DIY SAD Light Therapy Box

How to Make a Compact LED DIY Light Box

The box we made earlier is perfect for shooting in natural light. But you can’t always wait for the sun to shine when it comes to lightbox photography.

What if you need to shoot at night? Don’t worry, because our next project involves a light box with LED lights!

This method requires more time and energy, but it will be worth it. Especially since using LED lighting creates controllable exposure and colour temperature.

You will need:

Step 1

Step 1

Cut this shape on a white 3mm Perspex sheet. The dotted lines are folding marks and not cuts. The size of your DIY light box will be as big as the scale of your template.

As a reference, you can use the centre square to calculate the size of one of the sides of the light box.

You could also use white cardboard instead of Perspex. But it won’t be as durable or resistant to the elements.

Step 2

Step 2

Now fold your box, overlapping the triangle-shaped flaps. Keep them in place with adhesive tape or Velcro strips. With the latter, you’ll be able to collapse it for transportation and reassemble again easily.

Next, glue the 5V LED strip to the small flap on the top front of the box. If you have more of those lights to spare, consider adding more to cover all sides. Doing so guarantees that you have even illumination.

These lights are pretty inexpensive. They even come with a micro USB connection that you can plug to a portable power bank. You can do this with a simple cable, making this the ultimate “on the go” DIY light box.

Step 3

Step 3

Now, just use a white sheet of paper as a background. Prepare your product, and you are ready to shoot your image.

I shot this image at f/22, 1/4 of second shutter s

I shot this image at f/22, 1/4 of second shutter speed, and 400 ISO.

Straight out of the camera, it has good overall exposure. On a comparative note, however, the light is not as natural looking as in the previous image.

The color temperature is probably a little off, too, due to the blueish color cast of the LED. But you can easily correct that with a more precise in-camera white balance or in post-production.

But if you want to get everything perfectly in one go, consider buying daylight-balanced LED strips. They’re a bit more expensive, but at least they produce more natural results.


DIY… With a Panel That Delivers Results

A good quality light therapy device is cheaper and far more convenient than multiple weekly visits to a medical professional. It’s extremely difficult for the average handy person to build a light therapy device that is as safe and will yield the same results as a clinical-grade panel, which is the most cost-effective and convenient solution.

With high-powered LED panels from PlatinumLED, you get ongoing benefits of one of the most effective natural therapies; one that will be an enjoyable part of your daily self-care routine.



So, moving a bit away from the LED side of things.. a lot of the ‘Low Level Laser Therapy’ or ‘Cold Laser’ treatments out there are using laser diodes instead. They can penetrate deeper, tend to be higher power, more focussed, etc. I’ve heard about these sorts of things being used to aid in healing of injured joints and more, enough to catch my interest. But once again, these things are expensive (a treatment might cost you $50/session).. and hard to come buy for the biohacker type who isn’t a medical professional. For example:

  • THOR Laser
    • ~US$14,000-24,000
    • Various LED/laser probe options (810nm IR laser, 660nm laser, etc)
    • These ones sound quite low powered too: 30mW, 75mW, 200mW, etc
  • MR4 Super Pulsed Laser:
    • ~AU$10,000
    • Infrared (860-960nm)
    • Red (600-740nm)
    • Laser (25w, pulsed)

So looking deeper into the wavelengths, power levels, and options, we find:

Skimming through some of this stuff.. it sounds like we want to look into pulsed/super pulsed laser diodes.. but what are they?

tl;dr: high power, low heat, deeper penetration, 904-905nm Gallium Arsenide (GaAS) diode

And if we turn to our trusty component dealer AliExpress, we turn up a few interesting search results:

  • pulsed laser diode 25w

Now remember.. lasers are dangerous, you can and will destroy your eyes if you do bad things with them. Always wear proper laser eye safety when doing anything like this. Also, if you’re in a country like Australia, they may just actually not let you import these full stop.. yay for draconian laws! There might be a way around it for ‘legit reasons’ (rather than annoying cats with red dots), but it’s not an area I’ve deeply looked into yet.

Now that that’s out of the way.. maybe like ~US$25 for a laser diode.. and then need to power it, probably cool it, etc. Better than $25k!

