What is Bias Lighting and Why Do I Need It?
What is Bias Lighting?
Bias lighting is backlighting with LEDs behind a TV or computer monitor. It has become popular in recent years to add LEDs behind TV screens and computer monitors. While it does add a nice ambiance, the lighting also serves a major purpose: to reduce eye strain and fatigue. When you stare at a bright screen while you’re in a dark or dimly lit room, it can have a major impact on how your eyes operate and how your muscles are used.
Benefits of Bias Lighting
#1 Reduce Eye Strain and Fatigue
Your eyes constantly work to find the perfect balance between light and dark. Pupils constrict and dilate to control how much light reaches your retinas, and how much they dilate depends on your entire field of view. So, when all you see are constantly changing levels of brightness surrounded by darkness, your eyes can become overworked as they try to adjust. This can result in dryness of the eyes, tiredness, headaches, and ocular migraines.
To help your eyes, bias lighting is placed behind your screen to establish a brighter field of view so your eyes aren’t constantly trying to find a balance between light and dark. Bias lighting illuminates a room without creating glare, reflections on your screen, or affecting how you see contrast and colors. Other sources of light, such as ceiling lights or lamps, can cause glares and reflections due to the light shining directly onto the television screen or computer monitor.
#2 Improve Colors and Picture Quality
If light is shining onto your screen, there’s going to be a noticeable difference in how the picture appears. Colors won’t be as vivid and the screen might be hazy. In an attempt to remedy the situation, you could adjust the brightness and contrast. However, these adjustments will decrease the lifespan of your screen and result in increased energy consumption.
Adding light behind your screen instead of in front of it will eliminate any color or contrast issues. Dark scenes or colors will look richer against a white illuminated background. The picture below demonstrates how dark colors are lost against a dark background.
#3 Extend Life of Device
Many times to avoid eye strain people will turn up the lighting in the whole room. However, this causes more issues such as washing out the screen colors and contrast. As mentioned previously, people often tend to increase the brightness of their TV or computer monitor which compromises image quality.
Increasing the brightness of the TV or monitor overworks the backlight mechanism of the device, wearing it down quicker and also increasing energy consumption. By adding bias lighting to your devices, you can turn the screen brightness down and reduce the consumption of energy by the device.
How to Choose the Best Bias Lighting Solution
While there are many options to use for bias lighting, also known as, TV and computer monitor backlighting, formally known as bias lighting, we recommend LED strip lights. Peel-and-stick backings allow for easy installation.
When looking for LED strip lights for bias lighting, there are two big things to pay attention to correlated color temperature (CCT) and color-rendering index (CRI). For bias lighting, we recommend a CCT value of 6500K and a CRI of 90+. To better understand what these measurements mean, learn more here.
Correlated color temperature will tell you what hue and tone of white to expect from an LED light - for instance, is it a warm white or a cool white?
CCT is measured in Kelvin, and the higher the temperature, the cooler the light. For instance, an LED that is 2000K-3500K is considered "warm" and will have an orange or yellow appearance. An LED with over 5000K CCT is considered "cool" and will have a bluish appearance. Because the lights inside your HDTV or monitor are typically calibrated to 6500K cool white, for optimal viewing, we recommend matching the color temperature to 6500K.
To make your screen look its best, you should also choose bias lighting with a high color-rendering index (CRI). CRI refers to how accurately a light source reveals the true colors of objects, people, and surroundings and involves a distinct testing method with comparisons to incandescent light or daylight. A light source with a CRI close to 100 shows colors very similar to how daylight or incandescent light shows those same colors. To get the best picture, you’ll want bias lighting with a CRI as close as possible to 100.
We carry LED strip lights that are great TV backlighting options and will help you achieve the best picture on your screen. The following each have a 90+ CRI and are available in a variety of color temperatures including 6500K.
48V White LED Strip Light - High CRI - HighLight Series Tape Light - IP20 - 5m / 40m
How to Install LED Strip Lights for Bias Lighting
The strip lights listed above have peel-and-stick adhesive backings and can be cut or ordered in lengths to fit every screen size. Strips are marked with designated cut lines to make customizing your strips easy! If you don’t order a kit, you will need a power supply and can purchase a controller with a remote for dimming.
An easy installation method is to use a continuous length of the strip around the back of your screen. For a cleaner look, you can cut the strips at all four corners of your screen. If you plan on cutting your LED strip lights, you will need 4 connectors (already included with the kit). All compatible installation supplies will be listed under the accessories tab on each product page. The following instructions explain how to install LED strip lights by cutting them into sections. Note that installation methods will differ depending on the strip you choose.
1. Cut your LED strip lights into lengths that fit the back of your screen. Depending on the distance of your TV or monitor from the wall, it may not be necessary to cover all four sides of the display.
In general, it may only be necessary to add lights to 3 sides of the TV or monitor if there are obstructions like a TV stand or sound bar, a lot of wires, or reflections. Putting lights on all 4 sides is best when the TV is on a wall mount.
2. Peel away the protective paper from one end of the strip, and attach a connector.
3. Adhere the strip to the back of your screen. The opposite end will have a connector (pigtail, LC2, etc.) for attaching to a power supply. For this project, it’s best to use a 12- or 24-volt desktop power supply—whichever matches the voltage of your strips. Use wire nuts and electrical tape or Quick-Connect Terminal Blocks for pigtail connections.
If you will be using a controller for dimming, connect your strip to the controller, and connect the controller to the power supply.
4. Connect the next section of strip to the open end of the connector, and place a connector on the other end of that strip. Repeat this process for the third strip. The fourth strip will complete your bias lighting system and requires no connection on the end that meets the first installed strip.