What’s the Difference Between Back-lit panel light and the Edge-lit panel light


Lighting is one of the most critical considerations for every setup, and each kind of lighting has its functions, purpose, and pros and cons. When it comes to looking at the panel lights, there are different kinds to look at.

The back-lit and edge-lit panel lights are taking a significant place in the list of LED lighting fixtures used for residential and commercial applications.

You must be wondering if both are panel lights and what could be a differentiating factor. In this case, you must read the article below, and you will learn details about these panel lights and the differences they have.

What is Panel Light?

Panel lights are lighting fixtures that represent a modern lighting solution. These lights are designed for indoor use. The panel lights feature a flat and slim design comprising a thin panel with either a square or a rectangular shape.

There are multiple applications for these panel lights, and they are most commonly used in residential and commercial applications because they are highly energy efficient and have a brilliant look.

The panel lights consist of an LED array responsible for providing illumination. LED technology has multiple advantages over traditional lighting methods like incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. These lights need minimal maintenance and have a durable life.

These panel lights are constructed with the help of a frame which is usually made using either aluminum or any other material which is light in weight and comprises a plate that has a light; this light could be an LED array.

The main advantages of panel lights are that they are very easy to install and can be fixed over the ceilings or mounted on the walls; they can also be suspended with wire chains or ropes. Hence, they can be used in multiple lighting designs and arrangements.

There are different kinds of panel lights, like back-lit and edge-lit panel lights; you will learn about these lights below, followed by their differences.

Definition of Back-lit Panel Light

A back-lit panel light is an LED light that uses the technique of backlighting to produce illumination. These lights have a grid of LEDs behind the light guide plate, which offers a uniform distribution of light throughout the panel.

Construction and Function of Back-lit Panel Light

The construction of a back-lit panel light is pretty simple, and the essential parts are discussed below:

  • The panel of light is enclosed in a frame made with aluminum, in most cases offering structural support to the light.
  • It comprises a light guide plate that is thinner in dimensions and is either made with a polycarbonate sheet or acrylic. The light is received from LED modules and dispersed evenly through the panels by this plate.
  • An LED array is placed behind the light guide plate, which consists of LED modules that emit the light.
  • This light also contains a reflector behind the LED array, and it redirects the light in the forward direction, which leads to the enhancement of efficiency in the panel light.
  • A diffuser is also used in its construction, and it is present at the front of the light guide plate, and its function is to reduce glare by diffusing the light.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Back-lit Panel Light

Back-lit panel light is quite an effective choice for multiple applications, but like other LED lighting fixtures, it has some pros and cons to pay attention to when deciding on its purchase.


  • The uniformity of light offered by back-lit panel lights is commendable, and it helps an even distribution of light through the entire panel.
  • LED back-lit panel lights’ luminous output is higher, hence offering a brighter illumination.
  • The level of efficiency provided by back-lit panel lights is also high, and by consuming less energy, these lights can produce more light output.
  • The LED back-lit panel lights last longer and are highly durable, saving money on maintenance and replacement.
  • These lights consist of a diffuser which reduces glare and hence offers a comfortable experience when used for a longer span of time.


  • The back-lit panel lights consist of a thicker profile because the placement of the LED is at the back of the light guide plate.
  • Back-lit panel lights are also expensive as they need more components and additional LED modules.

Applications of Back-lit Panel Light

There are many applications of back-lit panel lights, and these are used in residential and commercial sectors. Some of these applications are as follows:

  • In offices, these back-lit panel lights are used to cater to conference rooms, and also for general illumination, it offers glare-free lighting, which ensures a productive office environment.
  • Many retail stores even consider using these back-lit panel LED lights, which help improve the visibility of the displayed products.
  • Schools, universities, and colleges use back-lit LED panel lights in the classrooms because they are ideal for studying environments as they offer shadow-free illumination.
  • Most healthcare facilities also need sufficient lighting, which helps to offer brightness for examination and waiting rooms; here, the role played by back-it LED panel lights is significant.
  • Back-lit LED panel lights are used in restaurants and hotels for decorative and illumination purposes as they help create a visually pleasing environment.
  • Besides commercial sectors, backlit LED panel lights are even used in the residential sectors like kitchens, living rooms, etc, as they offer ample illumination.
  • Museums and art galleries are also equipped with these lights as they provide maximum lighting with minimal emission of heat, and it offers an accurate CRI, which ensures that artwork is exhibited perfectly.
  • Warehouses and storage spaces are very important for illumination, and back-lit LED light serves the purpose very well.

Definition of Edge-Lit Panel Light

Edge-Lit panel light is an LED lighting fixture comprising a thin panel in which the LED modules are present around the frame’s edges, providing illumination.

The light emitted by LEDs is spread evenly across the panel surface, creating a diffusing and uniform lighting effect.

