Must-Have Lights for Your College Dorm Room

Are lights on your dorm room checklist? They should be.

College dorm rooms are not known for their style and charm. They serve but one purpose for the budding student – a place to study and (occasionally) sleep. Equipped with little more than a bed and a desk, an empty dorm room requires some essential supplies. I’ve put together a list of several different types of lights — some fun and some functional — that need to make it on your back-to-school checklist.

Night Lights

The ever-popular Motion Sensor Stick Anywhere Night Lights are a dorm room must. They are wireless night lights. They detect motion. And you can stick them anywhere. I know, we really got creative with the name, but the fact remains that these little powerhouses of light are one of our best sellers for a reason – they can be used for so many things. Put them inside your closet or wardrobe, by the door, or even inside a desk drawer. They light up about 10 square feet and turn off after 20 seconds of no activity.

Wireless motion sensor night lights shown on stairs, bookcases and as decoration.
Wireless Motion Sensor Stick Anywhere Night Lights

Safety Lights

A glowing keychain fob is perfect to clip on a backpack or toss in a purse, and since it’s always emitting a low-level of light, it’s easy to spot. When you need more light, just push the button on the fob to increase the brightness.

The Skyline 360° by Revolights technically takes you out of the dorm room, but it was a product too cool not to mention. According to the smart bike light’s website, the “intelligent rings of powerful LEDs synchronize to your speed to provide unprecedented rear and side visibility.” It comes with a hefty price tag (currently about $200) but there are less expensive options like this $25 rear bike light from REI that will at least make you more visible when cycling across campus at night, just not nearly as awesome as synchronized LED bike tires.

Cyclist demonstrates the Skyline LED bicycle tire lights
Skyline LED bicycle lights by Revolight

Reading Lights

Reading lights make studying in bed much easier (and less annoying to your roommate). Look for battery operated or plug-in reading lights since you obviously won’t be hard-wiring your dorm room. LED reading lights are highly recommended since they don’t get as hot as incandescent bulbs, and they’ll last a lot longer. (Tip: If you don’t want to drill into the wall or bed, use heavy-duty mounting tape that supports the weight of the light.)

Desk Lamps 

Dorm rooms aren’t famous for their quality lighting, so a bright adjustable desk lamp is a must. Our favorites are LED lamps that have flexible necks for directing the light where you need it.

String Lights

Small lights along a string of coated wire have decked out college dorm rooms for decades. String lights are an inexpensive way to transform a boring room into something funky, whimsical, modern, or all of the above. For a list of 27 unique things to do with string lights (like using them to hang photos of family and friends), check out this blog post.


This little Dino Pet by BioPop is aglow with life. Literally. Though these living organisms would probably slip past any ‘No Pet’ policy.

“Far more than a toy, the Dino Pet is a contemporary living art piece, introductory pet, biological magic trick, conversation starter and science lesson that instills a sense of wonder in people of all ages.” –

And thanks to the wonder of bioluminescence, it also made my list of college dorm room must-have lights:

Microscopic sea life glowing inside the Dino Pet at night via bioluminescence.
Inside the Dino Pet, dinoflagellates (microscopic sea life) photosynthesize during the day and glow brilliantly when you play with them at night.

Renee Carlson

Renee specializes in digital marketing & content development for Pegasus Lighting. When she's not blogging about all-things-light, you’ll find her nestled in the ‘burbs of Raleigh with her husband & three active boys, getting lost in her Kindle, tackling a long list of home improvement projects, or cheering on the Carolina Panthers.