A night light is no longer just a simple plug-in used to soothe a child’s fear of the dark. Night lights are small, low-power electric or battery-operated lights that illuminate dark areas of your home. Some add to the decor and work as clocks or sound machines, as well.
There are many reasons to consider different night lights before you buy one. Too much light or the wrong kind of light can negatively affect your sleep. Continue reading to learn the ins and outs of choosing the best night light for your needs—and don’t miss our roundup of top-favorite picks, below!
- BEST OVERALL: MAZ-TEK Plug in Led Night Light
- RUNNER UP: Mr. Beams LED Stick-Anywhere Nightlight
- BEST UPGRADE: Hatch Rest+ Baby Sound Machine
- BEST FOR HALLWAYS: SYCEES Plug-in LED Night Light
- BEST FOR BATHROOMS: Ailun Toilet Night Light
Types of Night Lights
You may think of a night light as little more than a low-wattage, plug-in bulb in a plastic casing, but there are many different types available today. The best night lights fall into the four basic categories explained below.
Plug-in lights are what most people think of when they hear the term “night light.” They’re usually powered by a 120-volt electrical outlet and typically feature a flat or low-profile design, so they do not protrude far from the wall.
Plug-in lights come in various shapes, sizes, and patterns. They produce soft light that emanates around the outlet and sometimes a few feet beyond. They are typically the least expensive type of night lights.
A projector night light displays images on a room’s walls or ceilings. Night light projectors are usually placed in bedrooms to create soothing and calming visual environments to help people relax and lull them to sleep.
Project lights are typically dome-shaped. You would usually place one on a nightstand or desk to project the patterned lights overhead. Some projector night lights also play music at timed intervals.
Tabletop night lights rest on flat surfaces, typically near a bed. They may look like standalone lights or tabletop lamps but often have added functions, including clocks, music players, and white noise functions.
Tabletop lights run the gamut of style and options. They can be battery operated or powered by 120-volt electrical outlets. You can control some with smartphone applications.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Night Light
Night lights have come a long way since their humble, plug-in-the-wall beginnings. When you select the best night light for your home, it’s important to consider efficiency and aesthetics. Choose one that matches your needs.
Night lights use a variety of bulb varieties, including LED, incandescent, halogen, and CFL. LED lights are the go-to choice for night lights because they are energy efficient and remain cool to the touch. LED lights are generally more expensive than other bulbs, but they use considerably less energy and last 40 times longer than the average incandescent bulb.
Design and Appearance
There are many night light styles from which to choose, including modern, contemporary, traditional, artistic, and whimsical. You should select a style that works with your decor and lighting needs, but there are factors you should consider.
A flat-profile night light is a top choice for high traffic areas such as hallways and entryways. Hall night lights are meant to be utilitarian and should blend in with the wall.
If you are buying a night light for a child’s bedroom, consider ones with whimsical styles such as ducks or balloons. The night light you buy for your bedroom can include an alarm clock, music player, sound machine, or various light settings. Choose one that suits your needs.
Child- and Pet-Friendliness
You should choose an LED night light for a home with a pet, child, or older adult because it stays cool and emits plenty of light. You’ll want to make sure the night light is shatterproof and does not contain small parts that can be swallowed by a child or pet.
If you are a smart tech fan, there are plenty of night lights with smart feature options. Smart night lights can be controlled with a smartphone app, allowing you to choose various brightnesses, colors, alarms, and sounds. Some smart night lights have motion sensors, and others respond to voice commands.
Our Top Picks
To make your search for easier, this guide categorizes the best night lights based on overall energy use, design, safety needs, and smart features.
The auto dusk-to-dawn sensor in the MAZ-TEK night light is one of its most highly rated features. The light turns on at night, or when ambient lighting decreases, so you needn’t remember to turn on the light before bedtime. They’re also great for safety when you’re away from home.
Each light in the pack of two weighs only 3.88 ounces and measures just 2.76 inches by 0.7 inches by 2.79 inches. That’s about the width of an average wall outlet and only half as high, so it won’t get in your way when you plug it in. The LED bulb with a 50,000-hour lifespan stays cool to the touch so it won’t burn your pets, family, or friends if they touch it.
- Turns on automatically in dark rooms
- Slim; won’t block other outlets
- Auto-sensor helps save energy
- LED light stays cool to the touch
- Battery lasts about 50,000 hours
- Available only in a set of two
From Mr. Beams, this night is designed to produce a year’s worth of amber light on one set of batteries. The amber color is conducive to sleep, so it won’t interrupt others’ rest while being bright enough to allow safe navigation of dark areas. The light is motion-activated from 15 feet away and illuminates 10 square feet. It automatically shuts off after 30 seconds of no motion.
