Choosing the right lighting behind a TV can make all the difference in creating a welcoming and visually appealing home theater. Proper lighting enhances picture quality and reduces eye fatigue while watching TV. The right lighting also improves the perceived contrast ratio and brightness of the TV screen. This guide will suggest several lighting options and tips to consider when installing lighting behind your TV. We'll cover ambient light, accent lighting, and detail the most popular fixture choices. Install your TV lighting properly and you'll enjoy your home entertainment area for years to come.
Ambient vs Directional Lighting
When it comes to lighting behind the TV, there are two main types to consider - ambient and directional. Understanding the differences between these two and the pros and cons of each will help you choose the right lighting setup for your space.
Ambient lighting provides overall, general illumination. It lights up an entire room in a uniform way. With ambient lighting behind the TV, the goal is to provide a soft, even glow across the whole wall. This creates a relaxing atmosphere and prevents the space from feeling too dark. Common ambient lighting options include LED strip lights along the top and bottom of the wall or backlights placed evenly behind the TV.
- Creates a cozy, comfortable environment
- Prevents eye strain by eliminating harsh shadows and dark spots
- Allows you to still see the details of the wall behind the TV
- Can sometimes create glare on the TV screen
- Doesn't highlight or accent the TV itself
Directional lighting, on the other hand, illuminates a specific spot. It is focused and targeted. For behind the TV, directional lighting aims to highlight just the television and immediate surrounding area. Common directional lighting options include focused LED spotlights or directional track lighting.
- Draws attention to and accentuates the TV
- Creates drama and visual interest
- Allows you to highlight specific areas or details
- Can create shadows
- Doesn't provide as cozy of an ambience
When choosing lighting, think about your goals for the space. Ambient lighting works well for a soft, lounge-like environment, while directional lighting is better for a bold, visually striking look.
LED Strip Lights
LED strip lights are a great lighting option to install behind your TV. Here are some tips on using LED strips for TV backlighting:
- Choose a LED strip kit that is specifically designed for TV backlighting. These come with features like dimming, color changing, and easy mounting options.
- Look for a strip with enough lights per meter/foot to provide full coverage behind your TV. Aim for at least 60 LEDs per meter.
- For the best effect, install the LED strip along the top edge of your TV rather than lower down. This creates a nice glow from behind.
- Make sure your LED strip kit comes with a dimmer or remote so you can easily control the brightness. The intensity should be adjustable to suit both dark and bright viewing conditions.
- Consider adding a color-changing LED strip. This allows you to alter the hue to match your room's décor or suit different shows/movies.
- Choose the right length LED strip to fit the width of your TV. Measure first or buy a longer strip you can cut down to size.
- Use mounting clips or adhesive tape suitable for your TV's surface. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
- For the best illumination, position the strip so it emits light upwards against the wall behind the TV.
Installing bias lighting LED strips around your TV creates a stunning effect. With dimming and color control, you can achieve the perfect ambience for movies, shows and gaming.
LED panel backlights are a great option for illuminating the wall behind a TV. LED panels cast a very even glow, so they work well for creating a subtle glow behind the TV. Look for ultra-slim LED panels that can be mounted just about an inch from the wall. This close placement prevents any hotspots from showing up and provides the smoothest, most even lighting effect. Mount the panel to a focal point off center to the TV, then diffuse the light by bouncing it off the wall. A matte finish paint on the wall helps diffuse the light evenly across the entire surface. LED panels come in a wide range of color temperatures, from warm white to daylight, so you can match or contrast with your existing room lighting.
Diffused LED strip lights are another good option for behind TV lighting. The diffuser helps spread the light out, reducing hot spots from the LEDs. Look for wide 60 degree or 120 degree diffusion to spread the light well on the wall. Placing the strip up high, near the ceiling, and pointing it down will help spread the light out even more. Consider wiring up several shorter strips spaced out horizontally to cover a wide area behind a large TV. Like LED panels, make sure to choose a color temperature that aligns with your goals. Install a dimmer switch to control the brightness for daytime versus nighttime viewing.
Uplighting is a great way to create a cozy, ambient glow behind your TV. With uplighting, you place the light source on the floor or mounted to the wall behind the TV, and angle it upwards toward the ceiling. The light reflects off the ceiling and walls, creating an overall diffuse glow in the room.
Floor lamps or wall sconces work well for uplighting. Look for an adjustable lamp head so you can angle and direct the light precisely where you want it. LED bulbs are ideal because they consume less energy and don't generate much heat. Go for a warm white light around 2700-3000K to create a cozy vibe.