18. LED light therapy DPL therapy A 205 ALFA OEM China

   Best DIY Light Therapy from LED light therapy DPL therapy A 205 ALFA OEM China. Source Image: Visit this site for details:

3. Light Therapy 10,000 Lux Misnomer and Ambiguity

The gold standard in light therapy lights is 10,000 lux but this is a very misleading figure given without other critical measurements. 2,500 lux to 10,000 lux is stamped on almost all light therapy lights from a few watt LED lights all the way up to the multi-bulb fluorescent fixtures. As mentioned in the terminology section above lux is a measurement of illuminance per unit area so unless the distance from the light source to where the measurement was taken is also given, the lux rating should be disregarded.  Many products are purposely misleading customers, leading consumers to believe their product produces enough light for effective light therapy.  The manufacturer can just place the light meter at point blank on the bulb to achieve the desired 10,000 lux reading.  I have also seen references online to 10,000 lumen, this is also incorrect as lumens is a measurement of the total light output by a light source not the intensity at a given distance from a light source.

I built two lights, a directional and a omni-directional light.  The directional light has roughly a lux of 10,000 @ 20″, 5,000 @ 28″, and 2,500 @ 48″.  The omni-directional light has a lux of 10,000 @ 15″, 5,000 @ 21″, and 2,500 @ 32″.  If I bounce the directional light off the ceiling it produces an ambient room lighting level of about 500-1,200 lumens in a small room depending how close to the light you are which works well if left on for a few hours a day. The measurements were taken with a Sper Scientific 840022 broad range lux/FC meter.

15. Full Spectrum Light Therapy Build Hacked Gad s – DIY

   Best DIY Light Therapy from Full Spectrum Light Therapy Build Hacked Gad s – DIY. Source Image: Visit this site for details:

DIY Light Therapy Devices

You might be tempted to save money by making your own DIY LED red light therapy device, but that’s not advisable. For one reason, not just any “red” will do. The wavelengths used in red light therapy have been thoroughly studied and only a relatively narrow spectrum (known as the therapeutic window) has been found to have positive effects: from 630nm to 660nm (red) and from 810nm to 850nm (NIR).

There are dozens of DIY sites that describe the use of homemade infrared light bulbs to build your own DIY red light device. Often, this is referring to heat lamps. For your safety (and the sake of your wallet), it’s important to know that incandescent and halogen lights are not suitable for light therapy. This is because …

  • They emit diffused light, which means few light photons will absorb into the skin.
  • They emit most of their energy as heat. Never purchase an infrared heat lamp (the kind used to incubate chicks) for therapeutic use. These lamps can reach temperatures of over 500 degrees F! Because the light is diffused, you’d have to be inches away from the bulb, which would result in severe burns.
  • The lights can be calibrated to specific wavelengths. Coatings allow red/NIR photons to pass through, but there’s no way to determine which wavelengths they are. Even bulbs sold as “infrared light” or “NIR light” can’t specify wavelengths—which means you could be using one that’s mostly heat.
  • They generate ultraviolet radiation, which accelerates skin aging. 

Fluorescent lights are also not suitable for light therapy, since …

  • Although they don’t generate heat or UV radiation, their light is extremely diffused, so very few light photons will absorb into the tissues.
  • They dim over time.
  • They can’t be calibrated to red/NIR wavelengths. Coatings allow red/NIR photons to pass through, but there’s no way to determine which wavelengths they are.
  • Once the bulbs burn out, their mercury content requires safe disposal.

LED bulbs are the only bulbs suitable for red light therapy because …

  • They can be calibrated to deliver specific wavelengths within the therapeutic window.
  • They provide directional light, so more photons absorb into the body.
  • They last over 100,000 hours (nearly 30 years, running 24/7)
  • Very little of their energy is emitted as heat; most is emitted as bright light.
  • The LED red light therapy bulbs are compact, allowing tighter groupings for more effective irradiation of the treatment area.

You can purchase individual LED bulbs that are suitable for red light therapy. However, most don’t specify which wavelengths they emit. Some even call their bulbs “diffused,” which is the opposite of what’s needed for red light therapy.

