The Best Pulsed Red Light Therapy Panels on Alibaba: The Next Trend in Photobiomodulation?
The next generation of red light therapy panels have arrived!
The signature feature of the next-next-gen red light panels is the inclusion of pulsing!
And handles on the back apparently.
As predicted in our previous blog on pulsing, the advent of Joovv incorporating a pulsed mode in their panels has led the way for copycat brands to start incorporating the same features.
The shameless "Equate" or "Kirkland" generic type brands of this industry like RedTherapyCo (RedRush) and infraredi are the first major brands to add pulsed features to their panels, and they will be generous enough to offer it at a lower price than Joovv. We expect Mito Red Light to be quick to follow.
Recently, we have found many Alibaba manufacturers are also adding pulsed features to their next-generation panels, which will soon trickle down to many more of the generic re-branders and resellers of panels.
We will review several of these next-generation pulsed panels from Alibaba later in this blog.
But first, a rant.
Slow Motion Pseudoscience:
Several years from now, when most red light panel companies are offering pulsed modes, the average consumer will naturally assume that pulsing is the standard for red light therapy.
Similar to how people falsely assumed that standing 6 inches away is the gold standard, or that 660nm+850nm are the best wavelengths, or that >100mW/cm^2 at 6 inches away is a good idea - the way things are proven in this industry is if everyone just keeps repeating the same thing.
Regardless of what the science actually says, or what the products actually deliver. This industry is trapped in a painful cycle of not following the science, but instead just copying each other and leveraging marketing fallacies.
So we can stop and appreciate that we are witnessing a slow-motion example of how features become "standard" in this industry regardless of science.
False Claims for Pulsed Panels:
Companies like Joovv are again reaching deep to extract studies on pulsing with completely different devices than their own - often lasers, LED pads, or cluster units held in contact with the skin.
Joovv has branded their pulsed mode as Recovery+. But remember we live in a society where a Footlong Subway Sandwich isn't actually a foot long, and an Oreo Double-Stuf cookie doesn't actually have double the stuff.
Those are just trademark names with no connection to the product they deliver - just like how Joovv can name something Recovery+ but not actually prove that it delivers superior recovery. In fact it could have less benefits.
Of course companies like Subway and Nabisco had to pay a lot for lawyer fees to defend their misleading naming convention. But Joovv's owners coming from the pharmaceutical industry know that we live in a society where paying fines and fees for false adverting are just a normal line item on the profit sheet.
Dosing Parameters Still Matter:
The dead giveaway that a company is using pseudoscience to market pulsed panels is that they completely forget about the dosing parameters.
They will make claims about the pulsed light entirely on the Hz alone, but never mention the intensity or exposure time it takes to reach a beneficial dose.
The successful studies on pulsing will increase the peak intensity dramatically to offset the loss of power and penetration that pulsed modes inherently cause.
The peak power is not increased with pulsed LED panels, so randomly pulsing panels at any Hz will mostly work as a detriment to the dosing strategy.
For example, Joovv panel pulses only the NIR LEDs leaving the Red mode on as continuous. If we assume the duty cycle is 50%, that means the average power output in the Recovery+ mode is expected to be 75% of its total output, compared to the normal continuous mode.
In panels that pulse both Red and NIR, or if a user only uses the NIR of a Joovv in pulse mode, then the average power is expected to be only 50% of its potential power output.
The guidelines for companies selling pulsed panels would logically be to increase the exposure time to offset the loss of average intensity in the pulsed modes.
Which of course is contradicting the years of claims that more power equals less exposure time. Not that they ever proved the implied claim that "more power is better" anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter if they contradict an old claim that was never proven, with a new claim that will never be proven.
Without increasing the peak intensity or exposure time, what is called Recovery+ pulse mode would theoretically provide less benefits according to the science, not more.
Less Intensity is the Real Benefit of Pulsing:
Pulsing has traditionally been used to reduce the heat effects from higher-powered lasers and devices - which of course is mostly irrelevant to red light panels that we mentioned.
However, with many brands have been recklessly increasing intensity of their panels and more consumers are reporting skin redness, sunburn type effects, erthyma, skin burn sensations, skin peeling, pigmentation issues, "herx" reactions, and incredible warmth - then perhaps now pulsing can help reduce the detrimental effects of the high intensity panels.
