LEDs are capable of superior illumination, which can be extremely powerful in homes and small spaces. To address such concerns, homeowners may choose to diffuse LED hot spots with acrylic or polycarbonate sheets.
Both options are effective in mitigating strong light beams and trespass, for softer lighting conditions. However, the materials vary greatly, when it comes to sturdiness, transmission and cost.
Acrylic vs Polycarbonate
Starting with acrylic, the material is a transparent plastic that is capable of withstanding rough impacts (shatter resistant). Comprised of a synthetic polymer of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), this type of sheet is sold under several names, such as Plexiglass and Optix. Acrylic sheets can be found on aquarium tanks and protective shield barriers in commercial skating venues.
Polycarbonate, on the other hand, offers another level of sturdiness and can withstand extreme impacts, vibration and dust (when sealed properly). With light transmission capabilities greater than 90 percent, the material is recommended for transparent lighting requirements over the target area.
Additionally, polycarbonate offers exceptional resistance to fluctuating temperatures. Such sheets have a threshold up to 120 °C, which is considerably higher than acrylic light diffusers.
Which One is Right for Me?
For homeowners, choosing between acrylic and polycarbonate sheet diffusers for LED spotlights highly depends on the application of the fixture. For outdoor spaces, polycarbonate sheets are recommended because of their durable features. Moreover, in outdoor environments, light diffusion requirements are usually minimal due to the wide space.
Indoor light diffusion can be achieved with acrylic sheets, due to their robust optical properties. The lightweight material does not lose its color easily, providing up to 10 years of transparent and reliable performance. Compared to other plastics in its group, acrylic is moldable, which allows lighting manufacturers to create covers that adhere to the form and design of the unit.