Are you looking for a modern and energy-efficient solution to illuminate your shelves? LED shelving lights are the answer you’ve been searching for! With endless customisation options and easy installation, you can transform your space and enhance the ambiance while keeping energy costs to a minimum.

Let’s dive into the world of LED shelving lights and discover how to create your perfect lighting setup.

Short Summary

  • LED shelf lighting is an energy-efficient solution that can be tailored to suit different needs and preferences.
  • Installing LED shelf lighting requires preparation, connection of the power supply (also known as an LED driver) and controls or switches.
  • Customisation for desired brightness/colour/type of light, and consideration of aesthetics.
  • Assessing your needs involves determining purpose & features needed in order to make a practical decision that meets requirements and complements design.

Understanding LED Shelf Lighting

LED shelf lighting is a versatile and energy-efficient solution that provides targeted illumination for shelves and displays. It offers various options, such as self-adhesive strips mounted inside aluminium profile rails, to suit different needs and preferences.

LED lighting is perfect for use in display shelf lighting, as it effectively highlights pictures and ornaments with great effect. LED shelf lights can be tailored to illuminate shelves and displays of all shapes and sizes.

They come in various forms, such as LED strips, LED miniature spotlights and under cabinet lights. They offer a sleek lighting option which are an optimal choice for illuminating shelves and cabinets. The benefits of using LED lighting include energy efficiency, long lifespan, and versatility in design and application.

What are LED Shelf Lights?

Understanding LED Shelf Lighting

LED shelf lights are specifically designed to enhance and illuminate shelves, display cabinets, and cupboard lighting. These lights come in different forms, such as self-adhesive LED strips and LED spotlights, they can be powered by batteries or hard-wiring into the mains usually via an LED power supply.

For example, the shelf lights shown above features 120 LEDs per metre, in a sunset 1800K to 3000K colour temperature. LED strip lights are easy to attach to the shelves and can be cut down to the size you require. The utilisation of flexible LED strip lights offers the advantage of providing indirect, soft lighting while highlighting features within the room. With their customisable nature, LED shelf lights are suitable for various applications, allowing you to create the perfect atmosphere in any space.

Benefits of LED Lighting

LED lighting is known for its numerous benefits, such as high energy efficiency, long lifespan, and superior lighting control compared to other lighting types. LED lights consume less energy, translating to cost-effectiveness and eco-friendliness.

Moreover, they have a remarkably long lifespan, typically lasting up to 50,000 hours, which can be as long as 45 years if used for 3 hours per day. Another significant advantage of LED lighting is its versatility. It can be used in multiple applications, including:

Furthermore, LED lights can be fitted in various shapes and sizes, they have cut points at regular intervals which is around 100mm, but differs on each type of LED tape. It provides endless options to create special lighting effects and enhance aesthetics in any space.

Self-Adhesive LED Strips

Self-adhesive LED strips are lighting solutions that can be affixed directly to shelves or other surfaces. These strips are particularly useful for display cabinets and retail shelving, where they provide a subtle or bright lighting effect around products or signage.

The ease of installation and versatility in application make self-adhesive LED strips a popular choice for shelf lighting. To ensure optimal adhesion, follow these steps to install self-adhesive LED strips on your shelves or cabinets:

  1. Start by cleaning the surface where the LED strip will be attached.
  2. Carefully peel the backing off the flexible strips.
  3. Secure the LED strips in small sections to the clean surface.

This method provides a straightforward and efficient way to install self-adhesive LED strips.

An Abundance of Colour Temperature Choices

No matter which colour scheme you're looking for you, you can source LED tape in all of the popular colour temperatures from extra warm white to daylight and everything else in-between. If you don't want to be limited to just one colour, you could opt for colour changing RGB (Red, Green & Blue) or RGBW (Red, Green, Blue & White), which is colour changing and a true white in one neat LED strip.

Aluminium Profile Rails for LED Strip Tape

Recessed Profile Rail Aluminium profile rails are a more structured and durable option for installing LED strip tape and look particularly well on shelves. These rails have the following features:

  • Constructed of high-quality anodized aluminum
  • Come in various shapes and sizes to accommodate different LED strip lights
  • Easily cut to length
  • Can be extended by butting them up to each
  • Provide a safe environment for LED strip lights, with improved heat dissipation

Installing aluminium profile rails is relatively straightforward. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Measure the length of the LED strip tape and cut the profile rail accordingly.
  2. Attach the profile rail to the shelf using mounting brackets with screws, foam tape or adhesive.
  3. Insert the LED strip tape into the profile rail, securing it using the clips provided.
  4. Fit with end caps if required, with versions available with or without a hole for cable entry.
  5. Fit the cover onto the rail, which usually slides or snaps into position.

By using aluminium profile rails, you can protect your LED strip tape from dust and moisture while achieving a neat and professional aesthetic.

Installing LED Shelf Lighting

installing profile rail in led shelf lights

Installing LED shelf lighting may seem daunting, but with the right guidance, it’s a simple and rewarding process. From preparing your shelves to connecting LED strips and the power supply, you can customise your lighting for ambient, feature highlighting, or functional illumination.