If pulsed panels turn out to be more beneficial, it will be a testament to what we have been saying all along - that using less intensity is more beneficial than having "the highest intensity".
Mechanism for Combined Pulsed Light and Continuous:
One study we stumbled across did note that they were intentionally using combined continuous and pulsed wavelengths in an effort to activate different cellular mechanisms.  Of course this study was with 808nm and 905nm light, not the cheap 660nm and 850nm LEDs that Joovv prefers.
This would be a good study to highlight a rationale for using both continuous and pulsed light in red light therapy panels, but instead Joovv lazily redefined the word "quench" to suit their marketing strategy.
Detrimental Effects of Pulsed Red Light Panels:
Those who have pre-existing photosensitive epilepsy would need to exercise caution and possibly avoid pulsed red light therapy products. As well there may be more likelihood of other photophobia, photosensitivity, and flicker-effects like headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and other mood issues.
We note that Joovv, RedRush, and RedDot have all decided to only pulse the Near-Infrared (invisible) wavelengths to perhaps lessen the stress and discomfort that would be put on the eyes and the brain.
Did these companies really figure out on their own to only pulse the NIR for safety? Or were they mindlessly copying Joovv? Could there be some other reason they only pulse the NIR, hopefully something that was clinically studied?
Brainwave Entrainment of Pulsed Red Light Panels:
The brain has been found to operate as several different "frequencies" named Alpha, Beta, Delta, Theta that corresponds to certain Hz that can be measured via EEG. If the brain is suffering from some disruption, then we can play god and force our brain into different states with modulating frequencies of light, sound, electrical stimulation, or PEMFs.
Many studies have used visible light flashing at 10Hz or 40Hz to induce brainwave entertainment. If red light therapy panels are only pulsing Near-Infrared, then they are sacrificing the most effective form of brainwave entertainment for safety.  
The GembaRed Pulse Frequency:
Amazingly consumers still get good results from red light therapy panels. Not "because of" the diligent evidence-based products and protocols, but "in spite of" their blatant manipulation of science and falsely representing their products.
One author notes that the selection of pulse frequencies seem mostly arbitrary. If the goal is to reduce heating by cutting the average intensity in half, this can be achieved with any random Hz frequency at a 50% duty cycle.
We could create the GembaRed Pulse frequency of 1234 Hz (also the combination for my luggage), and start experimenting on people by making outrageous claims for it. Some of those people will get good results, and we will start cherry-picking those testimonials to reinforce our magical healing protocol.
Pulsed-Light Induced Hallucinations:
If you can obtain a red light therapy panel that pulses the red light, or any pulsed visible light product - you can prepare yourself for a psychedelic experience.
Yes, it is well-studied that flickering or pulsed light induces hallucinations. Not like a scary drug-induced situation, but the user will observe geometric patterns that are seemingly impossible.
My earliest experience with pulsed light several years ago - I noticed these unique geometric patterns with a pulsed 10Hz red light with my eyes closed.
Like any good engineer, after making an observation - I proceeded to research this phenomenon. I was amazed to find that many studies even had pictures and illustrations of the hallucinations that I was seeing.
Studies find that closed-eyes exposed to pulsing or flicker between 5Hz to 30Hz will evoke visual hallucinations. They note the frequency closest to the Alpha frequency (10Hz) is the most likely to induce the hallucinations, which confirms my experience. The researchers even liken it to an Altered State of Consciousness.
Just search for terms like "flicker hallucinations" on Pubmed and you get 37 results, with many more studies in the references.
Here are a few more:
It might be important for sellers of pulsed red light therapy to educate themselves on these flicker effects and hallucination phenomenon, so they can pretend like they are experts when their customers ask about their strange experiences.
Perhaps people who are susceptible to the influences of mind-altering brain-states would want to exercise caution if inducing hallucinations from pulsed light.
The SGrow and Mito Red Light Connection:
I was told that I am blacklisted from SGrow after my YouTube review where I point out how similar SGrow panels are to Mito Red Light.
Which didn't deter me from obtaining the new SGrow A1200 for this review, but only confirmed that SGrow and Mito Red Light are likely working together.
