Frosted vs Clear LED Tube Light Bulbs

What's the Difference?


Not all LED tube light bulbs are created equal.

Although there’s no hard and fast rule as to when you should use one type over the other, different LED light bulbs deliver different results — and it is good to know which one is ‘better’ for a specific use.

In fact, understanding the difference is essential for optimal lighting design.

In this quick guide, we are going to explain the difference between frosted vs clear LED tube light bulbs and when you may choose one over the other.

What’s the physical difference between frosted and clear LED tube bulbs?

The difference between frosted and clear LED tube light bulbs is simple.

In clear LED tubes, the bulb’s glass will be completely transparent; you will be able to see the LED components inside the bulb when it is turned off.

clear led tube light bulb

T8 Clear Cover

In frosted LED bulbs, on the other hand, the bulb’s glass will be completely opaque; you will not be able to see the LED components inside the bulb when it is turned off.

frosted led tube light bulb

T8 Frosted Cover

Being able to see the inner workings of an LED tube or bulb may be a drawback for some. But there is a market for both types of LED bulbs, as they provide different style of lighting.

However, choosing between frosted and clear LED tubes shouldn’t come down to design alone. There are other benefits to consider.

Which type of tube is brighter?

Whether an LED bulb has clear or frosted glass makes very little difference to color or brightness — their differences, instead, lay in the types of shadow they cast. A clear glass LED bulb will cast a sharper shadow, whereas a frosted glass LED bulb will cast a subtler and softer one.

Of course, a bulb’s brightness depends on its strength (measured in wattage) and efficacy (measured in lumen/wattage). LED light tubes have a typical wattage between 15W–18W and can emit anywhere between 2000–3000 lumens, sometimes more. The higher the lumen output, the brighter the light — that’s true for frosted and clear bulbs alike.

So when should you use one over the other?

Typical uses for Clear or Frosted T8 LED Tubes

T8 LED bulbs are used in a vast variety of applications. From residential uses like garages to commercial uses like warehouses and shops. As frosted and clear covers give a different style of light, they are often paired with different applications.

frosted vs clear led tube light bulb application

Clear LED tubes

Clear LED tubes emit a sharper and more noticeable light, making them ideal for something designed to catch the eye. If you have light fixtures with perforated shapes and patterns, for example, then a clear bulb will project these nicely onto the walls and ceiling.

Clear LED tubes also make great exposed light sources, too. At the right wattage, they can easily light up the largest of rooms with bright, sharp light. Therefore, they are often suitable for commercial and industrial applications like warehouses or construction areas where they are installed high above the floor.

Frosted LED tubes

Those looking for even, subtler, and more diffused light should opt for frosted LED tube light bulbs — they are much easier on the eye, don’t cast filament shadow and don’t ‘pop’ like their clear counterparts.

As such, frosted LED tubes are more commonly found in areas where an even and well-distributed output is prefered. The clear covers can make the light seem larger and doesn't take place as the center of attention. 

There you have it. The difference between clear and frosted covers for T8 LED tubes,.

Now we want to hear from you, have you installed clear or frosted LED tubes? Where did you install it and why did you choose one over the other?

Use the comment box below and let us know!

Sign up for our newsletter and save 10% on your next purchase!