Construction and Function of Edge-lit Panel Light

The edge-lit panel light comprises different components, each having its unique function, which is discussed below:

  • It consists of a light guide plate, a thin transparent plate made of either a polycarbonate sheet or acrylic, which turns out to be the light’s main body and helps distribute light evenly across the surface. It comprises a dotted pattern that helps scatter light.
  • LEDs are present on the edges of the light guide plate, emitting light perpendicular to the LGP surface. The LED modules are mounted on a circuit board and then comprise a connection to the power source.
  • At the back of the light guide plate lies a reflective layer, which helps in light emission, consisting of a highly reflective material which could be either aluminum or a base of white paint, helping with reflection.
  • It also comprises a diffuser sheet on the light guide plate, which helps in the diffusion of light and hence helps with uniform illumination.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Edge-Lit Panel Light

The edge-lit panel lights have pros and cons, which are essential to have a look at; these are described below:


  • Edge-lit panel lights are thinner and lighter, making them suitable for installation in lesser space.
  • Edge-lit panel lights are highly energy efficient and consume a lesser amount of electricity when compared to the rest of the lighting sources.
  • It is designed to offer uniform illumination by reducing the impact of hotspots and shadows.
  • These lights can be installed in different ways, either on the ceilings, walls or through a suspension from the ceiling with versatility.
  • The slim design of these lights, followed by diffused illumination, visually appeals to the space where these are used.


  • Edge-lit panel lights are not as bright as back-lit panel lights; hence, their brightness level is limited.
  • Since the LEDs are present around the edges, the light pattern cannot be customized with variations in lighting effects.
  • The heat dissipation of these edge-lit panel lights is less; hence, they heat a lot because the LED modules are very close to the panel surface.

Applications of Edge-Lit Panel Light

The applications of edge-lit panel lights can be observed in many instances, and some of these are as follows:

  • Edge-lit panel lights are used in offices, retail stores, and other commercial spaces that ensure uniform lighting.
  • These lights are used at homes, too, to ensure slim and modern aesthetics are achieved when it comes to the house’s interiors.
  • Even edge-lit panel lights are commonly used in hotels and restaurants to create an inviting experience.
  • Edge-lit panel lights are used in classrooms to ensure an efficient and comfortable student learning experience.

Significant Differences between Back-lit Panel Light and Edge-lit Panel Light

Even though these both are panel lights, they still have some differences that everyone must know so that they can be chosen accordingly; some of these differences are as follows:

Position of Light Source

In the back-lit panel light, the position of the LED is behind the panel, and it covers the back surface. The light emitted by the LED modules lightens the panel from the back.

In the case of edge-lit panel light, the position of LED modules is on the edges of the panel. The light emitted from the modules comes directly to the panels and is emitted from the front before diffusion.

Distribution of Light

The light is evenly distributed through the back-lit panel light across the panel’s front surface; hence, the entire panel illuminates light with uniformity.

In the case of edge-lit panel light, the light propagates through the panel, coming out from the edges and moving to the center. This light is diffused and emcee from the surface at the front side, and uniform illumination is attained.

Design of Light

Back-lit panel lights are thicker, and this is because they have LEDs behind the panel; hence space is needed; therefore, their design comprises thickness.

On the other hand, the edge-lit panel lights are thinner and have a sleek design because of the LED modules being on the edges.

Lighting Patterns

Back-lit lights are open to more lighting adjustments, and the desired pattern could be achieved by creating different lighting effects through customization.

In edge-lit panel lights, the customization options are minimal because of the edges consisting of LEDs. Hence, the flexibility to create dynamic patterns is far much less.

Dissipation of Heat

Back-lit panel lights offer improved heat dissipation as the position of the LED is away from the panel’s surface, which opens room for airflow.

Edge-lit panel lights generate more heat with no dissipation because LED modules are very close to the panel surface.

Factors to Consider when Choosing Back-lit Panel Light and Edge Lit Panel Light

When choosing panel lights, there are some considerations that you should keep in mind to attain maximum benefit from your selection.

The first consideration is the desired brightness label; back-lit panel lights offer higher brightness than edge-lit panel lights. Hence, the back-lit panel lights are suitable for applications requiring a higher illumination level.

The second consideration is the space limitations that you might have. If you have limited space, you must opt for edge-lit panel lights. The PM series offered by Olamled is one of the finest forms of edge light to consider. It is ultra-thin and aesthetically appealing hence can be fixed anywhere easily.

On the other hand, the PM series of LED panel lights offered by Olamled can also be customized. Despite being an edge-lit panel light, more air slots can be added for better heat dissipation. They even provide maximum flexibility for customizing the edges regarding LED modules.

The application of these lights is also a matter to be considered when choosing between them. Edge-lit panel lights in the PM series are highly suitable for schools and hospitals as they offer soft light radiation and the ability for customization.

Moreover, the edge-lit panel lights offered by Olamled are super thin, and hence the cost of transportation also reduces; therefore, they fall under your budget.


After going through the above details regarding the edge-lit and back-lit panel lights, you must have understood their difference and how they are usable in different applications.

If you are looking for the finest quality sleek and simple edge-lit panel light, you must check out Olamled, and you will like its PM series. So, get in touch with the team today and discuss your lighting requirements.

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