Learn why backlighting with Light Tape is the way to go, and how we are different than LEDs.
Backlighting doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Stick with us and we’ll remove the stress. It doesn’t matter if this is your first project or your thousandth. We’ll happily walk you through the process of backlighting your stone or surface step by step from beginning to end.
Two easy steps:
-Pick your surface.
-Send us your design. (See the below file for what we need.)
We have plenty of experience working with homeowners, designers, and contractors. Ask us any question- we can help.
Picking Out Your Stone
We’ve worked with lots of different surfaces in the past, and can help you determine what works best with Light Tape®. The more translucent the better. When considering Light Tape® over a traditional LED backlight, a more translucent surface works best since the light doesn’t have to be diffused. Because we don’t have individual bulbs, your surface will be evenly lit. If your surface is very opaque with minimal light penetrating, an LED solution might work best for you.
Here’s some great surfaces we know work well with Light Tape® because they’re the most popular:
-Stained Glass, or really any highly transparent material.
-Solid surfaces by Avonite, Corian, 3Form, etc.
The thickness of your stone or surface is also important. For Light Tape® we recommend no more than ¾” thick, especially if it’s natural stone. That being said, very translucent stones can be thicker, such as Cristallo.
How To Test A Surface For Translucency
It is important to understand how transparent your surface is. This will dictate the best solution for backlighting, Light Tape or LEDs. All you need is your phone flashlight to determine the relative translucency. Please click below for more information regarding our surface test.
First, do the test in normal ambient light or low light. This will replicate the installation conditions. If the test area is too bright, it will not show you an accurate result of how translucent the surface is.
The goal of the Backlighting Surface Test™ is to determine how much light passes through your surface. When placing an LED light source from your phone directly on the back of the surface, you will see how much light passes.
If you just get a little bright dot with no light halo, then you have an opaque surface. If you see a dot with a halo, then you have a more translucent surface. The last step is to slowly back the light away and see if the halo grows. If so, you have a very translucent surface.
Why Is Surface Translucency So Important?
The more translucent your surface, the easier it is for light to pass through, and the less need there is for light diffusion. Remember, it is important to check your surface’s translucency. Not every stone lights the same.
How We're Different From LEDs
Light Tape® is not a single point light source. It is a wide film coated with phosphors, and a patented product manufactured in the Unites States. The entire surface is covered with phosphors and illuminates completely uniformly, so there’s no need for diffusion. Light Tape® is perfect for any application where the surface is translucent or even transparent, like glass.
LEDs are a single point light source. This means that LED backlighting sheets have multiple lines of individual bulbs that shine in from the edge or from the back. As a result, LEDs have to be diffused or you will see the little light bulbs. If your surface is wide, or has places where there are cut outs- such as sinks, LED’s won’t light it evenly.
The real challenge with LEDs is making 100 light bulbs appear to be just one. This usually requires a lot of light diffusion and ‘scattering’ technology. Light Tape® is different in this way because each panel is like one bulb. LEDs are better for surfaces that are not very transparent, and where the surface can act to diffuse the uneven light source.
Light Tape® by comparison is a continuously coated roll of light that is manufactured over 1000 feet long and four feet wide. We then cut the Light Tape into the exact size of your surface, so the surface can sit directly on top. Since the entire surface is a flat light bulb, there is no need for diffusion. The light is evenly distributed.
If your surface is translucent to transparent, use Light Tape®. If your surface is very opaque to very dense, LEDs may be the better option. Test the material and give us a ring if you want our opinion, we don’t want to offer a light that doesn’t make our customers happy. We’ll let you know upfront if we think your surface may be too dense for Light Tape®
How Much Does It Cost To Backlit Your Solid Surface?
As a rule of thumb, the cost to backlit a counter is about the same as the surface cost. When you combine the material and installation cost, the end cost will be about the same, the range of around $70 to $80 a square foot. Light Tape cost is higher on a square foot basis because the entire surface is a lamp. At the same time, you just roll it out, installs in minutes with virtually no installation cost.
Where for LEDs, you are not paying much towards the actual light source, the LED bulbs are very cheap. The costs are more for plastic light diffusing sheets and installation. If you choose the small squares, there is a lot of wiring and fitting. The large panels require several people to install and can be heavy.
Who Are Some LED Backlighting Suppliers?
There are basically three different LED options for backlighting. The first are sold as squares which are usually 12”x12″ in size with LED bulbs around the edge. The second are larger acyclic panels with LEDs also around the edge. And the third are rolls of material that have LEDs embedded into sheets and spaced apart. They all use the same LEDs, just in different configurations.
SLABlite is a popular example of a company that offer 12”x12″ rigid plastic squares with LEDs around the edges. They are assembled modularly to illuminate an area, so lots of small panels cover the surface. Cutting them into odd shapes to fit your surface makes each square carry light differently. When illuminating a larger surface, there are clear differences in light intensity and visible dots. By the end, you have dozens of connections points and wires to hide making the installation and maintenance very tedious. While you may save a little on square foot pricing for materials, those savings are significantly offset after installation costs.
Evo-lite® Advanced Luminous Solutions, another LED company, has two main products for backlighting surfaces. These include rigid edgelit LED acrylic panels, and flexible LED sheets. For retail and commercial applications, if you are competing against natural light, you might need the high intensity brightness of an LED. Generally with commercial backlighting, installation space is not restricted, so there is plenty of room to diffuse the light. For home use, the system is more cumbersome, and you probably don’t need a product so high in brightness like you would in a casino or mall. There are adverse effects with too much light.
Don't Sweat The Installation
If you’re working with a stone fabricator, electrician or contractor, they should have a template of the stone, or the countertop underneath.
We basically do all the work for you. Our laser machine cuts perfectly to the shape you need lit. All you need to provide is the sub-surface to lay the Light Tape on before the final surface goes on top. This is usually a very thin sheet of plywood or acrylic.
We can illuminate up to an 11 foot surface at 30” wide with just one panel and connection. If your surface or countertop is bigger or wider than 30″, no problem! We can always overlap the panels because our Light Tape® panels are thinner than a credit card.
We precut all the sinks, faucet holes, taps, etc… for you. Just lay the Light Tape® on, and you are done. There’s no need to worry about a buffer between the stone and Light Tape®, or bulky diffusion boxes to accomodate for. You don’t need to scrap your kitchen remodel or renovation plans just because you want to backlight your countertop or kitchen island. We can fit easily with your existing plans and designs with minimal effort!
Imagine a material like laminated construction paper that illuminates, and comes in a long roll. That is roughly the same form factor as Light Tape®. One power supply can illuminate multiple Light Tape® panels, also reducing the electrical needs.
Generally, your contractor or electrician will install our Light Tape® panels. Feel free to have them contact us with any questions they may have.
If you’re a contractor, electrician or stone fabricator please take a look at our installation manuals below. If you have further questions that aren’t addressed, give us a call! We can sort you out.