Home Theater Lighting Design Tips
Are you a film nut finally converting your spare room into a home theater? Do you already have a home theater, but hate the glare that never seems to go away? We understand the need to create the perfect cinematic atmosphere, and we’re here to help. Having the right ambient light levels and adding backlighting are two quick and easy ways to improve the lighting in your home theater.
One of the best and most popular ways to light home theaters is ambient lighting. Using ambient lighting is a sure-fire way to cater to your inner film critic. The sconce is a classic movie house inspired fixture. The great thing about these is any sconce that fits with your decor will work. Cove lighting directs light up to create a subtle, low-profile illumination that won’t cause glares on television screens or projections. Tape light, also known as strip light, is a popular option, with special angled channels allowing you to project light out further than traditional application. You can learn how to install cove lighting in one of our earlier blog posts. Floor lighting is another movie house inspired lighting option. Use LED strip lights around baseboards to provide lighted pathways that aren’t too bright and won’t distract from the film.
One thing to remember for the primary light source in your home theater, dimmers are your best friend. In addition to dimming the lights during the movie, you’ll want brighter illumination to clean up any spilled candy and popcorn. When choosing the light bulbs for home theater fixtures, be sure to get ones that are dimmable down to 1%. That way you’ll have complete control of the room’s brightness. Some LEDs only dim down to 10%, which is enough for most general lighting applications, but for your home theater, you’ll appreciate that extra darkness.
How Backlighting Your TV Reduces Eye Strain and Boosts Picture Contrast
A trend that has recently become very popular is adding backlighting behind your television. This technique is called “bias lighting,” and it helps in two ways: reducing eye strain and boosting picture contrast. Everyone knows, or at least should know, that staring at a bright screen in a dark room causes eye strain. This is because our pupils dilate based on the total lighting in a room instead of the brightest light source. Since bias lighting is behind your TV, it brings the overall average up without casting a glare on the screen.
Bias lighting also creates an effect called “simultaneous contrast illusion.” The image below is a good example, demonstrating how the same color (the strip of gray in the middle, I promise it is one color) can look more washed out against a darker background versus a lighter one. The same concept works with your TV screen. Backlighting can increase the color intensity and black contrast of what we’re watching.
While you may be ready to run out and buy your favorite colored tape light or add your team colors behind your flatscreen, the best light to use is white, preferably around 4000-5000K. Using other colors may cause color distortion. There are many different ways to backlight your television. From LED strips lights mounted on the back of the TV to placing an unshaded lamp behind it, there’s a method that can work for your setup.