Red and Near-Infrared Device Tests.

Infrared illuminator light

Light Buyer’s Guide. Part 1 – Bulbs.

Light Buyer’s Guide. Part 2 – LEDs.

I have tested some red and infrared devices for power output with the Tenmars TM-206 Solar Power Meter, which will test the power output *only up to 200mW/cm2*. As I get more devices I’ll update the page. LLLT and PBM papers mostly use mW/cm2 as the fluence (AKA energy density) metric, this is milliwatts per centimetre squared. The TM 206 measures in watts per metre squared, conversion to mW/cm2 is done by dividing this reading by 10. Some ambient light is necessary to read the device, so readings were taken at night with a low powered light in the room, just enough to read the screen. I’ve set this up so that the TM 206 reads .01mW/cm2 in position ready for testing and before the source light to be tested is switched on, so that background lighting should be negligible.

Many of these devices, such as the 96 LED IR Illuminators for CCTV cameras have a basic design, with many similar looking units using different components. My assumption is that these devices, while looking quite similar, may give significantly differing power output. Unless you have the same components and power adaptor the likelihood of differing power output is high, though the potential significance of that is difficult to ascertain. You should test everything rather than assume the results here are good metrics for another device.

96 LED 850nm IR Illuminator (Generic)
US 96 LED 850nm IR Illuminator
UK 96 LED 850nm IR Illuminator
Red light therapy

This device is unbranded, I bought it from a Chinese supplier and there was no input wattage rating given. It is infrared at 850nm, there’s a small amount of visible red light from the diodes. There’s a label on the device reading – Model no. 022270, DC 12V/30°. There’s 5mm thick glass on the front which can be removed. I can’t find the device online from the supplier anymore.

The glass can be removed by unscrewing the front panel. These devices generally need a separate power adaptor. There is a light sensor at the top of this unit that must be covered for it to be in use.

I used an Altec Lansing A1768 – AC 240V – 50Hz – 21W – 15V – DC 800mA – 12VA Power Adaptor.

Using the TM206 in the way described above I got the following readings from this device;

95mW/cm2 – Max reading I could get, with glass off with the TM206 touching the diode.

15-75mW/cm2 – With the glass on the unit, sliding the TM206 along the glass parallel to the LED panel readings vary from 15-75mW/cm2.

45mW/cm2 – If I move the TM206 back to the outside lip of the clamp that holds the glass on readings become less variable and average 45mW/cm2.

The 5mm glass with this device will lower power by roughly 20%. A thin white sheet will lower it by 2-3 times that.

14W 225 x LED Red Grow Panel.
Tested device was purchased here – UK.
Similar 225 Red LED 630nm Grow Light Panel 14W Amazon – US

These devices usually come with plugs and are rated 14W. The one I tested does not have the wavelength specified, it is a deep visible red however. These devices are similar to the one in this video.

red light panel

5mw/cm2 – The max reading from these devices is 5mW/cm2 with the TM 206 right on the diode, even a short distance away power drops off very significantly, much more so, relatively speaking than the 96 LED panels, I suspect partly due to the distance between diodes. I don’t think this has much use therapeutically but I have a couple I use at night as light sources.

48 LED IR Illuminator

Infrared light therapy

I bought this from a UK supplier, it is unbranded, heavy for it’s size with a black circuit board densely populated with 850nm LEDs. The small amount of visible red given off by this device is noticeably more intense than that of the 96 LED version. These come with a glass panel on the front, the glass is much thinner than that on the larger units. The front screws off giving access to the light sensor which needs to covered.

US 48 LED IR Illuminator with 12V DC Power Adapter
UK 48 LED IR Illuminator

I expected this device to fall between the two previously tested devices in terms of fluence, however it turned out to be more powerful than the 96 LED device per unit of area.

160mW/cm2 – With the glass removed, placing the TM 206 against the diodes the max reading was 160mW/cm2.
140mW/cm2 – With the cover in place the solar meter will not go flat against the glass, but resting against the outer lip of the front produced a max reading of 140mW/cm2, with consistent readings above 100, except when the meter is in the centre where the light sensor is. This device is 4.5cm internal diameter, giving an area of 16cm squared minus the small dead zone right in the centre where the sensor is placed.

Playing around with these devices the problem I come across is ease of use, the 48 LED device is the most ergonomic, easily fits in your palm and can be attached to objects.

I found it fit well into a clip on my microphone boom stand. I think I had to purchase the clip separately, it will need to be taped on to be fully secure.


4 LED IR Illuminator
Dan Wich sent this device to me to test. He has a great resource on supplements, additives and other things here at toxinless , check it out! This is similar in design to the 48 LED device above, though it is a little larger. These also need a separate power supply. It’s 850nm with 4, relatively high powered LEDs. This maxed out the TM 206 at about 5 inches away, with the glass cover on, the meter maxes out at 200mW/cm2. The beams are narrower than the 48 LED version, that is to say the power is more variable at a few inches distance.

US 4 LED 850nm IR Illuminator
UK 4 LED 850nm IR Illuminator

Infrared illuminator light

+200mW/cm2 – This maxes out the reading on the TM206 at 4-6 inches with the glass cover on, that means it’s above 200mW/cm2 at that distance and significantly more right up against the glass.


Light Buyer’s Guide. Part 1 – Bulbs.

Light Buyer’s Guide. Part 2 – LEDs

*Amazon links are affiliate links, aliexpress is another source of these devices, thought most of the suppliers ship from China which can take a while.*