Aim the uplight toward the ceiling but not directly at the TV, which could create glare on the screen. Bounce the light off a lightly colored ceiling for the most even, ambient glow. Consider placing uplights in both corners behind the TV to light the area evenly. Use a dimmer to control the brightness as needed.
Uplighting is great for creating a soft, relaxing ambiance perfect for movie nights. The indirect lighting prevents eye strain while watching TV, and sets the mood for a home theater effect.
Suggest using accent lighting like picture lights or wall sconces to highlight art near the TV. Positioning sconces or picture lights above or beside artwork draws attention to it and creates a gallery-like feel. Opt for adjustable sconces that allow you to direct light precisely where you want it. LED bulbs are a good option since they generate little heat that could damage artwork over time.
If you have shelves flanking the TV, install undercabinet lighting to illuminate accessories and objects on display. This creates a subtle glow that doesn't compete with the TV. For a more dramatic look, use directional lights like MR16 halogen lights.
Accent lighting adds visual interest to the space and creates a warm, inviting ambiance. Layering different lighting sources allows you to highlight specific areas and direct the eye where you want it to focus.
When it comes to lighting behind a TV, using your existing ceiling lights is often overlooked. However, with some adjustments, overhead lighting can create the perfect ambient glow behind your TV. Here are some tips for using ceiling lights effectively:
Position your ceiling light centered above where the TV will be mounted. This will cast an even glow behind the entire TV area. If your ceiling light is off-center, the lighting effects may appear uneven or exaggerated on one side.
Install a dimmer switch. This allows you to control the exact brightness level. A soft, subtle glow from above is ideal. Too bright may cause glares on the TV screen.
Use white or natural light bulbs. Avoid any colored bulbs which can cast unnatural hues. Soft white bulbs around 2700-3000K create a warm, inviting ambience.
Add a diffuser shade if the ceiling light causes harsh glares. Diffusers soften the light for a more even distribution of illumination.
Upgrade old recessed ceiling lights to newer models. Newer recessed lighting often provide better directional control and brightness adjustment.
Supplement overhead light with additional accent lighting around the TV to reduce shadows and dark spots.
Test out different dimmer levels during the day and night to find the optimal ceiling light brightness for your space.
Smart lighting is an excellent option for easily controlling the lights behind your TV. Smart bulbs like Philips Hue and smart switches like Lutron Caseta allow you to control your lighting right from your phone or through voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.
With smart bulbs, you can turn lights on and off, dim them, change their color, and create lighting "scenes" to match what's playing on your TV - all without having to get up. This makes it super simple to create the perfect ambiance for movies, sports and gaming.
Smart switches offer similar abilities to control plug-in lights behind your TV using your phone, a remote, or voice commands. Many also have built-in dimming capabilities. Smart switches simply replace a standard light switch to make dumb lights smart.
Setting lighting scenes like "Movie Night" or "Game Day" ahead of time with smart bulbs or switches allows you to instantly transform the lighting behind your TV with the tap of a button or using your voice. It's an effortless way to set the mood and make your home theater experience more immersive.
When selecting the color for lighting behind your TV, you'll want to choose hues that provide ambient illumination without being distracting or causing eye strain. Here are some tips on choosing colors:
Aim for soft, neutral colors in the warm to cool color spectrum. Good options include warm whites around 2700-3000K or cool whites around 4000-5000K. These provide gentle, even lighting that won't compete with the TV picture.
Avoid overly warm tones like orange or yellow, as these can look unnatural. Also avoid bright or saturated colors like red, green, or blue since these will be distracting.
If you want colored lighting, pastel tones work better than primaries. Soft greens, purples, or blues can create a relaxing atmosphere without being overwhelming.
If using RGB LED strip lights, choose colors with low saturation rather than intensely saturated hues. Keeping colors muted prevents them from distracting from the visual focus of the TV.
Consider how the lighting color will interact with the wall color. Choosing a complementary color can make the lighting more subtle and pleasing.
Test different lighting colors and intensities to find the right balance for your space. The goal is to add ambient lighting that flatters the room without competing with the TV's display.
In summary, with the right placement and selection of lighting, you can dramatically enhance the viewing experience in your home theater setup. Carefully positioned LED lighting behind your TV provides accent lighting to make the screen pop while reducing eye strain. Ambient lighting off to the sides creates a relaxing environment and prevents the space from feeling too dark. The key is choosing the right mix of directional and ambient lighting in the proper colors, integrated seamlessly into your space. With smart lighting, you also gain the ability to easily control and adjust the lighting effects. Following the tips in this guide will help you choose lighting that not only enables an immersive viewing experience, but also adds style and visual interest to your room.