using a light box that produces 20,000 lux. Why this might sound plausible: Research has shown that for intensities between 2,500 lux and 10,000 lux, double the intensity generally equates to half the treatment time. The Truth: Intensities higher than 10,000 lux have not been studied for safety or efficacy. There is no clinical evidence that intensities higher than 10,000 lux are safe, so if the health of your eyes and your skin is at all important to you, you should carefully weigh the significant risks to your health of using untested technology for the sake of reclaiming a mere 10-15 minutes each day.
Insurance Coverage (Use Insurance Code E0203)
Some of our customers have been reimbursed by their insurance companies, with coverage usually ranging from 50% to as much as 100% coverage. Many others have had no luck getting any coverage, even after many appeals.
The issue of insurance coverage is complicated for many reasons. First, insurance companies vary greatly in classifying various treatments. Second, they vary their coverage from one policyholder to another, based on how the individual policies are written.
To date, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not evaluated light therapy. Because of this, many insurance companies claim bright light treatment is experimental. However, many published studies support bright light treatment as a viable therapy, and in fact, it is the approved, mainstream treatment according to both the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association.
To determine whether your health insurance policy covers light therapy devices, you will need to contact your insurance company directly and inquire. If they say that they will (or even ‘may’) cover a SunBox purchase, make sure you GET IT IN WRITING, and that you fully understand their procedure(s). Sometimes a claim is denied because our customer was overenthusiastic and ordered the product before obtaining either a prescription from their health professional (not required for purchase but may be required for the reimbursement claim) or the proper pre-approval from their insurance company. Unfortunately, you need to play by your insurance company’s rules.
If you receive a noncommittal response and decide to take a chance on receiving reimbursement, you’ll probably want to have your doctor write a letter on your behalf that resembles the following sample letter:
Sample Letter #1 : For Insurance Company Reimbursement
|To whom it may concern: (Insurance carrier)This is to certify that (patient’s name) is a patient of mine. (S)he is being treated for recurrent major depressions with a seasonal pattern.Referral to “seasonal patterns of depression” has been included in the most recent revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV). Phototherapy is no longer considered experimental, but is a mainstream type of psychiatric treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the December 8, 1993 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “For many patients with SAD, light therapy should be regarded as a first-line treatment, given its high success and acceptance rate” (Vol. 270, No. 22, pages 2717-2720). In 1989, the American Psychiatric Association’s Task Force on Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders (Vol. 3, pages 1890-1896, A.P.A. Press), recommended light therapy as treatment for the range of clinical depression diagnoses including:
In order to administer phototherapy adequately, a bright light unit is required. In (patient’s name)’s case, the use of the bright light unit should be regarded as a medical necessity and may be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.
These procedures conform to April 1993 U.S. Public Health Service-Agency for Health Care Policy and Research guidelines for management of this disorder.
(Prescribing doctor’s signature)
You may also find our Reimbursement Guide to be helpful.
Our products are not for everyone, and we realize that many of our products represent a considerable financial investment for a lot of people. If our products don’t help you, we don’t want you to be stuck with them: we want you to return them for a refund. This benefits you (no risk), and benefits us (you might know someone else who might benefit from our products, and word-of-mouth advertising from a satisfied customer is worth much more than traditional advertising). Our products are meant to be used, so we want all our products to find homes with people who will enjoy and benefit from them.
All products purchased from The SunBox Company may be returned within 45 days from date of purchase for a full refund (less shipping costs) if returned in good condition. We ask that you keep the original shipping materials to reuse in case of return, as this is the best way to ensure that the unit will not be damaged in transit back to us.
From time to time, additional time is necessary to determine whether one of our products will be helpful to you or not. If this is the case, please contact us to discuss the situation; the 30 day return policy is not set in stone, and we are happy to make reasonable exceptions to this policy.
Several safety components should be incorporated into any light therapy device you use. These are (1) the absence of UV wavelengths, (2) a proper diffusing screen, and (3) UL listing.
Ultraviolet (UV) Wavelengths: UV wavelengths are not necessary components for the effectiveness of light therapy products. In small amounts (that is, less than 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight per day), UV can be beneficial – it helps your skin produce vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption. However, in larger amounts, we know UV is harmful. These wavelengths have been implicated for many years in such conditions as the formation of cataracts, skin cancer, and premature aging of the skin. Most people get enough environmental UV exposure per day just going to and from work, without having to expose themselves to any more of it. For this reason, and because of the known harmful effects of UV, researchers in the field of bright light treatment are unanimous in their recommendation of UV-free light therapy equipment. The SunBox Company’s light boxes have all been tested for UV emissions by an independent laboratory, which has concluded that they are UV-free. We have the reports available upon request.
