What Are the Best Tips for Installing Fiber-Optic Stars?

Elizabeth West
Elizabeth West
Installing fiber optics may be easier with a drop ceiling.
Installing fiber optics may be easier with a drop ceiling.

Fiber-optic stars make a pretty contrast to a dark ceiling in a child’s room, an office, or living room. Decorating with fiber optics requires a bit of work above the room or the installation of a drop ceiling if access is limited. Planning the light pattern before doing any work is highly recommended. For those with minimal experience, kits are available for home assembly.

Planning a pattern for the fiber-optic stars should be done before drilling any holes in the ceiling. The best star field simulations are somewhat random unless the decorator desires specific shapes, such as fireworks or galaxies. A dark ceiling shows better contrast and hides any installation mistakes. Brightness of the fiber-optic stars will vary by how deeply they are embedded in the ceiling. Filaments will look better if a bit is left sticking out at the end to avoid a halo effect.

A good kit should include enough fiber-optic stars to create the desired effect. Fiber-optic cables or filaments transport the light from the illuminator to the end fittings, which go into the drilled holes. An illuminator will need to be positioned in the ceiling above the room and plugged into an electrical outlet. It should be in an accessible area so the bulb can be changed periodically. If there is no access to area above, a suspended or dropped ceiling will have to be installed.

In a fixed ceiling with access from above, drilling the holes from the bottom up is the best way to avoid chipping that occurs at the exit point of the drill. The fiber-optic cables or filaments can then be threaded downward through the holes and fixed in place. End fittings in various styles allow the light to come through while blocking the hole. When working in an unfinished attic or ceiling area, protective clothing and masks keep insulation exposure to a minimum.

Installing fiber-optic stars takes a long time. At least two people should be present, one above and the other below. They can communicate through the ceiling if possible or by two-way radio or speakerphone. An extra person is helpful to wrangle the fiber-optic filament and alert the driller when in proximity to electrical wiring. A light shining up from below will help locate the holes.

Once the fiber-optic stars are installed, the effect can be enjoyed. The filaments create an ambient light that can affect contrast in high-definition projection TV screens and projectors. The effect is negligible but might be a consideration in a media room or home theater.

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    • Installing fiber optics may be easier with a drop ceiling.
      Installing fiber optics may be easier with a drop ceiling.