A Guide to Pool Table Lighting: Illuminate Your Game

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 lighting.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider when choosing the best pool table lighting options for your games.

Related: How to Play Pool: A Roadmap

The Basics: Choosing Your Pool Table Lighting Options

The purpose of pool table lighting is to provide plenty of illumination for your table.

Typically, you won’t need a light that also illuminates the surrounding players, floor or room.

Instead, you’re just looking for a light that focuses attention on the pool table.

Usually, the best lighting comes from a combination of proper placement and a high-quality product.

Before you start browsing through types and styles of pool lighting, ask yourself:

What size of light will best fit your table?

The light you choose shouldn’t be so big and bright that it makes it difficult for players to see what they’re doing.

Make sure that the light is large enough to flood the entire table, but don’t go over the top.

How bright should the lighting be?

Getting the brightness of the light right will also help you to create the right ambiance for your room while reducing glare and shadows 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.

Different tables require different lighting:

Although pool, billiards and snooker are all games played on similar tables, it’s important to remember that different games may require a different style of lighting.

Snooker tables generally need a more traditional lighting system, whereas modern pool tables can explore more contemporary options.

An Overview of Style

Pool Table Light Styles

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.

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.

Single or Multi-Shade

Style isn’t the only thing worth considering when choosing the best pool table lighting options.

Sometimes, you’ll also need to consider the different types of lighting available to you. The most common options today are single shade or multi-shade lights.

Single-shade lights are exactly what they sound like – a light with a single shade that focuses all of the illumination into a specific part of your pool table.

One shade doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s only one light above your table. Some shades are long and rectangle in shape so that they can fit multiple bulbs into a single shape.

Single Shade Stained Glass Pool Table Light

One thing to remember about single-shade lighting for pool tables is that it sometimes requires additional support when being hung.

One large light typically comes with more weight to support than a selection of smaller shades. If you’re concerned about distributing weight properly, consider hanging your light on a brace.

Multi-shade lights are some of the most common options you’ll see in bars and pubs.

These lights come with anywhere between 2 and 6 shades on a single bar. Usually, these lights hang from a rod or chain which adjustable to suit the necessary height of your lighting.

Because these lights use multiple chains to hang, they’re often better suited for weight distribution than single shade lights.

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.

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.

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