Diffusing Screen: The acrylic diffuser that is standard in most – but not all – commercially available light boxes spreads the light evenly across the surface of the unit. This makes the light more comfortable for your eyes and protects them from light brighter than 10,000 lux, the highest amount of light that’s ever been tested in clinical studies, for safety and efficacy. Using a unit that does not have a diffuser on it could expose your eyes to “pinpoints” of light that could pose a hazard. In addition to spreading the light evenly over the light box surface, the diffuser also absorbs the UV wavelengths that are emitted by the bulbs (all bulbs emit UV light to some degree). Without a diffuser, you are not protected from the potentially harmful effects of UV emissions. The only case of eye damage with bright light therapy of which we are aware occurred in a man who had built his own light box. Unfortunately, he attempted to save money by omitting the diffusing screen, and suffered retinal damage from using his homemade light box.
UL Listing: Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is an independent group that tests and certifies products for consumer safety in the United States. For an electronic product to be listed by UL, it must undergo stringent testing that ensures that it is electrically safe for home use, and it must be built according to exacting standards. Some manufacturers state that their products have “UL Listed Components.” This is a very misleading statement, since electrical components available to U.S. manufacturers must be UL Listed in order to be available for sale. That is, all electrical components used in U.S. manufacturing are UL Listed. The absence of a UL listing on a light therapy device indicates one of two things: either the manufacturer is unwilling to spend the money each year to have their products evaluated, or their product does not pass UL’s strict guidelines. In either case, you cannot be assured of the electrical safety of such products.
Unlike some of our competitors, who may take up to 8 weeks to ship orders, we ship within days of receiving your completed order. In fact, most of our orders ship the same business day. Our standard shipping method is UPS Ground for the lower 48 (U.S.) states, and U.S. Mail to Alaska and Canada.
If you’re in a rush to get your order, most orders can be shipped by expedited methods, for an additional fee.
We do ship worldwide, but do not have standardized fees for international shipping charges. Therefore, if you are placing an order to be shipped outside the U.S.A. or Canada, we will contact several carriers to obtain a quote before shipping your order. You will need to provide the following information before we can obtain the quote:
- complete delivery address, including recipient’s name
- daytime telephone number of the recipient (include country & city codes, if applicable)
- which product(s) are to be ordered
- how & when it would be convenient for us to contact you with a quote (our preferred method is by e-mail, so we don’t have to worry about time-zones)
Once we receive our quote from the various carriers – usually within an hour or two – we will contact you with the relevant information and ask you to verify the method of delivery and acceptance of the shipping charges.
Occasionally, our products arrive in damaged condition, despite our best packaging efforts (most damage occurs in December, when the carriers are overwhelmed with Christmas packages). Should this happen to you, simply contact us as quickly as possible, and we’ll do what we can to remedy the situation quickly and with as little inconvenience as possible.
The warranty a company offers on their products is a pretty good indication of how long the product should be expected to last. Everyone knows someone who made a major investment in a product, only to have it break down within a week after the warranty period expired!
If you purchase your SunBox from one of our retailers you need to call us and register your SunBox to initiate the warranty.
Below is our *Limited Lifetime Warranty” on the products we sell, by category:
SunBox Light Boxes: We warrant to the original purchaser that the SunBox light unit is to be free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal use and service for *lifetime of the product.
*To maintain this lifetime warranty, the light bulbs must be changed every (3) years to prevent ballast failure. Bulb replacement must be SunBox bulbs.
If repair is needed, simply return the unit to us, and we will repair and return the unit to you at our cost. If failure of the unit has resulted from accident, abuse, or misapplication, we shall have no responsibility to replace or repair it at our cost; however we will quote a price to you for repair at your expense. If the bulbs are not replaced every 3 years with SunBox bulbs and the damage is determined to be ballast due to non-compliance; we will repair at your expense.
The fluorescent tubes within the light box are guaranteed for two years from date of purchase.
Fluorescent Lamps: The SunBox Company guarantees its fluorescent tubes for two years from date of purchase against failure.
Incandescent Bulbs: The SunBox Company guarantees its incandescent bulbs for 90 days from date of purchase against failure
All other products sold by The SunBox Company are covered by the respective manufacturer’s warranties, which vary by product. Contact us for more information about warranties for specific products.
*To maintain this lifetime warranty, the light bulbs must be changed every (3) years to prevent ballast failure. Bulb replacement must be SunBox bulbs.
Please contact us direct at 1-800-548-3968 regarding any warranty questions.