If you own a pool table, you want to create the best playing experience possible for you and your guests. That’s why choosing the best pool table lights is so important.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to find the right lighting setup for your pool table, this post is for you.
What will you find in this article?
- How to Find the Right Size Billiards Lighting Fixture
- What to Know About Brightness and Bulb Choice for Your Pool Table
- An Overview of Lighting Styles with Examples
- What to Consider When Hanging Your Lights
Billiards is a game with a long, rich history.
Over the decades, kings, presidents and commoners alike have fallen in love with the fun and simplicity in the game of pool.
You may not know that originally, billiards started as a lawn game similar to croquet, that was played throughout the 15th century in Northern Europe.
Eventually, as time passed by the game moved indoors, and it found it’s niche with pub patrons throughout England.
As travelers from around the world began to discover pool for themselves, the game took on a global appeal, and now you can find it in pubs all over the world.
However, though various elements in the game of billiards have changed over the years, one thing remains the same – players need plenty of light if they’re going to make the most out of their experience.
Without proper lighting, you’re left with shadowy under-lit games that make it difficult to put your skills to the test.
If you’re setting up a pool table in your bar, pub or even your rec room, then don’t underestimate the power of good pool table lighting.
In this, post we’ll review the key things you’ll need to consider when choosing the best lights for your pool table, with examples of some of the best options for each lighting style.
The Basics: Finding the Right Size for Your Pool Table Lights
Before we get into lighting styles, you’ll need to figure out what size the light fixture should be to adequately illuminate your table.
First, the pool table focuses attention on the pool table.
It does not need to illuminate the surrounding areas. Nor should other lights in the room be too bright, as that can be distracting for players.
Sizing Your Billiards Light Fixture
Make sure that the light is large enough to flood the entire table, but don’t go over the top.
Pool table lights for full size tables generally range in length from 48 – 68 inches.
If you have a smaller table (i.e. 7 feet), you’ll be looking for a lighting fixture closer to 45 inches or smaller, and that uses 4 bulbs or fewer.
Some lighting manufacturers will state that their lights can be used for most tables in the 7 to 9-foot range.
For example, this hanging billiard light fixture is suited for 7 to 9-foot pool tables.
Single or Multi-Shade?
Another factor to consider along with the length of the fixture is whether you want a single or multi-shade light.
Single-Shade Billiards Lights
Single-shade lights are classic pool table lights that come in many different styles, including modern glass designs with metal frames, tiffany hobby designs, and more traditional stained-glass styles (more on these styles below).
While these have one long shade that hangs above the table, they still contain multiple bulbs and come in several different lengths.
For example, a common configuration with a single-shade pool table light is 44” long with 4 x 150w bulb bases.
This allows for a broad spectrum of light that should cover the bed of the table and reduce or eliminate dim spots.
Keep in mind that single-shade lights tend to be heaver due to the weight of the shade unit and therefore require proper support and installation equipment, including sufficient chain length and ceiling housing.
Multi-shade lights, also known as bar lights, usually include 3 or 4 pendant lights (but can hold several more) attached to a bar that hangs above the pool table.
When it comes to pendants, there are countless style choices.
There are also many different bar designs, from industrial to refined and modern.
There are also many ways to configure multi-shade lights, making them a popular choice for home owners.
For example, with a multi-shade light, you can opt for a 3-shade design with a 52” bar that illuminates a 7 to 8-foot pool table.
Alternatively, if you have a 9-foot table, you could use a 4-shade design on a longer bar (i.e. 68”) to cover the full playing surface.
WPA Equipment Specifications
If you really want to be official about your pool table light size and setup, you can look at the WPA equipment specifications.
These rules state the “bed and rails of the table must receive at least 520 lux (48 footcandles) of light”.
Since most of us are not using a light meter for exact lighting measurements, let’s just take this to mean a comfortably bright lighting level for the human eye in indoor environments, and the brightness should be consistent across the entire table.
To make sure you get this right, apart from the size of the fixture and number of bulbs it holds, you’ll need to choose the right bulbs for your billiards lighting.
Brightness: Using the Right Light Bulbs for Your Billiards Table
In addition to the length and configuration of the lighting fixture, you’ll need to use bulbs that produce the right lighting output for a game of pool.
Getting the brightness of the light right will help you create the right ambiance for your room while reducing glare and shadows on the felt during a game.
Remember, too bright, and your players will be distracted.
Too dim, and your pool table lighting won’t be doing it’s intended job.
While most lights hold multiple bulbs, many of which are rated for up to 150 watts, you can use less watts and better bulbs for optimal light output.
For example, many table owners prefer using 60-watt compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs in their fixtures, while many newer fixtures are designed to work with LED bulbs.
And most bulb bases are still compatible with the standard incandescent bulbs we all grew up with.
If you’re not sure about the difference between these bulb types and how they would affect your pool table lighting design, here’s a quick overview.
On the plus side, incandescent light bulbs are cheap, readily available and compatible with most fixtures and voltages.
But they’re not ideal for pool table lights.
For one, these lights are not as energy efficient. Nor are they as effective in shining light evenly across the table; an important factor with pool tables.
Incandescent bulbs also produce more heat than CFL and LED bulbs, which can make things a little less comfortable in a smaller billiards room setting.
