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The different types of LED lights for drop ceiling - How to select the preferred one for your application?

Nov 15, 2023 3:55:01 AM


types of led lights for ceiling

The drop ceiling lights, also known as tile ceiling lights, are lighting fixtures commonly used in indoor commercial settings such as offices, hallways, schools, and various other spaces. These lights are designed to provide illumination in environments with drop ceilings, T-bar ceilings, grid ceilings, or suspended ceilings. They are available in square or rectangular shapes, and can be installed by either recessing them into the ceiling grid, suspending them, or surface mounting.

The primary function of these lights is to focus light downward and outward from the fixture, efficiently illuminating the space below. Drop ceiling lights are widely used in commercial and industrial applications, including offices, conference rooms, classrooms, showrooms, hospitals, warehouses, auditoriums, hallways, libraries, and retail spaces. LED panel lights, a popular choice among drop ceiling lights, feature a sleek design and are suitable for both commercial and residential applications. These high-performance lights often available with features such as dimmability, suitability for damp locations, a long lifespan of about 50,000 hours, and DLC certification for energy efficiency.

What are the different types of LED lights for a drop ceiling?

Drop ceiling lighting can be classified into various types, each with its unique characteristics and applications. The most common types of LED lights for drop ceilings include:

  1. Troffer Lights: Troffer lights are designed to fit standard grid layouts, such as 2x2 or 2x4 feet. They sit flush with the ceiling, creating a sleek and integrated appearance. LED troffer lights provide top-quality illumination and offer energy-saving benefits compared to traditional fluorescents.

    These lights are an excellent choice for offices and commercial spaces.

  2. LED Panel Lights: LED panel lights are highly regarded by electrical contractors and property managers. They are cost-effective and equipped with advanced technology that allows users to adjust wattage, lumens, and color temperature according to their preferences. These versatile lights are suitable for various settings, both commercial and residential.

  3. Recessed Can Lights: Recessed can lights, also known as downlights or can lights, are practical and functional ceiling lighting fixtures. They are widely used in both residential and commercial applications. LED recessed lighting offers a clean and modern appearance, making it suitable for various indoor settings.

  4. Flat Panel Lights: Flat panel lights can be mounted on flat surfaces or within drop ceilings, like troffer lights. They have a low profile, providing an unobtrusive and aesthetically pleasing look. These lights are ideal when there are concerns about low ceiling height or when you want a stylish and efficient lighting solution. They come in different shapes, sizes, wattages, and color temperatures to meet various lighting needs.

  5. Backlit Panel Lights: Backlit panel lights are among the most powerful types of flat panel lights. They feature LED chips mounted directly behind the diffuser panel, resulting in maximum lumen output. These lights are ideal for drop ceilings and can also be used as surface mount fixtures with a bezel kit for integration into interior designs.

  6. Edge-Lit Panel Lights: Edge-lit panel lights are the thinnest type of LED panels available. They come in various sizes and color temperatures to suit different applications where a low-profile design is desired.

  7. Round and Square Panel Lights: Round and square LED panels are designed for specific aesthetic preferences. Round LEDs provide circular-style lighting, while square panels are ideal for square-shaped light requirements. They can be flush surface mounted for various commercial interior design configurations.

How do I choose among the types of LED lights for a drop ceiling?

Selecting the right LED lights for drop ceiling involves considering several factors to ensure optimal illumination that suits your specific needs. Here is a step-by-step guide to making the right choice:

  1. Determine the Space and Application: Identify the type of space you are illuminating, whether it is a business office, warehouse, classroom, or residence. The choice of LED lights may vary based on the setting.

  2. Consider Lighting Fixtures: Decide on the lighting fixtures that appeal both in terms of form and function. Different fixtures diffuse light in distinct ways, influencing the overall atmosphere.

  3. Industrial Applications: For commercial or industrial spaces, such as offices and warehouses, consider options like troffer lights and recessed lighting. Troffer lights are known for their powerful illumination. They are popular choices in these settings due to their efficient energy usage, and long-lasting performance.

  4. Residential Applications: In residential applications, drop ceiling lights can offer a modern architectural feel and provide warmth and ambiance. Consider cove and recessed lighting, which can be combined with wall sconces for layered lighting to set the mood in various rooms.

  5. Energy Efficiency and Performance: Opt for drop ceiling LED lighting to enjoy long-term savings, enhanced energy efficiency, and improved lighting performance.

  6. Choosing Troffer Lights: Troffer lights are suitable for offices, classrooms, retail stores, hospitals, and open-space workplaces. They can be either recessed in a ceiling grid or surface mounted and allow flexibility in the number of lamps for the required brightness.

  7. Selecting Recessed Drop Ceiling LED Lights: Recessed lights are flush with the ceiling, ideal for rooms with limited ceiling height. LED ceiling lights are a safe and efficient alternative to incandescent recessed lighting, although more units may be needed for the same brightness.

  8. Choosing LED Flat Panel Drop Ceiling LED Lighting: LED flat panel lights offer a sleek and less obtrusive appearance, making them suitable for small spaces. They provide even, glare-free illumination and can be built-in or surface-mounted.

  9. Selecting Edge-Lit Panels vs. Back-Lit Panels: Consider whether edge-lit panels or back-lit panels are more suitable for your space. Edge-lit panels have a thinner profile but may cost more, while back-lit panels are less expensive and more popular.

  10. Selecting Linear Suspended LED Office Lights: Linear suspended LED lights offer diffused lighting that is easy on the eyes and provides ample light output. They are easy to install, maintain and available in various styles for architectural lighting.

  11. Selecting LED Recessed Lighting: If you prefer a pattern of light shining from the ceiling in a downward direction, consider LED recessed lighting. It creates direct, concentrated light that is evenly spaced and aesthetically pleasing.

  12. Evaluate Factors: Consider cost, energy consumption, and output based on your location and specific needs.

Determine which LED light type and model best match your requirements. Choosing the right LED lights for your drop ceiling is a combination of practical considerations and personal preferences, ensuring you achieve the desired illumination and atmosphere in your space.


The LED drop ceiling lights offer flexibility in design and cater to a wide range of applications, including commercial and residential spaces. They are available with features like dimmability, adjustable wattage, and color temperature, allowing for customization to suit specific lighting needs. Proper photometric planning is essential to ensuring the most efficient and effective lighting solution, considering factors such as lumen requirements, ceiling height, and room dimensions. Recognizing the complexity of lighting design, some suppliers offer in-house professional photometric planning services to assist customers in achieving the best lighting setup for their specific application.

For over 37 years, the XtraLight brand has been a symbol of lighting expertise, innovation, and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. At XtraLight, we are proud of our dedication to keeping as much of the production process in the states as possible. While a small percentage of components that go into our LED fixtures are sourced from abroad, our entire product design, fabrication, assembly, and testing process reside at our facility in Houston, TX.

The XtraLight Team

The XtraLight Team

The resident LED lighting experts of XtraLight Manufacturing pull from their 30+ years of experience in the lighting industry to bring you up to date news and information about the LED lighting industry.