Transform any regular television into a captivating home theater with the magic of TV backlighting. This comprehensive DIY guide will teach you everything from buying the right backlight kit to perfectly installing and customizing bias lighting that reduces eye strain while creating incredible cinematic ambiance.
An Expert Overview of TV Backlights
TV backlights, also called bias lighting or accent lighting, are LED light strips that attach to the back and sides of your television to cast a subtle glow around the screen. This ambient lighting serves multiple purposes:
It reduces the contrast between the bright TV and dark surroundings, easing eye strain during long binge-watching sessions.
The soft background lighting makes on-screen colors and details pop for a theater-like viewing experience.
It creates an immersive atmosphere that makes content feel more engaging and vivid.
The accent lighting provides a cool, futuristic look that makes any living room feel high-tech.
It improves perceived black levels and contrast for a picture with more depth and dimension.
Bias lighting is a must-have upgrade for any home theater. But picking the right backlight kit and installing it properly requires some key considerations.
This guide will walk you through everything from choosing the optimal LED strips to expertly installing a backlight system with seamless corner wrapping. You’ll also learn insider tips for customizing bias lighting to create perfect cinematic ambiance.
Follow these steps below to turn plain old TV time into an extraordinary, eye-friendly viewing experience.
Step 1: Choose the Right Backlight Kit
The LED market is flooded with TV backlight options ranging from basic $15 kits to advanced $150 systems. Here are the key factors to consider when buying:
Higher LED densities provide brighter, more uniform light coverage:
30 LEDs per meter – Basic ambient lighting
60 LEDs per meter – Ideal for bias lighting with full LED color range
Measure TV width and height to buy a strip or kit exceeding those lengths:
24" to 40′′ TVs – Look for 4‘ strip kits
40" to 60′′ TVs – 6‘ to 8‘ kits provide full 3-side coverage
Larger TVs – Extendable double or triple strip kits
Look for kits with value-adding extras:
Corner connectors for seamless wraps
Dimmers for brightness control
Remote controls to change colors/effects
Extra adhesive for re-mounting
Choose adjustable color and effects like:
Warm white – For relaxation and eye comfort
Cool white – For task focus and energy
Multi-color – For ambient and cinematic effects
Slow fades – For subtle, immersive bias lighting
Buy from reputable brands with positive installer reviews.
Step 2: Prepare the Install Area
Proper preparation ensures long-lasting backlight adhesion.
Wipe down the plastic TV rear and metal edges with isopropyl alcohol or electronic screen cleaner to remove any dust, fingerprints, or oils.
For glossy metal-backed TVs, degrease the edges with acetone or alcohol for optimal strip adhesion.
Allow all surfaces to fully dry before attaching strips to avoid moisture seeping under and loosening the adhesive.
Heat and cold can degrade strip stickiness. Maintain a room temperature between 68°F to 78°F for at least 2 hours before and after installation.
Step 3: Layout the Backlight Strip
Arranging the strip evenly before adhering prevents misaligned lighting.
Unroll and Inspect
Unroll the strip to inspect for any dead LEDs or damage before adhering. Return immediately if defective.
Place the strip in position around the top and sides of the TV to visualize coverage. No need to remove adhesive backing yet.
Mind the Gaps
Arrange the strip to minimize gaps, keeping LEDs evenly distributed for uniform lighting.
Plan Corner Wrap
Note outside and inside corners for proper connector placement to hide bends.
Ensure the power adapter & cord will reach an outlet without straining or tugging the strip.
Step 4: Attach the Strips
Meticulous yet gentle strip application prevents air bubbles and lifted edges.
Peel and Press
Once laid out, peel off adhesive backing 2-3 inches at a time, applying firm pressure as you go.
If any bubbles appear under the strip, gently smooth outwards towards the edges.
Mind the Corners
Keep strips slightly raised at corners with the connectors for a smooth eventual bend.
View from front and sides to ensure even positioning with no lifting edges.
Run fingers along the length to check for full contact and re-press any loose spots.
Step 5: Connect Power and Test
Do a quick test to catch any issues before finalizing the installation.
Plug in the controller box and attach the connector wire to the LED strip.
Connect the power adapter to an outlet and turn on the lights.
Verify all LEDs light up, cycle through colors smoothly, and respond to remote commands.
Gauge lighting intensity against the wall to ensure sufficient but not overpowering glow.
If any lights are unresponsive or flickering, contact the manufacturer immediately for troubleshooting or replacement parts.
Step 6: Mount TV Over Strips
Carefully replacing the TV over the strips completes the installation.
With help, lift the TV vertically to avoid shifting the strips. Never tilt.
Keep It Loose
Leave a little play or sag in the strips to prevent tearing the adhesive when handling the TV later.
Visually confirm all strips stayed uniformly aligned after mounting.
Neatly route & hide any visible cables between the strip, controller, and outlet.
Admire Your Work
Turn off room lights and power on the new backlight to enjoy the immersive home theater experience!
Expert Tips for Customizing Your New Backlight
Your bias lighting is installed! Follow these pro tips to customize the perfect ambient lighting:
Set Intensity Between 15-25% of TV Brightness
Excessive backlight intensity strains eyes. Use a dimmer remote to adjust to ideal levels.
Mount Strips 2-6 Inches From TV
Closer than 2" and the effect is too localized. Beyond 6" provides too little light wrap.
Add Ceiling or Shelf Mounted Lighting
Install overhead or rear shelves with LED strips for full surround backlighting.
Minimize Wall Hot Spots
Space out ceiling strips evenly to avoid concentrated bright spots on walls.
Match Colors to On-Screen Content
Enhance immersion with warm tones for dramas or cool hues for sci-fi.
Limit Light Bleed
Avoid directed spotlights or lamps shining directly on walls around the TV.
Link Lights to AV System
Connect strips to home automation systems to auto-sync color changes to movies.
With strategic planning, meticulous installation, and custom lighting adjustments, TV backlights transform living rooms into home theaters. Follow this guide to expertly install bias lighting that reduces eye fatigue while surrounding you in cinematic immersion. Consult a home AV professional if you have any concerns during setup. But with the right backlight kit and some handy DIY handiwork, your big screen will provide a theater-quality viewing experience every night.