Understanding Trade Show Display Lighting

August 3, 2017

Jeff Andrews

Jeff is an Important Sales Guy for Production Prints who has been helping exhibitors with their portable, modular and custom trade show displays since 2007.

When setting up your trade show booth, it’s imperative that you make sure that booth is up-to-date and ready to impress. For many, this means bringing laptops, tablets and other devices that require electricity. Many vendors order electricity for their booths for this exact reason. However, some forego utilizing their electricity to its fullest by not making sure they have proper lighting for their booth!

A beam of light on specific signage or a key component of your display can have customers coming over to check you out instead of your competitors. Knowing what types of lighting are available and how to use them optimally will truly make your booth unique.

Types of Trade Show Display Lighting

When looking at lighting options, the main terms to know are “front-lit,” “back-lit” and “spotlighting.”

Front-Lit Lighting

Front-lit lights are perhaps the most common – you might even have some at home! Front-lit lights, such as LED clamp lights, are excellent for banner stands. The clamp allows you to position this light in whatever method you see fit while illuminating your banner or other signage in a nice glow.

Back-Lit Lighting

Back-lit lights flood the space it occupies, creating an illuminating aura. Tower lightboxes utilize this form of lighting extremely well with their special ladder lighting. Ladder lighting consists of an array of lights that hang inside the tower lightbox itself. This ensures a unique and uniform radiance for your display.


Spotlights provide a blast of light in whatever direction they are facing. For you, this could mean important signage, a key component inside your display or a product itself. While seemingly simple, spotlights come in a wide range of styles and options.

For example, spotlights now contain options for RGB light, meaning you can customize the exact color you want to shine down (or up) at you or your display. Bright colors are well known to attract the eye more so than traditional black and white, so having flashing reds, greens or blues can turn your booth into quite an attractive spectacle!

Within the above categories, the type of luminescence you have within the fixture is equally as important as the kind of light you use. LED lighting is easily the most popular right now for a variety of reasons. On top of taking up less wattage than traditional light (which means you require less electricity for your booth, saving you money overall), LEDs also produce less heat and can be used for all the previously mentioned kinds of lighting. Many consumers are used to halogen bulbs, but they tend to get very hot and are even banned at some convention centers.

Display Types that Work Great for Lighting

While most displays can utilize ample lighting to stand out among the crowd, certain types of displays benefit a bit more than others.

Banner stands, specifically double-sided banner stands, can use clamp lights to ensure that both sides of the display are illuminated and readable, especially if one side is facing away from a major light source. In fact, the combination of banner stands and clamp lights are seen at numerous vendors for indoor events.

Back walls also benefit greatly from lighting, especially if the size of the wall is quite large. One could utilize a spotlight to highlight key information on the back wall or have a lightbox back wall to have your entire display be glowing in a warm, inviting and eye-catching way. Tower lightbox displays also employ this method with excellent results and can help get your brand high in the sky.

Display cases can use lighting in a wide range of creative ways, from having a spotlight straight above the case to having an under glow inside the case, creating a soft luminescence and inviting consumers to come over and check out the details inside.

Lighting Tips for Your Next Trade Show

While the kind of graphics you’ll use at your next event could definitely benefit from lighting of some kind, there are a few tips and tricks to ensure that your booth stays bright. While perhaps not as pertinent for smaller booths, for larger booths with more lighting you should determine the wattage and amperage they will need so you won’t overpay or even worse, underpay and not get the amount needed for the entirety of your event. So, knowing what kinds of wattage your lighting is and planning accordingly is beneficial in this regard.

When it comes to planning, ordering the electricity you will need for your booth well in advance can save you some money. Venues can give vendors special rates for their electricity needs if they order it ahead of time, which could mean more pennies in your pocket for future events or to put towards grander, well-lit displays.

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