Let’s explore the steps involved in LED shelf lighting installation. Always remember to turn off the power before making connections during the installation process. Begin by determining the length of strip needed, considering factors such as the size of the shelf, the cut points of the LED tape and the desired lighting effect your aiming for. Next, decide whether you want to dim the lights and choose the appropriate dimming controls such as a dimmable LED driver and controllers or wire them into an LED compatible dimmer switch.

Preparing Your Shelves

Before installing your LED shelf lighting, it’s essential to prepare your shelves properly. Start by determining the necessary length of strip and selecting the appropriate dimming options, if desired. To determine the length of strip needed, measure the length of the shelf and adapt the length of strip for its specific cut points.

Keep in mind the type of items being displayed and the position of the power supply. If you're going for the recessed aluminium profile rail option, you'll either need to carve out a groove in the shelves or buy some with pre-cut grooves. If you're buying new shelves and fitting them into a tight space, such as between a fireplace and a window, measure each individual shelf as your walls might not be totally straight, each shelf might need to be a slightly different length.

led shelf before

led shelf lighting example 3000k

led shelving lighting example

Next, clean the surface where the LED strip will be attached for optimal adhesion. After cleaning, verify that the lights are operating as expected to ensure a smooth installation process.

Connecting LED Strips and Power Supply

Once your shelves are prepared, it’s time to connect the LED strips and power supply. Here’s how:

  1. Attach the profile rails directly to the shelves, they should fit neatly inside the groove or use a bit of silicone if needed.
  2. Ensure that the LED strips have a sufficient length of cable that can feed back to the power supply.
  3. Feed the cables through any tight spaces and position the power supply and any controllers into a convenient position.
  4. Plug, or wire the power supply into the mains.
  5. Ensure that all connections are secure and that the lights are functioning correctly.

It’s crucial to position the LED strips within a few millimeters of the edge of the shelving for optimal illumination. This placement will allow the LED shelf lights to cast the perfect amount of light on your displayed items.

Customising Your LED Shelf Lighting

Customising your LED shelf lighting is an essential step in creating the desired atmosphere and functionality for your space. Begin by altering the color and brightness of your lights. The DIY function provides the ability to customise the color of the lights, offering a range of colors to create your preferred ambiance.

Adjust the brightness to your liking, taking into consideration the lumens necessary for the area. Consider the type of lighting you want, whether it be ambient, feature highlighting, or functional illumination. By tailoring your LED shelf lighting to your specific needs and preferences, you can ensure that your space is both visually appealing and practical.

The Sunset strip used in this example has a colour temperature range of warm white 3000K to ultra warm white 1800K. At full brightness, the light is clear and almost appears cool, while at the lowest brightness it appears warmer which creates a relaxing background atmosphere. Unlike other colour temperature adjustable strips, the Sunset strip doesn't require a special controller, dimming can be done from a dimmer switch.

LED shelf light example

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting provides a subtle, cozy illumination that enhances the overall atmosphere of a room. This type of lighting is the primary source of illumination for a space, imparting a subtle, diffused radiance that produces a tranquil and inviting ambiance.

Ambient lighting is perfect for spaces where you want to create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. The advantages of ambient lighting include its gentle, comfortable glow, which adds to the overall ambiance of a space. By incorporating ambient lighting into your LED shelf lighting setup, you can create a warm and welcoming environment for your room.

warmer glowing LED shelf lighting


Feature Highlighting

Feature highlighting focuses light on specific items or areas, drawing attention to key products or displays. This technique emphasizes certain items or areas by directing light to them, thus enhancing the visibility of key products or displays. The advantages of feature highlighting include increased visibility of products, for commercial applications you can also enhance the customer experience and increase sales.

By incorporating feature highlighting into your LED shelf lighting design, you can effectively showcase your most important items and draw attention to the highlights of your space. While some consumers may have chosen more of a spotlight effect, the LED tape design produces an unrivaled, seamless and consistent lighting array.

LED shelf lighting feature

Functional Illumination

Functional illumination is lighting designed to fulfill a specific purpose other than simply providing illumination. This type of lighting is employed to provide practical lighting for tasks or activities, such as:

  • in cupboards
  • overhangs
  • reading areas
  • workspaces

Functional illumination is perfect for areas that require focused lighting for specific tasks, especially when using an opal cover to diffuse the light. Ideally you want to get a dot-free lighting effect, that looks almost like a fluorescent tube light.

By incorporating functional illumination into your LED shelf lighting setup, you can ensure that your space is not only visually appealing but also practical and efficient. This type of lighting is perfect for areas where you need to perform tasks that require precise and focused lighting, such as reading or working on a project.

Choosing the Right LED Shelf Lighting for Your Space

shelf lights not lit

Selecting the right LED shelf lighting for your space involves assessing your needs, comparing available options, and considering aesthetics and functionality. It’s vital to determine the purpose of your lighting, such as ambient, feature highlighting, or functional illumination, and then choose the appropriate LED lights accordingly.

