Glass blocks provide durable windows and walls for garages, entryways, shower stalls and room dividers. When one adds lights, the blocks become a dramatic focal point. Glass block lights can also improve security when used in outdoor applications. The types of lights most often used with glass blocks are fiber optics, light-emitting diodes (LED), neon tubes and strings of miniature lights designed for use on Christmas trees.
The location of the glass blocks is a primary factor in the owner’s choice of lights. Windows, showers and doorways are popular locations for glass block installations, but glass block lights most commonly appear in walls, room dividers and bar or kitchen islands. Some types of glass block lights require each block to have a hole through which one inserts the lights. The lighted block options that require wiring need a hole large enough to accommodate the electrical connections and a second hole that allows one to interconnect lights in rows or tiers of blocks.
Fiber optic lights are a versatile and low-energy choice for glass blocks. One can find this type of light enclosed in a plastic or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheath that forms a rope. One can shape the rope according to the style and dimensions of the glass block installation, and the light rope can follow the natural path of the mortar between the blocks. Fiber optic ropes also provide illumination for glass blocks from the exterior, without drilling, and fiber optic lights do not produce heat.
LED lights are an energy-efficient choice for glass block lights because they require less voltage than any other lighting option. These lights are often available, like fiber optics, as light ropes. This provides more installation options than single or stringed lights. They are suitable for backlighting, and one can enhance them with dimmer switches or variable on and off cycles and a variety of color choices.
One also can attach neon tubes to the front or rear of glass blocks in many installations. They are even more flexible than fiber optic ropes. Their lifespan also makes it unlikely that one will need to worry about replacement and reinstallation.
Inserting a string of 20 to 25 Christmas lights into one glass block is a simple way to use a single lighted glass block as a home accent. One can purchase pre-drilled blocks at hobby shops for this project. These lights produce heat and can be a fire hazard in this type of lighting installation unless they are illuminated for only a few hours.