Key Differences Between Edge-Lit LED Light Boxes and Direct-Lit LED Light Boxes

There are two types of LED snap frame lightboxes used for displaying backlit graphics. The benefits of LED snap frames range from high-visibilty of your graphics to easy updating of your posters. 

There are what we call direct backlit LED light boxes, and there are edge-lit LED light boxes. Both of these styles are snap frames but the key difference is how the LEDs are mounted for illumination of your graphics.

What is a direct backlit LED light box?

A direct backlit LED light box, is designed the way it sounds. LED strips are mounted directly behind the viewing surface, so the LED light shines directly forward through the backlit graphic film.

What is a edge-lit LED light box?

An edge-lit LED light box is set-up for the LED light to shine sideways through the light box panel. The graphic itself is indirectly being lit-up. So which of these two LED light box snap frame styles will work best for you?

Differences of edge and direct-lit LED light boxes

Let’s now look at the advantages and disadvantages of edge and direct-lit LED light boxe snap frames.

First, direct backlit LED light boxes are usually brighter than edge lit LED light boxes because the LED light is beeming directly from behind the graphic. This doesn’t mean edge lit LED light boxes aren’t bright enough for most applications. 

When it comes to brightness there are many factors to consider, such as how many LED strips need to be used for a direct-lit LED light boxes, what size light box snap frame do you need, and how will the LED strips be mounted to ensure maximum brightness. 

edge-lit LED light box snap frame

Another difference between direct backlit LED light boxes and edge lit LED light boxes is that direct backlit light boxes require more cabinet space behind the graphic in order to transmit the light uniformly through the empty space. Usually, 2 to 4 inches deep is the minimum cabinet depth required to achieve adequate light diffusion. On the other hand, your average edge light light box can be less than one inch deep since the light is transmitted sideways.

The next consideration when comparing direct backlit LED light boxes and edge lit LED light boxes, is light distribution. How well the light illuminates the graphic is vital. The majority of companies reccomend direct backlit LED light boxes because they claim that LED strips mounted directly behind the graphic will evenly distribute the light in a bright manner without experiencing hotspots or shadows. It sounds good but how can the light beams be set for guranteed even-distribution of light? 

edgelit LED snap frame light box

When using a edge-lit LED light box that is powered by a LED light guide panel you can experience total distribution of light. But how? A LED light guide panel is a laser cut and engraved acrylic panel with LED strips mounted along the panel edges.

The laser engraved pattern across the surface acts as ‘roads’ that the LED rays travel across. This set-up allows for complete light distribution across the panel.


If you are looking for a bright, evenly distributed LED light box an edge-lit snap frame light box will deliver a complete illumination of your graphics that is bright and totely even. 

6500k led light panel

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