In addition to the type of bulb, you also need to consider the number of bulbs required to effectively treat larger areas; the ability to choose specific red or NIR wavelengths, or a combination of both; a power supply; and other electrical elements used in a therapy device, including EMF radiation shields

Ultimately, you will have the best results by investing in a clinical-grade, high-power LED light therapy device. Fortunately, these have become more affordable in recent years, so you no longer have to own a clinic to afford one. 

Check out our BIO and BIOMAX lines for more information on affordable, DIY-friendly red light therapy devices. 

Symptoms Responsive to Light Box Therapy

Certain symptoms tend to be more responsive to light box therapy. They include:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive morning sleepiness, or hypersomnia
  • Winter or seasonal depression
  • Lethargy

Responses to treatment vary. Benefits may begin in the first few weeks of therapy, but consistency is key. Patients should use the therapy daily and at the time prescribed. Inconsistent use may have an impact on how effective the treatment will be.

DIY Light Box Bulbs in the 1100 Watt Halogen or 1500 watt Incandescent Range Minimum

A light box lamp is a really cool thing to make at home for DIY SAD Light Box Therapy. They come in different shapes and sizes and have several different options as far as bulbs that they can be installed in, but the most common are the LED and halogen.

Most of them you can find at places like Lowe’s or Home Depot.

If you really want one of these and don’t mind doing the wiring or installing it yourself, you could end up saving over 50% over the cost of a commercial bulb.

One thing I should mention about these, is that mo

One thing I should mention about these, is that most people don’t realize that a low voltage bulb will usually give out much less light than the higher voltage ones.

These are not always the cheapest either.

I bought one of these a while back and I am surprised at how cheap they are. In the case of the diy light bulb in the 1100 watt range minimum, it was under ten dollars.

You can get better quality ones that go all the way up to over two hundred dollars from many online retailers.

There are many other options that you can do with these too, so you can just leave them set and forget them. When the sun goes down, you can switch them off and go on to do something else with your lighting.

They give you a lot more flexibility and are very low cost lighting for the task that they were intended for, which is to light up a small space for your DIY SAD Light Box Therapy.

How to Build a DIY SAD Light Therapy Box Using CFL Bulbs

DIY SAD lighting.

You may be wondering how it works.

You may be wondering how it works.

Basically, the DIY SAD light therapy box uses a fluorescent light called a CFL. It is comprised of three phosphors, which are arranged in a circuit.

The CFL bulbs produce light when electrons move across the cells. When the electron moves in one direction, the electricity produced is a pulsating current. This current is used to cool down the room temperature while still providing adequate lighting for your home.

The electricity is produced by an electric generator and is run through wires that are attached to the ceiling.

You will need an electrical outlet for your DIY SAD and the bulbs should be placed near the outlet.

  • The electricity runs through a series of lead acid flooded cells and is then filtered through an additional chemical process.
  • How to build a DIY SAD light therapy box using CFL bulbs is to place your lighting in the box. The best place to do this is over a window, as this allows the light to shine out and focus on your table.
  • A table top placement allows you to place your lamp at a comfortable height and angle. Make sure you place your lamps away from other items in the room, such as furniture, curtains or other lights, so as not to disturb or shock your guests when the light is turned on.
  • As you can see, this system is quite simple.
  • There are only a few steps involved in the construction of a DIY SAD light therapy box using CFL bulbs.
  • The final step is positioning your lamps in the box and adding your other lighting fixtures. By using CFL bulbs, this system provides safe, clean light for treating various disorders and ailments, while saving you money by not having to purchase an expensive light therapy machine. With these simple steps, you can get on the way to enjoying better health.


There are all sorts of uses of the lightbox in photography. Apart from shooting products, it’s also an excellent tool for taking still life photos.

So consider building a light box if you want professional-looking results on a budget. Remember that the most important thing is the image, not the tools you used to get it.

With a little ingenuity, you can go far. Even if you have all the money in the world or you normally stay away from DIY photography solutions, you may decide to create your tools to get the results you want.

Want to learn more about useful techniques that will help you take your photography to the next level? Why not check out our course Wow Factor Photography next!


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