With SGrow offering the new A1200 and E2400 series panels with pulse and dimming features, we expect that Mito Red Light will soon release panels with similar features.
But hopefully they can correct the issues we found in the A1200 panel before it is released.
Alibaba Pulsed Red Light Panels Review:
Lets take a look at these panels! We selected panels that would be similar size range to keep the comparison consistent. They are all similar to the standard "body-light" size panels of about 3 feet tall (36 inches, 900mm) and about 9 to 12 inches wide.
Generally the larger or smaller model of the same "series" from these suppliers will be proportionally more or less powerful. So feel free to decide which size fits best for you.
Price is tough while shopping on Alibaba, since you have to prepare yourself to incur the high shipping costs. I usually paid between $150 to $180 for the shipping cost of each panel on express shipping.
These are the prices that I paid for just the panels:
Red Dot RD1500W: $399
SGrow A1200: $259
Idea Light RL300MAX: $350
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: $448.9
SAIDI BS1000: $295
Red Dot RD1500W: Red and NIR independantly, 0% to 100%
SGrow A1200: Red & NIR together, 25%, 50%, 75%
Idea Light RL300MAX: Red & NIR together - 1% to 100%
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: No
SAIDI BS1000: No
Red Dot RD1500W: NIR Only - 1 Hz to 20 Hz
SGrow A1200: Both Red & NIR - 10 Hz, 20Hz, and 40 Hz
Idea Light RL300MAX: Both Red & NIR - 1 Hz to 9999 Hz
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: Both Red & NIR - 73 Hz, 146 Hz, 293 Hz, 587 Hz (Nogier frequencies only - I told them to add normal science based frequencies in the future)
SAIDI BS1000: Both Red & NIR - 1 Hz to 9999 Hz
I usually ask manufacturers for their "stock" or "standard" wavelengths for these reviews, but they could always have different variants or you can ask them for custom wavelengths.
Red Dot RD1500W: 660nm & 850nm
SGrow A1200: 660nm & 850nm
Idea Light RL300MAX: 660nm & 850nm
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: 630, 660, 830, & 850
SAIDI BS1000: 660nm & 850nm
Intensity at 12 inches away (continous mode):
Measured with our new prototype PBM Meter that is NIST calibrated specifically for the Red Light Therapy wavelength range.
We took the measurements at 12 inches away because they are all very high intensity and narrow beam angles.
Red Dot RD1500W: 62 mW/cm^2
SGrow A1200: 55 mW/cm^2
Idea Light RL300MAX: 64 mW/cm^2
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: 44 mW/cm^2
SAIDI BS1000: 73 mW/cm^2
EMF at 12 inches away:
Measured the Milligauss with an AlphaLabs UHS2 3-axis meter.
Red Dot RD1500W: 1.6 mG
SGrow A1200: 1.0 mG
Idea Light RL300MAX: 0.6 mG
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: 0.5 mG
SAIDI BS1000: 0.9 mG
*the Ambient mG reading was 0.38 with all of the devices off.
We do the flicker percentage measurement with the Radex Lupin.
Red Dot RD1500W: 1.1 %
SGrow A1200: 0.5 %
Idea Light RL300MAX: 0.6 %
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: 3.1 %
SAIDI BS1000: 0.9 %
Measurements during Pulsed Mode:
As if measuring all of those parameters wasn't exausting enough, as we mentioned most companies selling pulsed panels are conveniently omitting re-taking all of these measurements again during the pulsed mode. Which is a tell-tale sign they are only interested in pseudoscience marketing tactics.
Are they trying to hide that the power and intensity dramatically decreases while pulsing? Yes.
Should we be concerned that the EMF potentially increases during pulsed mode due to the fancy electronics? Yes.
We know the flicker measurements will be expected to be 100%, since pulsing is just a fancy form of flicker especially in LED panels. Or we should say "temporal modulation of light" as the experts we have consulted call it.
Flicker and EMF: We know that flicker will be high since that is the point of pulsing. We were surprised to note that the magnetic field measurement actually decreases most of the time during pulsing mode. Which perhaps is due to the drop in power from the panels.
Verified Hz Frequencies:
Just like companies should verify the intensity and wavelength of their panels with 3rd party measurements. They should at least verify if the Hz is correct.