They don’t last as long either; only 100 hours compared to 8,000 hours for CFL bulbs and 15000+ hours for LEDs.
Compact Florescent Light Bulbs
CFL bulbs use much less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs, and are generally recommended by lighting manufacturers for pool tables.
While standard CFL bulbs are not dimmable, but you can find dimmable versions on the market, which may be important to create a nice pool playing ambiance.
CFL bulbs are compatible with most bulb base types used on pool light fixtures, including standard screw in and plug in bases.
If you are looking to use 60W bulbs in your fixture, the CFL equivalent would be roughly 15w.
Keep in mind that CFL bulbs usually take longer to warm up to full brightness.
Plus, CFL bulbs must carefully recycled due to their mercury content.
LED bulbs are slightly more expensive than CFL bulbs, but they are the most efficient and longest lasting of the three bulbs.
As such, you’ll find more and more billiard light fixtures that are designed for use with LED bulbs.
LED lights last up to 3x longer than CFL bulbs and 20x longer than incandescent bulbs, which means you’ll save serious money over the long run.
These bulbs are compatible with most base types used on pool table light fixtures and, like CFL and incandescent bulbs, come in a variety of “temperatures” so you can find the right output for your room and table.
There are also plenty of dimmable LED versions to choose from.
Ultimately, you’ll want to test a few different bulbs to see what works best depending on your layout, budget and setup.
But we would go with either CFL or LED lights for our pool table, and you’ll find plenty of fixtures on the market that work with both options.
If you want to learn more, here’s a good comparison of the three common lightbulb options.
An Overview of Style
When it comes to finding the best pool table lighting options, “style” is often a significant consideration.
There are many different designs to choose from depending on the kind of atmosphere you’re trying to create in your bar or game room.
Some are more ornate and traditional, like tiffany or stained-glass lights, while others are ideal for giving your pub a modern appearance.
Bowl and conical shaped lights are very common in the pool lighting world, as the shades around these lights help to focus the illumination the pool table, without allowing the light to flow outwards and distract the players.
Though you can experiment with other lighting styles, we recommend choosing shades carefully.
The way your lighting resonates with your players can affect whether people use your pool tables or leave them to gather dust.
To review, some of the most common pool table lighting style styles include:
Tiffany or stained-glass style:
These beautiful lights are very traditional and available in a range of colors.
Tiffany lights bring an antique look to your billiards or game room, which is great if you’re building a classical atmosphere for the space.
Classic pool table lights:
Classic pool table lights are the conical lights often in groups of three or six that extend along the length of the table.
These lights come in many different colors and are great for shining a spotlight on your game.
Modern or contemporary lights:
Sometimes, it’s a good idea to explore new ideas with your pool table lighting.
Modern or contemporary lights embrace the latest technology like LEDs to give you the best illumination for your games.
Rustic, Industrial and Farmhouse Styles
There are many more styles if you want to really match your room’s decor or customize the look of your table.
Also, you can find many multi-shade dining room or kitchen chandeliers that are designed to hang from the ceiling and that would work well over a pool table.
You just have to be creative.
Some of the most popular styles for bars, breweries and game rooms these days are industrial, farmhouse and rustic lighting fixtures.
Ultimately, the options for the best pool table lighting are practically endless.
While no-one can tell you which style is right for you, the best option is to go with something that fits the aesthetic you’re creating for your pub, game room or bar.
If the rest of the room is designed in a rustic fashion, stick to rustic lighting, and so on.
What to Remember When Hanging Your Lights
When it comes to finding and using the best pool table lighting, one of the most important decisions you’ll need to make involves how to hang your new lights.
Most pool table lighting needs to be hardwired into your ceiling, which means that you probably can’t set up your system by yourself. You’ll need a qualified electrician to come in and handle the job for you.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that your pool table lighting is installed before you start setting up your pool table.
Of course, the reason to install your lighting before your table is that if your table is already installed and you decide you want to have a new light fitted afterward, there’s a risk that your table could end up being damaged during the installation.
If you are installing over an existing table, just make sure to have a pool table cover or other layer over the surface to protect from dust and debris.
Remember, hanging the pool table lighting for your bar or game room is one of the more technical processes you’ll need to handle.
Hanging your lights too low encourages damage because your patrons are more likely to hit them with their cue stick.
On the other hand, you don’t want to hang your lights too high because you run the risk of your players being blinded whenever they look up slightly to check their shot.
A good option is to hang your light between 40 inches and 70 inches above the pool table. A less technical rule of thumb is to hang your lighting so that it’s hovering at about the same level as your player’s nose.
Remember, as well as getting the height of your pool table lighting right, you’ll also need to arrange the illumination so it focuses directly in the center of your pool table.
If your light is unevenly placed, then it can lead to unwanted shadows and even better opportunities for different people in your games.
This is one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to have a professional come and install your lighting for you – as it can reduce your risk of a poor placement.
Choosing the Best Pool Table Lighting
Remember, all of the advice given in this article is just a basic guide.
Different types of lighting canopies, differences in shade shapes, and even the wattage of the bulbs you choose will all affect the atmosphere around your pool table.
Don’t be afraid to do some testing when you’re trying to find the perfect lights.