Knowing how to diffuse LED light is the key to creating beautiful lighting. Whether shop-bought or homemade, I cover all you need to know about diffusing light.
Diffusing your lights is a great DIY hack that allows you to create wonderful lighting for great interior designs or special occasions.
Here at LED Light Guides, I wanted to cover not only the difference between clear and diffused lighting. But, also the different methods and types of material to diffuse LED light to help you on your way to the perfect lighting solution.
Why Do You Need To Diffuse (Soften) LED Lights?
When I talk about diffusing lighting fixtures, what I am actually referring to is how to soften them. Diffused lighting fixtures allow the light to cover a larger surface area while eliminating hot spots and harsh shadows.
Although clear and bright lights are great in the kitchen or workplace, for dining rooms or bedrooms they are probably the last thing you want. Hence the need to diffuse LED lights and provide a much softer light.
Diffused LED Light Vs Clear: The Key Differences
There are various types of coatings available for the bulbs and covers. For bright illumination, you have the clear and white, but for a softer more ambient light then an opaque finish is applied, this is the diffused option.
When you first purchase the bulbs or light you will be looking at Lumen count for brightness, and Kelvins for the color temperature. If you are unsure about what you need check out my blog on soft white vs daylight LEDs where I give a detailed insight into lumens and kelvins, and what they are.
All clear LEDs will have a clear coating (no surprise there!), usually made from plastic. These provide better (or greater) illumination and focus the light more on one spot.
Whereas, LEDs that are using diffusers have either an opaque or color-tinted coating. Although these may not be as bright (as the coating absorbs some of the light), a more even spread of soft light is emitted.
How To Diffuse LED Lighting: The Easy Ways
Unfortunately, there are times when the retailer does not have the light you want in a diffused option. Read on to find the solution.
Shop Bought Light Diffusion Materials
I won’t go into too much detail here as there are so many different lights to cater to. But there is a great selection of products on the market you can find a good example of a diffuser sheet here.
One thing I will say though is you may find yourself in the photographic section, as professional photographers usually diffuse their light sources.
How to Make a DIY LED Bulb/Lamp Diffuser
How to make a light diffuser to reduce light output and harshness is definitely not complex. And you probably already have suitable LED light diffuser material laying in a cupboard.
Please note: Never put any product near to other light sources, such as incandescent, that produce heat.
Only LEDs are suitable for diffusing since LEDs do not emit enough heat to cause a fire hazard. However, always touch your LED bulb to make sure they are not hot to the touch, there are fakes out there.
1. Printer Paper, Wax Paper, Tracing paper
If you are finding that your new ceiling LED lights are a bit stark and cold then wax, tracing and even printing paper are an ideal solution.
Carefully create sheets according to the size of the lamp, making sure no light can escape. Although not always possible, you can also try placing the sheet (or sheets) at a different distance. Doing this will alter the amount of diffusion you achieve.
2. Semi-Transparent Plastic, Acrylic, Rubber
Acrylic, rubber, and plastic that is thicker and opaque is an excellent option for covering LEDs. There are plenty of DIY light decorations ideas for this, in fact, something for all lighting needs.
How to Make DIY LED Strip Light Diffusers
As I mentioned earlier, although LED strips lights are great for kitchens and the workplace they are a very harsh light source. However do not fear, you are in control, a DIY LED strip diffuser couldn’t be simpler.
Because they do not get hot they can safely be covered with materials of various thicknesses and colors. With this simple solution, you will be able to achieve the perfect light for any room or occasion.
1. Knit Fabrics & Thin Cotton
Old clothing or sheets are ideal and can be repurposed for wrapping around LEDs and LED strips. In fact, why not try different colors to change the color temperature of the light source. The perfect way for creating an atmosphere on special occasions and at parties.
Simply cut the material to the right size and wrap it around the light strip. You can attach it easily by using sticky tape or for a more permanent finish use adhesive.
2. Shower Curtains
Another great led diffuser material for LED strips is opaque shower curtain fabrics. And again, like the clothing and sheets, the choice of color and thickness will allow you to play around with different effects.
This is done just as quickly and easily as with the clothing and sheets, cut to size, and attach.
3. Parchment Paper
Another great example is parchment paper, this opaque material is easy to handle, creating the perfect diffuser. If that creates too much diffusion then try using tissue paper in its place.
Once again, simply cut to size and attach to your strip.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Want to know more about a DIY LED strip diffuser that wasn’t covered in one of the sections above? These are some of the most googled questions about how to diffuse light.
Is it safe to cover LED lights?
Good quality LEDs do not emit heat which makes diffusing LEDs safe. Lighting such as halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent lights should NEVER be covered. Still, be careful and always check that the LED light is not hot to the touch before covering it with the material.
How do you make LED light spread?
You can get excellent diffusion with both commercial and DIY diffuser material. Cover the LEDs on all sides with a semi-transparent opaque material to increase the spread of light.
What is the benefit of diffused light?
Diffused light has many benefits in life. It is healthier for your eyes as a work light, it can illuminate a larger surface area, and depending on the color or opacity can create a wonderful ambiance rather than purely bright light.
How to diffuse LED strip lights and other types of lighting is easy once you find the right materials. Many regular household items are great for diffusing light but there are also specialized commercial products for diffusing specific light sources.
Both work so feel free to experiment with the different options for light diffusion, remembering to always work with safe non-flammable materials.