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How To Choose A Cold Laser

Cold Laser Specifications

Cold laser manufacturers offer different features, with different power outputs, wavelengths, and frequency capabilities. While these variations provide treatments for a variety of conditions, it can be confusing to understand specific product specifications 

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Cold Laser Supplies is here to provide you with the information you need and answer any questions that arise. We provdie non-biased, accurate information with the specific goal of matching your needs to the appropriate cold laser device. 

Power - measured in milliwatts mW for class 1-3b and watts [W] for class 4 laser systems.
Wavelength - measured in nanometers nm. 
Frequency - measured in Hz lasers can be continuous, pulsed, or super pulsed


Power is an important factor in determining the effectiveness of cold lasers in Photobiomodulation. While some low-cost manufacturers may justify their low power output, current scientific consensus indicates fast pain relief is directly correlated to the amount of power in the device. Cold lasers are categorized into classes (1-4) based on their power and potential for eye injury.

Class 1 & 2

These lasers are used in everyday devices – DVD players or barcode scanners. These lasers have a maximum power of 5mW per diode and are very safe. Outside of super pulse devices, Cold Lasers emitting less than 5mW will generally not be very effective in producing therapeutic results  

Class 3a & 3b

Class 3a lasers are not common or particularly desirable for cold lasers. Class 3b lasers are the gold standard of therapeutic cold lasers. The Class 3b lasers use less than 500mW of continuous output per laser diode. Manufacturers may use multiple 500mW diodes and still qualify as a class 3b device. These devices have a moderate risk of eye injury. 

Class 4

These laser devices feature one or more laser diodes calibrated with a power output more than 500mW. Class 4 lasers typically start at 7000mW (7 Watts) and can range all the way up to 60 Watts. Class 4 lasers are primarily for professional use, and require numerous safety precautions. 


Cold Laser Wavelengths are significant because they determine three things: depth of penetration, absorption of photonic energy, and reduction of inflammation. Photonic energy is best transferred into the tissue in the therapeutic range from 635nm (Red) to 1080nm (Infrared). Each wavelength range has different characteristics. 
  • 450nm – 495nm Blue Light: Antimicrobial, kills bacteria and fungi without damage to the skin
  • 600nm - 660nm Red Light: Best for shallower treatments. This wavelength range is commonly used in cosmetic and skin care lasers to treat skin, wrinkles, wounds, burns, acne, small joints, and laser acupuncture therapy.  
  • 800nm - 860nm Infrared Light: Penetrates deep into the targeted tissue. This wavelength range has the greatest therapeutic effects through damaged cell repair, reduced inflammation, and increased blood circulation around the targeted tissue. 
  • 900nm - 1080nm Infrared Light: Provides even deeper penetration. This wavelength range is popular in super pulse lasers and powerful Class 4 lasers. This is described in greater detail below. 


To understand frequency, it is helpful to imagine Christmas lights. Christmas lights that are "on" represent a continuous wave. Blinking Christmas lights would be similar to a standard pulse. A computer blinking the lights at a billionth of a second would represent super pulsing. 
  • Continuous lasers can deliver a high dose of light into the body very quickly which can produce an analgesic effect that may be preferred with acute pain. However, the body may build up a tolerance to the light, requiring more time between treatments to be effective.
  • Pulsed lasers cut up a continuous wave laser into shorter beams of light. This can extend treatment times but lowers the body's adaptivity to the light. An important benefit when treating chronic health issues. 
  • Super Pulsed lasers can emit class 4 power deep into the body but in extremely short durations.  These lasers are very safe and produce overall therapeutic effects similar to class 3b lasers but without the potential for eye damage. 
"Cold Laser Therapy has experienced dramatic and explosive growth over the last 50 years, becoming a leading non-invasive therapy. This is a highly effective and powerful healing technology used in tens of thousands of clinical settings throughout the world. Uniquely suited to both clinical and individual usage, handheld lasers are an essential therapeutic mainstay over a broad spectrum of treatment applications.

Medical specialties including Sports Medicine, Traumatology, Orthopedics, Dental Medicine, Urology, Gynecology, Physical Therapy, Acupuncture & Veterinary Medicine have all developed highly specialized and unique protocols to utilize cold lasers' unique applications. Almost all professional sports organizations are now using Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), many of them extensively. In the US, at the professional level, every sport across the board has incorporated handheld lasers, both as a tremendously effective tool for reducing severity of and greatly speeding recovery, and in a preventative and performance enhancing capacity."

Jonathan Mather, ND


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