What Plastic is Best for Lights?

by Laura C. Jones

Illumination is an integral part of our everyday lives. From enhancing the ambiance of our living spaces to aiding us in our night-time routines, the role of lights is vital. In recent times, the design and material of lighting fixtures have evolved remarkably, making them not just a source of light but also a piece of décor. One of the modern choices for lighting fixtures is plastic, a versatile material that is transforming the lighting industry. In this article, we explore the best types of plastic used for lights.


Polycarbonate is a robust, clear plastic that is increasingly becoming a popular choice for light fittings. Its most significant advantage is its durability; it can withstand both physical impacts and temperature fluctuations, making it an ideal material for outdoor light fittings.

In addition, polycarbonate is UV resistant, reducing the risk of discoloration over time. Its ability to be molded into complex shapes and designs makes it a versatile option for designers. Lastly, the high light transmission qualities of polycarbonate ensure maximum illumination.

Acrylic (Perspex)

Acrylic, more commonly known as Perspex in the UK, is another high-grade plastic ideal for light fixtures. Perspex lighting is highly valued due to its exceptional clarity, which surpasses that of glass, making it a brilliant choice for showcasing the aesthetic appeal of light bulbs or LED strips.

Furthermore, Perspex is lightweight and resistant to shattering, making it a safe and practical choice for households. Despite its lightweight, it offers impressive strength and durability. Its versatility extends to the availability of a multitude of colors and finishes, allowing for customization to suit individual preferences and interior designs.


Polyethene is a low-cost and lightweight plastic that has found its application in a variety of lighting fixtures. Most commonly used in mood lighting, polyethylene is perfect for producing a soft and diffused light effect.

This material is highly resistant to impact, making it an excellent choice for outdoor lamps or party lights. Moreover, polyethylene is UV stable, preventing it from becoming brittle or discolored when exposed to sunlight.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is widely recognized for its adaptability and cost-effectiveness. The malleability of PVC allows manufacturers to produce a broad range of lighting fixtures with intricate designs.

However, it’s worth noting that PVC does not possess the same level of transparency as Perspex or polycarbonate. Consequently, it is typically used in scenarios where diffused or less intense lighting is required, like in wall sconces or decorative light strings.

Making the Right Choice

The choice of plastic for lighting largely depends on the purpose and location of the light fixture. Polycarbonate and Perspex are excellent choices for outdoor lights, or anywhere high-light transmission is essential. On the other hand, PVC and polyethylene are more suitable for decorative or ambient lighting fixtures.

Regardless of the type, all these plastic materials offer significant advantages over traditional glass, such as superior durability, lighter weight, and more design flexibility. Before settling on a choice, consider the aesthetic, functional, and safety aspects to make a well-informed decision.

In conclusion, the evolution of plastic has had a transformative impact on the lighting industry. From polycarbonate to Perspex, each plastic type brings a unique characteristic that enhances the design, functionality, and safety of lights. As we continue to embrace modernity in our homes and workplaces, these versatile materials will undoubtedly play a central role in lighting solutions.

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