Take the time to research different types of LED lights, such as self-adhesive strips with or without aluminium profile rails, and their respective features and benefits. Additionally, consider the aesthetics and functionality of your space when selecting your LED shelf lighting, ensuring that it complements the design and meets your practical needs. If you're watching TV, do you really want to be sat in front of a clinical cool white lighting effect?

Assessing Your Needs

To assess your needs, first determine the purpose of your lighting, whether it’s ambient, feature highlighting, or functional illumination. Next, consider factors such as the brightness, color temperature, and length of the LED strip lights. It’s also essential to take into account the dimensions and design of your shelves, as well as the type of items being displayed and the power source required.

By understanding your needs and preferences, you can ensure that your LED shelf lighting selection is perfect for your space. This will allow you to create a visually appealing and functional lighting setup that meets all of your requirements.

Comparing LED Shelf Light Options

When comparing LED shelf light options, consider the features and benefits of each type of product, including ease of installation, versatility, durability, and aesthetics. Additionally, take into account the brightness, measured in lumens, and color temperature, measured in Kelvin, when comparing LED shelf lights.

By comparing various LED shelf light options, you can make an informed decision on the best solution for your space. This will enable you to create a lighting setup that not only meets your practical needs but also complements the overall design of your space.

Considering Aesthetics and Functionality

When selecting LED shelf lighting, it’s crucial to consider both aesthetics and functionality. Choose lighting that complements the design of your space while also meeting your general everyday needs. Determine the appropriate brightness and color temperature, taking into account the desired atmosphere and the type of lighting you plan to use.

By considering aesthetics and functionality, you can ensure that your LED shelf lighting enhances the overall appearance of your space while providing the necessary illumination for your requirements. This balance will create a visually appealing and practical lighting setup that perfectly suits your space.


The best way to control your lights is with a wall switch as this allows everyone to switch and dim them without needing a special controller. Using Lightwave smart switches you can have a wall switch as well as App control; enjoy the best of both worlds.

led shelf light controls

The Lightwave App allows you to name your lights and set scenes which is a function that combines multiple lighting operations at the press of a button. An example of a lighting scene could be that you switch your downlights off and switch your shelf lights on a 20% brightness.

Timer settings are also handy and especially useful when you go on holiday to deter burglars, you can easily set up an automation in the App that switches your lights on at 8PM and off at midnight. Lightwave also has voice activated controls from Siri, Amazon Alexa or Google Home.

Lightwave smart switches can be voice activated without needing any additional kit, you can do it just with the switch, the Lightwave Link plus hub and your iPhone, you'll also need the Apple Home Kit App but that's free to use. You can individually name each switch and have a magic button which can control multiple lights at once, switch power sockets or heating controls throughout your entire home.

lightwave shelf light control

Even if you don't have any wires in place, you can opt for the Lightwave wire-free switches and just stick them to the wall. You'll still need to wire a Lightwave relay into the LED power supply or wire a smart switch into the circuit as the wire-free switch acts like a remote control that communicates with the relay or switch.


In conclusion, LED shelf lighting is a versatile and energy-efficient solution for illuminating your shelves and displays. With various options such as self-adhesive strips and aluminium profile rails, you can customise your lighting to create the perfect atmosphere and functionality for your space.

By assessing your needs, comparing available options, and considering aesthetics and functionality, you can transform your space and enhance its ambiance with LED shelf lighting. So, why wait? Start your LED shelf lighting journey today and experience the benefits for yourself!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to light a shelf?

For the best lighting result, use the Sunset LED strip with a recessed aluminum profile which comes with an opal cover as standard. This will create a subtle glow and prevent any dotting effect. This design also looks great in the daytime when your lights are in use as the LED strip is hidden behind the rail.

How do you put LED lights on shelves?

For shelves, determine the required length of LED strip, then multiple the length by the wattage per metre. Then add up all of the strips that are going on the same power supply. If you've got 98 watts, then use a 100 watt power supply. If the LED tape is 24V, you'll need a 24V power supply.

Decide whether to dim the lights, plan and sketch the setup, mount the strips, make and finish the wiring connections, and then enjoy the new accent lighting! This process is relatively simple and can be done in a few stages. First, measure the length of the shelf and calculate the wattage requirements for the LED strip. Next, decide if you want to dim the lights and plan the setup accordingly.

What is the lifespan of LED shelf lights?

LED shelf lights have an impressive lifespan of up to 50,000 hours. They should also come with a long guarantee period, usually around 3 years but these factors depend on the brand you're choosing.

Can I dim my LED shelf lights?

Yes, you can dim your LED shelf lights by using a dimmable power supply or an in-line dimmer control system. These dimmers are easy to install and can be used to adjust the brightness of your lights to the desired level. A mains dimmable LED power supply can be dimmed with an LED compatible dimmer switch or home automation system.

They are also energy efficient and can help you save money on your electricity bills. Colour changing strip lights require a non dimmable power supply as the dimming and colour changing effects are done on the controller. With controller options available for use with new or existing control systems such as Philips Hue or Tuya.

What is the difference between ambient lighting and functional illumination?

Ambient lighting creates an atmosphere, while functional illumination is designed to help with specific tasks or activities.