When you set the panel to 40 Hz, then we should be able to measure a 40 Hz output.
This seems painfully obvious that companies should check this and deliver what the setting says, but remember we are in an industry where most companies still incorrectly advertise the most important parameter of red light therapy, intensity.
We can measure the Hz with our Radex Lupin meter connected to the PC software.
Red Dot RD1500W: Hz matches the setting
SGrow A1200: Hz does not match. 10Hz = 8Hz, 20Hz = 15 Hz, and 40Hz = 21 Hz. Watch the video.
Idea Light RL300MAX: Hz matches the setting up to 70, then at 71Hz and above switches to continuous output, also the Duty Cycle is super short which will be important later. Watch the video.
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: Hz does not match. Watch the video
SAIDI BS1000: Hz matches the setting up to about 400Hz, then above switches to continuous mode (or maybe that is a limitation of the flicker meter).
So we can see the disturbing results from the SGrow and Sunglor. If we wanted special benefits from 10Hz, 40Hz, or Nogier frequencies but the panel doesn't actually deliver the proper frequency output - then obviously you may not get the intended benefits. Especially for brainwave entrainment that can be a very bad thing.
The Idea Light panel does output the correct settings (only at the lower frequencies), but the duty cycle is very short. So you don't get the reduced heating or reduced average intensity like is expected from pulsed mode.
So even if you get a "pulsed" panel, the consumer needs to demand professional verification that they are even getting the Hz output that is supposedly programmed into the panel.
Consumed Power (Continuous vs Pulsed):
The consumed power is the electrical watts consumed by the panel. Sometimes called the "actual watts", where most of the panels will claim a number like 1000W, 1200W, or 1500W as a mostly meaningless "rated watts". Read our other blog about Watts for more info.
Red Dot RD1500W: 526 W Continuous, 427 W Pulsed - 19% Reduction
SGrow A1200: 401 W Continuous, 209 W Pulsed - 48% Reduction
Idea Light RL300MAX: 509 W Continuous, 466 W Pulsed - 8.4% Reduction
Sunglor SG-AL-1000: 396 W Continuous, 222 W - 44% Reduction
SAIDI BS1000: 365 W Continuous, 336 W - 7.9% Reduction
The consumed watts is usually directly proportional to the optical watts output, minus some inefficiencies and power to the fans and controller.
We can see the Red Dot, SGrow, and Sunglor behave nearly as expected. The Red Dot only pulsing the NIR mode means we expect close to 25% reduction and we observed 19%. The SGrow and Sunglor pulsing both Red&NIR we observed nearly 50% reduction, and the difference is likely due to those panels still using the same watts to power the fans and controller.
The Idea Light and SAIDI had barely any power reduction at only about 8% when we should expect 50%. We noted in the video about Idea Light that the duty cycle is very small, not the normal 50% duty cycle like most pulsed devices do. The SAIDI also seems to have a strange pulse waveform that could explain the lack of change.
So even when panels behave predictably, it gets very complex to understand if we should increase the exposure time to offset the loss of power. If panels use strange duty cycles or pulse structure, then how do we know if that is a good or bad thing?
When we see in a few years that many red light panels are offering pulsed modes, the average consumer will take for granted that the science has been settled. Like most things in Red Light Therapy, the science is not settled about anything like wavelengths or dosing or pulsing, nor do we expect it to be anytime soon.
The Pulsed LED Panels would theoretically need to increase the exposure time to offeset the loss of average intensity and power. Otherwise we could expect getting less benefits if they are dosed incorrectly.
Ultimately if pulsing is just a fancy way to reduce the intensity, then that will also serve to improve the benefits of Red Light Panels, which were getting too intense anyway.
Pulsing visible light is a double edged sword. It can offer superior brainwave entrainment and some interesting hallicination experiences. However, care must be taken by flicker sensitive people and those at risk of photosensitive epilepsy.
Reputable brands (if they exist) would need to do additional 3rd party testing, quality controls, and additional transparancy and education to properly implement pulsing. They could claim to deliver certain Hz, but the panel might not actually output it correctly.
Hopefully by reviewing these panels, educating the consumer, and providing feedback to the Alibaba suppliers early on, then we can attempt to improve the quality of the devices that are inevitbly re-branded by non-experts.
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