All You Need to Know About Backlit LED Panel Lights vs Edge Lit LED Panel Lights

Backlit and edge lit LED flat panel lights are both very popular these days for commercial and office lighting. The new technology allows these flat panel lights to be manufactured very thin, and open up options for end users to choose how to light up the spaces. What’s the difference between the edge-lit and backlit panel lights? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of them? Let’s take a look here.

Different Structures

  The first LED panels used edge-lighting. The light is produced from the sides of the panel and passes through the light guide panel(LGP), then refracted downwards into space. It’s an inefficient way to get light out of a fixture, but it’s a very cost-effective fixture to manufacture and transport. The advantage of the edge lit LED flat panel lights is undoubtedly their thin size. It allows them to be mounted on a variety of surfaces, such as underneath cabinets or on concrete ceilings.

LED Edge Lit Panel Light

LED Edge Lit Panel Light

Structure of Edge lit LED panel light

Structure of Edge lit LED panel light

Edge Lit LED Panel Light Dimmensions

Edge Lit LED Panel Light Dimensions

  While for the backlit LED panel lights, the light source is on the back of the panel, so we usually need to keep some distances between the light source and the panel. By this, we can win a uniform brightness on the surface of the panel. For this reason, the backlit panel lights are a bit thicker than edge lit panel lights, usually 30mm or thinner at current technology.

LED Back Lit Panel Light

LED Backlit Panel Light

Backlit LED Panel Light Structure

Backlit LED Panel Light Structure

Backlit Panel Dimmensions

Backlit Panel Dimensions

Luminous Output

  Backlit LED panel lights are always more efficient than their edge-lit counterparts. Whereas the light created by the LED chips in an edge-lit fixture has to travel through the entire volume of the diffusing panel. While the light from the matrix of LED chips in a backlit panel light only travels through the thickness of the diffuser material. Light losses within the fixture are lower, meaning a higher delivered lumen output.

Back Lit LED panel light strip

Backlit LED panel light strip

  While the effect of the light redirection is another reason that many people prefer the edge lit flat panel lights. The light dispersion creates an incredibly even light that has been deemed “shadowless”. For many offices and other commercial applications, these edge lit flat panels can be the perfect light source for their various spaces. The even, well-dispersed light allows work surfaces to be illuminated all across the room, which means you won’t get dark shadows where you can’t see what’s going on.

Edge lit LED panel light strip

Edge lit LED panel light strip


  There are two trends are being watched carefully. On the one hand, the lumen output of the LED panel lights is driving ever higher. At the same time, the unit cost of panel lights is going the other way, with some panel lights being offered at embarrassingly low prices.

  We are all aware of ridiculously low prices on LED panel lights available on the internet. The guidance on buying any type of LED luminaire stands: a lighting supplier with a decent reputation to maintain will be able to provide full, certified, photometric performance data of its fixtures. Cheap lighting fixtures are cheap for a reason. The unscrupulous panel manufacturer simply buys reels of cheap LED strip, mounts the strip into the frame and fits the diffuser. It’s this process that has made the LED panel market torturously competitive. Despite some fixtures coming without guarantees of build quality or performance, buyers are still very keen to purchase. The regret comes later.

  Direct lit LED flat panel light will look similar to an edge lit flat panel light when mounted. However, when the panel is not mounted, you will notice the light source sticking off the back. The LEDs are housed there, and they shine on to a light diffusing medium that is at the front of the panel.

  When you consider the fact that many buildings are looking to replace a majority of or all of their thicker ceiling troffers with more efficient LED flat panels, direct lit LED flat panel lights start to look like the better choice, at least from a purely monetary point of view.


  When it comes to direct lit versus edge lit LED flat panel lights, the decision often comes down to what works best for your specific application. Some offices or commercial buildings might prefer the thinner design and lighting effect that edge lit panels offer. On the other hand, another company might not value these things, and would be perfectly happy saving money by choosing direct lit LED flat panel fixtures.

Backlit and Edge Lit LED Panel Light

Backlit and Edge Lit LED Panel Light

  Still need help choosing a good LED flat panel light? You can contact us directly. We can help you pick between edge lit and direct lit LED flat panels, or give you any other advice that will help you get the lighting that you need for your next project. We can’t wait to hear from you and help you get your project off the ground!

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