HOW TO: Give Your TV "Ambilight" Using Cheap Lights From IKEA

Like the idea of Phillips Ambilight, but don’t want to shell out the cash? You can make a less fancy, but passable, version of the effect using cheap lights from IKEA. From Instructables:

I love those Philips Amiblight HDTVs – you know, the ones with the rear backlight that projects colours onto the wall behind the TV? Not only does it look pretty, but if you’re gaming or watching a film in low-light conditions then the backlight reduces eye strain.

I do suffer from eye strain. Mainly because I watch DVDs or game with only a lamp on. After an hour I’ll start to get a headache. Problem is that the lights in my living room are too bright.

The solution is called TRETTIOEN and it consists of 4 LED light strips that you can attach to the back of your plain old non-Ambilight TV for a similar effect. It looks cool, helps your eyes (allegedly) and costs around 50 bucks. —MEGHANN MARCO

Give your HDTV the Philips Ambilight effect on the cheap [Instructables]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Asvetic says:

    I had a similar idea to use blue LED Rope lighting on my 56″ DLP TV. But, I’m not sure if it’s cheaper (or easier to find) than the TRETTIOEN solution. Of course, you can’t order the TRETTIOEN lights online.

  2. That Guy says:

    I’ve used a simple clip on lamp (as low as 8 bucks from a quick Amazon search) with a compact fluorescent bulb for a while to do the same thing. Of course, this only really works if you’re using a stand for the TV instead of a wall mount, but it lights up the whole corner of the room behind the TV really well.

    LED strips are way cooler, though.

  3. MeOhMy says:

    Just stick any old light source behind your TV.

    This should not be considered a “poor man’s”replacement for the Ambilight gimmick, as Ambilight changes the colors based on what’s on the screen.

  4. Asvetic says:

    @Troy F.:

    I beg to differ. This is a cheap alternative to what the Ambilight does. It doesn’t get any more “poor man” than that.

  5. MeOhMy says:

    @Asvetic: Something is only an “alternative” to something if it has similar functionality to what it replaces. Ambilight is a gimmick that matches the ambient light color/intensity to the content on the screen. If you want “Ambilight,” sticking a light behind your TV will not cover it. They say it helps reduce eyestrain, but that is very low on their list of selling points. They are mostly claiming it provides for a more immersive viewing experience. Personally, I think it’s just a silly ruse to try and differentiate themselves.

    On the other hand, putting a light behind a TV or computer monitor to help reduce eyestrain is a very old concept. It has nothing to do with a more “immersive viewing experience,” it has to do with reducing the contrast between the TV and the area around it.

    This IS, and has always been an effective way to help with eyestrain and can be done with ANY light, and as someone who keeps a lamp behind the TV, I heartily recommend it.

    But I think it’s disingenuous to say it’s anything like Ambilight, even if I think Ambilight is a joke.

  6. MeOhMy says:

    Also – a $10 lamp is cheaper than a $50 TRETTIOEN.

  7. bambino says:

    Yeah, that’ll really impress the >preferred sexual orientation

  8. aka Cat says:

    I use a cheap can-light behind the screen to get the back-light effect. My guess is that this solution is better than Ambilight, because they both relieve eyestrain, but the Ambilight’s nifty color changing feature would probably distract me.

  9. jtc5242 says:

    I used a daylight cfl bulb that I purchased from Wal-Mart. My research on online forums such as Avsforums show that 6500 kelvin bulbs are the best for reducing eyestrain. I used the clip on lamp from wal-mart. Both for under $15. Reducing eye pain and saving the environment at the same time.

  10. shoegazer says:

    I’ve watched an entire movie with one of these sets, and to be honest, after the novelty’s worn off, it kind of gets annoying and distracting. Especially when the action is fast and furious on screen – it’s like your TV’s leaking.

    Or maybe it’s because I was watching “Riddick” and the TV just got sucked into its maelstrom of craposity.

  11. Stepehn Colbert says:

    Ambilight? I saw a demo for that. Its just light around your TV. Thats bullshit.

  12. Anonymously says:

    TV lamps are a really old concept.

  13. SteveA says:

    Ok, please, next time look into this. As jtc5242 says, the proper light to use for a tv backlight is a 6500K one. Currently Home Depot sells a line of shop lights with 6500K flourescent bulbs(should be in the lighting section, they come in a yellow case you can read “6500K” on the bulb) that can be had for about $20. Cheaper than the Ikea lights and the right color temperature!)

    The reason for this is to give your eyes a minimum light level for which to adjust so that your retinas don’t constantly open and close while watching TV in a dark room. The reason for 6500K is because that is what the ideal temperature of white should be coming from your TV if properly calibrated (though even if its not, it should be close enough to this temperature).

  14. SteveA says:

    I should add, we use the two bulb version for our 65″ DLP and it provides just the right amount of light while sitting on the floor face up behind the TV.

  15. Stepehn Colbert says:

    @Nechushtan: Please refer to my above comment for further clarification on ambilight.

  16. Asvetic says:


    Actually 6500k is the color temperature of daylight. Bulbs between 5000k and 6500k represent the daylight spectrum in terms of white light color temperature. Consulting any decent photography website will explain this further.

    If you’d like to purchase an affordable CFL that is rated between 5000k-6500k check out:

    Most LEDs are actually brighter than daylight, and can irritate your eyes after prolonged exposure. Try buffing the light source or use colored LEDs.