Lighting Research Center NYSERDA Lighting Patterns for Homes Image Map


Shelf Lights or Display Cabinet

Shelf lights are incorporated into bookshelves or display cabinets to provide accent lighting for books, glassware, and collectibles. Switch shelf lights separately from other fixtures in the room so that the lighting is used only when needed, and make sure that the controls are in a convenient location. Check that the bulb is properly concealed to avoid glare from a seated position. A shielding board may be added to conceal the fixture. LEDs are ideal for shelf lighting.


  • Glare can be a problem with shelf lights for people in seated positions, so conceal or shield the bulbs.
  • As a safety precaution, choose fixtures and bulbs that are intended for use in enclosed areas. Ventilate shelf units properly to dissipate heat from the bulbs.
  • Light fades colors of paper and fabric over time, so use the fixtures only when needed for viewing the display.


Example Patterns