Use the Proper Lighting for Your Display Case

Use the Proper Lighting for Your Display Case

A lit display case can illuminate your most meaningful keepsakes. It is also the best way to store and preserve these items.
Whether you have an autographed ball by your favorite player, or the jersey you used when you were a child, case lighting is essential to show off these prized possessions in your home.
Learn everything you need to know about lighting for display cabinets and important things to consider before you buy.


Lighting for Display Cabinets Options

There are several options for lighting up a display case in your home. Here are some of the most popular ones.

Undercabinet Lighting

You can use the type of lighting you normally see under a kitchen cabinet in trophy cases. You just install the light into your shelves.

If you have a small case, you will need just one or two light fixtures underneath the shelf above.

Puck Lights

Another popular option is puck lights. These are ideal for spotlight-style illumination.

If you have a single baseball you want to display, this could be your best bet. Puck lights come in LED, fluorescent, or halogen bulbs to suit your taste.

These lights sit behind wood trim or beneath the top of a glass-shelved cabinet, so that they are virtually invisible.

You can get both battery operated and plugged in versions of puck lights to suit your needs.

LED Light Strips

LED light strips are a new lighting option that is becoming increasingly popular; most likely because these strips are so versatile.

Many people use these on stairways as night lights. They are often used under cabinets or behind furniture to create ambient mood lighting.

The good thing about this option is that the power supply can be hidden behind the cabinet, rather than inside. You just need one small hole through the back of the cabinet.

A single light installed to the underside of the cabinet top might be enough if the cabinet has glass shelves.

You can also mount lights vertically inside the two front side corners on any shelf or display area to eliminate shadows.

String Lights

String lights are similar to Christmas lights, but on a smaller scale. The bulbs are often LED, and very small, yet powerful.

Their size allows them to be hidden, even in a tiny curio cabinet. Simple glue dots or plastic cable organizers can hold the wires in place.

You can drill a small home to mount the battery pack to the back of the cabinet.

Things to Consider When Choosing Display Case Lighting

The right lighting solution for your display case depends on various factors.

The size and shape of the case and the display item are the most important things to consider. You want to choose lights that will not damage your precious items.

Most footballs, for example, can’t be restored from issues due to fading, discoloration, or aging, so be sure you choose the right lighting.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Shadows and Illumination

The way your item looks in the display case will depend on the placement of your lights.

Top lighting will reflect differently on a tall trophy than it would on a baseball. If you don’t have enough lighting for the size of your display case you will end up with shadows in the corners. Shadows create mystique, so if that’s what you’re looking for, top lighting would be perfect.

Make sure you think carefully about how to best show off your item by choosing the right lighting placement.

Color Temperature

Color temperature doesn’t refer to heat. It means how warm or cool the light looks.

Warm lights give off a yellow glow similar to the natural light of the sun. Cool lights offer a white or blue glow.

You likely want a light somewhere in the middle of the color temperature scale to avoid lights that seem harsh to look at.

Surrounding Light Fixtures and Light Spread

Finally, you also need to consider the other light fixtures that will be near your display case. Think about how the light falls from those fixtures.

If the light from other fixtures hit your display case, you will get a glare. You can often fix this by adding diffusers or changing the fixtures. Below are common bulb options for display cases.

Bulb Options for Display Cases

There are four main options for display case lighting.


Microfluroescent lights are linkable, easy to install, and give display cases a bright, interior glow.


LED lights are long-lasting and can be placed on the sides of your display case for complete illumination.

They are small and discreet and can give off light that is evenly distributed. They also give off minimal heat, making it perfect for items you don’t want to fade.

If you prefer, you can use a dimmer with LED lights so that you can adjust the light levels to the perfect setting.


Halogen lights are perfect spotlights. If you have a very large display case, this could be the best fit.

Halogen lights look very much like natural lights. Keep in mind that these bulbs get very hot and you’ll need to keep them far from memorabilia.


Xenon lights use electrodes that charge gasses inside of a bulb. Xenon bulbs are also dimmable and much cooler than halogen lights.

They make a great under cabinet option for your display cases.

Put Your Prized Possession in the Best Light

Now that you’ve read this complete guide on display case lighting, you learned the best way to display your prized items elegantly and for optimal wow.

At Lighting Distinctions, we offer you a free three-day trial. Let us set up your lights. If you don’t love them, we’ll remove them, no questions asked.

Learn More About Our 3-Day Outdoor Lighting Trial