This light has LED bulbs so won’t burn kids, children, and others who might touch it. Four AA batteries power the Mr. Beams night light, so it’s ideal for RVs, dorm rooms, cabins, and homes, especially those with a shortage of outlets. You can install it in about five minutes with the included screws and double-sided adhesive.
- Motion sensing; light comes on only when needed
- Runs on batteries and can be used without outlets
- Amber-colored light conducive to sleep
- LED lights feel cool to the touch and won’t burn
- Runs for up to 1 year on one set of batteries
- Less bright than other night lights
This is a portable night light, sound machine, and alarm clock all in one. There’s even a two-way audio monitor that allows you to listen and talk to your child from another room. Powered by a lithium-ion battery (included), the night light emits a soothing glow that changes colors. Weighing just over one pound and measuring 7.6 inches by 5.3 inches by 4.9 inches, this device won’t take up much space and can be positioned on a nightstand, shelf, or tabletop.
- Functions as a sound machine and alarm clock
- Soothing color changes
- Two-way audio
- Runs on lithium-ion battery (no cord or plug)
The SYCEES plug-in night light has a built-in smart sensor that automatically lights up only when it senses an area is dark. The resulting light is bright enough that you can see where you’re going, but not so bright as to awaken others. These lights are sold in packs of six so you can use them throughout your home.
These SYCEES lights use LED bulbs, so they are safe for pets, kids, and anyone else who comes into contact with them. Each of these lights measures just 2.17 inches by 2.17 inches by 1.61 inches and weighs under one ounce, so they only cover one plug on a standard outlet plate.
SYCEES plug-ins are a great fit for homes, RVs, dorm rooms, or anywhere else you may need a night light. They’re also small enough to take with you while traveling.
- Motion sensing saves energy
- Small enough for travel
- Set of six offers great value
Rather than fumble around in a dark bathroom, clip this specially designed night light by Ailun to the side of your toilet bowl. The soft neck conforms to the bowl for a secure hold, while the light works automatically when it detects movement in the bathroom, remaining on for two minutes. You can select the light to display one of eight colors—pink, dark blue, red, purple, magenta, orange, light blue, or green—or rotate through each of them.
The Ailun requires AAA batteries and you can use almost any household cleaner to keep it sanitary. The light measures just 1.18 inches by 1.57 inches by 2.36 inches and weighs 2.12 ounces, so guests will likely not notice it except at night.
- Designed specifically for bathrooms
- Toilet bowl clip design saves space
- Runs on batteries, so no outlet is needed
- Affordable set of two
- Clip may fall off some toilet rim sizes
Night lights add safety and even comfort for children and adults, and the MAZ-TEK plug-in light comes in a pack of two cool white LEDs that turn on automatically when a room gets dark. Anyone can benefit from the features of the Hatch Rest+ Baby Sound Machine, especially young kids and the elderly. This night light offers a sound machine, alarm clock, and two-way audio all wrapped up in a soothing night light.
How We Chose the Best Night Lights
Night lights now offer more than just a plug-in plastic device with a big bulb. Most now use LED lights, which burn cooler and more efficiently. That’s important for homes with children and pets. We also looked at how bright a light is to make sure users can find their way in the dark, and we considered the design and appearance.
Type of light matters, too. Plug-in flat-profile night lights make the most sense in high-traffic areas, and tabletop lights can add other features on a bedside table. With battery operation and small size, portable night light lights are perfect to take along while traveling. Smart night lights offer other features and can be controlled with a smartphone app, which is a bonus for flexible use.
FAQs About Your New Night Light
Here are some common questions and answers when it comes to using night lights in the home.
What color night light is the best?
Red- and amber-hued lights do not affect your circadian rhythm, making them the best colors to use in areas where people sleep.
Is it safe to leave a night light on all night?
Night lights are generally very safe to leave on all night as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take a few sensible precautions. LED lights are cool to the touch, so you needn’t worry about kids or pets burning themselves on them.
Can night lights cause fires?
Generally no, but defective night lights can cause fires, burns, and electrocutions.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila editorial team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Debbie Wolfe is an author and freelance writer in a variety of niches. She specializes in home, garden, DIY, and lifestyle topics. Debbie has written for leading online media outlets and online retailers. Her book, Do-It-Yourself Garden Projects and Crafts, from Skyhorse Publishing, features a variety of practical DIY projects to beautify your garden and home. Debbie holds a degree in Creative Writing and Earth Science from Northland College. When not writing, Debbie spends her time reading, gardening, cooking, and keeping up with her active family in the deep South.