How Bright Should a Pool Table Light Be?

If you’ve ever played pool in a dark bar, you definitely know the importance of proper lighting over a pool table. Ambient light from the surrounding room really isn’t enough and can create annoying shadows.

But how bright should a pool table light be? According to the World Pool-Billiard Association, the bed and rails of a pool table should be illuminated in 520 lux or 48 foot candle of light. This can be measured using a lux meter. The light should also not be so bright that it irritates the player’s eyes.

Getting just the right light requires some planning ahead, and you may want to measure the light to ensure that it is plenty bright or to mirror tournament conditions. In this article, we will discuss why brightness matters, how to measure the lights, and what types of lights you can get for a pool table.

Why the Brightness of a Pool Table Matters

For the casual pool player, a pool table only needs to be bright enough that they can comfortably see the table, but for competitive play, lighting is important. Here’s why:

  • If the lighting is too dim, you won’t be able to see to make a good shot.
  • If your lighting is too bright, there will be distracting glares on the balls.
  • Strong lights can be blinding if you accidentally look at them directly.
  • Lighting that hasn’t been thought out can create shadows that could lead to misperceptions.
  • Lighting at competitions is standardized, so if you’re training for a competition, it makes sense to try to mimic competition lighting as much as possible.

So, if you’re playing in billiards competitions, or even if you’re just really competitive with your pool buddies, you’re going to want to invest inadequate lighting.

How to Measure the Light on a Pool Table

So, we already know that your pool table should be sitting in 520 lux of light, but what does that really mean?

Lux is a somewhat complex measurement.  The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “One lux (Latin for “light”) is the amount of illumination provided when one lumen is evenly distributed over an area of one square metre.” If this doesn’t make things more clear, you’re not alone.

To put it as simply as possible, lux is a measurement of brightness. The higher the lux, the brighter the pool table.

Thankfully, you can measure lux easily with a lux meter like the URCERI Light Meter Digital Illuminance Meter.

Types of Lighting for Your Pool Table

There are three different types of lighting commonly used for pool tables, including:

  • Three shade lights: These lights have three separate bulbs, each with its own shade, but all are attached to one central bar.
  • Single shade lights: These lights usually have three separate bulbs, but they are housed within the same shade.
  • Hanging Fluorescent lights: This boxy, rectangular fixture offers reflected light from fluorescents and gives the best coverage.

The Best Three Shade Lights

Three shade lights tend to be the least expensive option (although there is always outliers), and the Cool Pool Table Light is no different. It can fit any budget and offers several different finishes and colors to fit any style.

If you’re looking for something a little less generic and sleek looking, you should check out the Tochic Vintage 3-Lightt Pool Table Light. This light features a chandelier blending color with a sleek edginess. It is sure to look great above any pool table.

The Best Single Shade Lights

Single shade lights are generally a little more expensive because those designed for use over a pool table are almost always made of stained glass. The Billiards Green Stained Glass Pool Table Light at Pooldawgs has pool themed stained glass, which features crossed pool cues and billiards balls. If your billiard room has a pub-like style, this light is a must-have.

If you’re looking for something a little less billiards specific, you should check out the CO-Z Pool Table Light on Amazon. It still has the stained glass look but features a slightly more toned-down style.

The Best Hanging Fluorescent Lights

There is truly only one way to go if you want a hanging fluorescent light, and that is the Diamond Billiard Table Lighting. This light is the best of the best when it comes to pool table illumination. If properly installed, there will be no dark spots on your table.

This is a tournament-style light, which means you’re pool table will be lit in a very similar way to the table you see in tournament, and it could give you an edge.


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

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