How Do Backlit Mirrors Work?

Mirrors with backlighting are fast becoming a popular item for homes, so it’s interesting to find out how backlit mirrors work. We truly find these mirrors fascinating, so we did our best to learn more about them.

How do backlit mirrors work? A backlit mirror works by casting a soft glow around it. The source of this illumination is a lighting system that is made up of small LED bulbs. These lights are arranged into strips that are mounted behind the mirror, along its perimeter. When the backlit mirror is activated, the lights behind it turn on, giving off the light around the back of the mirror and casting a pleasant and even glow on the immediate surroundings.

How do backlit mirrors achieve that lighting effect, and how are these mirrors mounted and prepared for use? Aside from lighting up space, what else can backlit mirrors do? If you’ve been asking these questions yourself, we’ve got you covered!

How Do Backlit Mirrors Work
Image by Eduardo-Silva from Pixabay

How Backlit Mirrors Work

Backlit mirrors work by emitting light from behind them. There are three aspects that factor into how this happens. These are their lights, their use of electricity, and their build. Let’s take a look at those now.

LED Lights

Backlit mirrors are installed with lights called LEDs, or light-emitting diodes. LED bulbs are small, with a standard size of 5mm. Backlit mirrors have several of these mounted on an LED strip that functions as a circuit board.

This strip of LED lights is then mounted onto the mirror base along its perimeter so that you have it going around the base. The LED strip is then connected to direct current or DC power supply.


The LED lights on backlit mirrors run on electrical power. For the bulbs to light up, electrical current must travel through the strip. LED strips to use DC power, but since the power grid works on alternating current or AC, a power supply unit is needed to convert the AC signal into DC. Power supply units for LED strips look the same as those used by laptop computers.

Backlit mirror LED strips are then connected to the power supply unit, which can then be plugged into a standard power source, such as a wall outlet. As for the light switch, backlit mirrors may have a separate wall switch or an integrated on/off mechanism on the mirror itself.


A backlit mirror is built in such a way that the mirror glass does not touch the wall on which it is mounted. The base behind the mirror not only holds the LED lights but also functions as a separator between the mirror and the wall. The space between the mirror glass and the wall is how the mirror achieves the backlit, “floating mirror” effect.

This is also a space where the glow of the LED lights come from to illuminate the mirror’s surroundings. This explains why backlit mirrors are called such—they’re lit up from behind the mirror surface. 

How Are Backlit Mirrors Set Up?

Backlit mirrors are set up in a particular way so that all of the aspects we’ve discussed really come together and achieve that stunning backlighting effect. There are three major components of standard backlit mirrors: the frame or backing board, the mirror glass, and the base containing the LED circuit. Here’s how backlit mirrors are set up.


The frame is the part of the mirror that is attached to the wall. The frame may be made of aluminum, wood, or any other sturdy material that would be compatible with the type of wall, which can be plaster, masonry, or drywall. The frame of a backlit mirror would usually have metal cleats or brackets on which the base of the mirror would be hung.

It’s recommended to have the power source within this frame to conceal it. For this reason, it’s important to have the help of a professional electrician when installing backlit mirrors.


What makes a mirror a mirror is its reflective glass. Basically, this glass is made up of three layers: at the front surface is a clear glass layer, which is followed by a thin and smooth layer of reflective metal, then a layer of paint at the back to keep the metal layer in place.

LED base

The base behind a backlit mirror is where the magic happens. The base is attached to the back surface of the mirror and it’s where the LED lights and their circuitry are mounted. The LED power supply unit in the base connects to the wall outlet in the frame. The base would also have cleats or brackets for hanging the mirror onto the wall frame.

As backlit mirror models differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, there may be variations in terms of their components and methods of installation. For instance, some backlit mirrors may have the lights installed directly on the frame-mounted to the wall instead of at the mirror base. What’s important is that all backlit mirrors basically work the same way. We have also written this article on how to make an LED backlit mirror. Check it out for useful tips and information.

✅ Video – Reverb LED Mirror – Made in Australia by Clearlight Designs

This video features one of the backlit mirrors by an Australian company called Clearlight Designs. The presenter shows how the mirror works, how it is mounted on the wall, and how it’s connected to the power supply. You can also see how bright it is and how it illuminates the surrounding space.

What Features Do Backlit Mirrors Have?

Backlit mirrors come with several features in addition to their ability to provide light using LEDs. Many backlit mirrors are equipped with other forms of technology such as a defogging mechanism, touch and motion sensors, a light dimmer, and color control. These features can make using backlit mirrors easier, more convenient, and overall a more enjoyable experience. Check out these features below.

Light Dimmer

LED lights can be dimmed and this is why many backlit mirrors come with a dimmer switch. Mirrors with dimmable lights enable you to adjust the brightness of the LEDs according to your needs. This feature is especially useful if you would like to check out how your makeup would look in a low light setting, or if you want to tone down your lights for a romantic atmosphere. You can also check out this article that talks about if backlit mirrors are good for makeup. Check out the article for the answer.

Color Temperature Control Settings

LED lights in mirrors can come in a variety of color temperatures, from warm to cool. A backlit mirror with a color control feature would allow you to choose a particular light temperature. For instance, a warmer or yellowish light would help you see how you would look in soft light such as sunset, while a cooler or whiter light helps you see how your look would work in bright or natural daylight.


How many times have you done the after-shower mirror wipe-up? With a mirror defogger or demisting system, wiping the mirror just so you can see your reflection clearly becomes a thing of the past. Defoggers work by warming up the surface of the mirror so that moisture won’t form on it when you take a bath. Many backlit mirror models come with such a feature, which helps you save time on your grooming routine.

Motion Sensor

Another added feature to backlit mirrors is a motion sensor, which detects movement within its covered area. Used in a backlit mirror, once the sensor detects movement (such as the bathroom door opening as your enter), the sensor triggers the lighting system to activate. The lights stay on until movement stops for an extended period of time, after which the lights are deactivated or turned off automatically.

Touch Sensor

Backlit mirrors may also have a touch button or a sensor integrated into the mirror surface. It’s similar to the tech used on smartphones and allows you to turn the lights on and off, tweak the color temperature, and adjust the brightness.

Related Questions

Do LED mirrors need electricity?

Yes, they do. If you want the LED lights to turn on, you’ll need to plug the mirror into a source of electric power. However, you can still use the mirror even without the LED lighting on, as you would a regular, non-illuminated mirror. You can check out this article titled, do LED mirrors need electricity? We have written an in-depth discussion about the topic.

What’s the difference between backlit and lighted mirrors?

Backlit and lighted mirrors differ in their build. The backlit mirrors are a specific kind of lighted or illuminated mirrors that have their LED lights mounted behind them, between the wall and the back surface of the mirror. Lighted mirrors usually refer to those whose light bulbs are placed at the front surface of the mirror. If you want to know more, you can check out this article that talks about the difference between backlit and lighted mirrors.

Do backlit mirrors provide enough light?

Yes, backlit mirrors with LED lights are designed to provide enough illumination for makeup and other grooming and skincare activities. The white light is subtle yet bright enough to let you see your reflection clearly, and it illuminates your face evenly. We have written this article that discusses if backlit mirror provides enough light. You can read it to know more about the topic.


In this article, we answered the question “How do backlit mirrors work?” We explained how backlit mirrors are lit up by LED light strips along their base where they are mounted to a wall. We also described how backlit mirrors are set up to achieve the best lighting effect. Lastly, we listed some of the features of backlit mirrors that add to their value and usability. We hope this article helps you in your mirror shopping. If you would like to learn more, check out our other articles on illuminated mirrors.

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