Red Light Therapy Pads Versus Panels

Feb 25, 2021 | Laurie Velger

Medically reviewed by Karen Wolters, RN and Joanna Fearnley, LPN

264 Red Light Therapy Pad on the Hands

As Red Light Therapy becomes more popular worldwide, new light therapy devices keep popping up everywhere.  Even mainstream internet shopping sites like and offer pages and pages of products.  Countless light treatment lamps, wands, masks, slippers, “gloves,” and even near-infrared light bulbs are now being produced by a multitude of manufacturers.

However, if you want to own a high quality, medical grade light therapy device that is durable and will emit light in the correct wavelengths and deliver the right amount of power density to actually be effective for pain relief and increased circulation, then diligent research will most likely lead you to either NIR Therapy pad systems or panel systems.  So which should you choose?

Basic Similarities and Differences

Pads and panel systems are similar in that both are based on the exact same science; both systems use wavelengths of red light, infrared light, and sometimes blue light; the recommended time period for treatment sessions is often the same (twenty minutes); and both systems require the light to reach bare skin in order to be effective, because light waves cannot fully penetrate through clothing. The major difference between pads and panels is that pads treat targeted areas of the body, while panels transmit light to a much wider area.

A Light Shower Versus Targeted Treatment

Basically, sitting in front of a panel system is like receiving a shower of light. And, just like shower, having exposed skin is necessary. Therefore, if you want the light waves to penetrate as much of the front or the back of your body as possible, then you have to remain unclothed during treatment. Red light therapy pads, however, can be placed under clothing to directly touch the skin, allowing for deeper penetration and greater absorption of light waves.

Advantages of Red Light Therapy Pads Vs Panels

Pads Panels
1. Pads can be easily slipped under clothing. Skin must be bare, so full body coverage requires being in the buff for 20 minutes.
2. Pads are placed directly on skin for more focused, deep penetration. Recommended distance varies, but users must stand or sit anywhere from 6” to 14” away from most panels. Some manufacturers even recommend being 16” to 24” away from certain devices.
3. Eyes can be kept open, so user can read, watch television, work on a computer. Goggles or sunglasses to protect the eyes are usually required.
4. Pads can be wrapped around joints and limbs so that the front and back of the area can be treated simultaneously. Since body must face the panel, only one side of the body can be treated at a time.
5. Pad systems are lightweight and can easily be moved from room to room. Large or multi-panel systems can be heavy, requiring additional purchase of a stand or mobile rack.
6. Pads are flexible, portable, and easy to pack for traveling. Panels can be inconvenient or impossible to take when traveling.
7. Foot & ankle “boots” cradle foot & ankle or foot & calf for targeted treatment. Configurations for specific issues are not available.


The Bottom Line

Pad systems offer many advantages over panel systems. The reason most people invest in a light therapy system is to help relieve the pain associated with acute or long-standing issues such as joint and back pain, muscle spasms, arthritis, and foot and leg pain. So having flexible pads that touch the skin to target the light into specific areas where relief is needed should be more efficient and effective than having light dispersed to a larger area at least 6” to 14” from the body.  Some manufacturers even recommend being 16” to 24” away from certain devices.

180 Pad on the Stomach

HealthLight’s Medical Devices

If you wish to experience the benefits of having your own light therapy pad system, HealthLight’s Express At-Home Line with conveniently attached controllers and single button operation is perfect for in-home use:

HealthLight’s Large 264 Pad is helpful for treating shoulder, upper and/or lower back, hip, and knee pain.  HealthLight’s Long 180 Pad can wrap around joints and limbs.  HealthLight’s Small 90 Pad is beneficial for alleviating neck pain and arthritis pain in the hand.  HealthLight also makes “boot” systems specifically designed for treating foot pain — HealthLight’s 122 Foot & Ankle Pad and 131 Foot & Calf Pad both come in one or two boot packages.

HealthLight’s Red Light Therapy systems are considered to be Class II medical devices, and have received FDA clearance for relieving pain, increasing circulation, relaxing muscles, relieving muscle spasms, and alleviating the aches and stiffness caused by arthritis.  Treat yourself to the dependable pain relief provided by a HealthLight NIR Therapy system today!


Start Your Pain Relief Journey Today

Contact us now and speak with a light therapy expert. They are here to help you find relief at home with soothing red light therapy.

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