Efficient Lighting at Home: Concerns with Color
Lighting.com turns to three award-winning home lighting designers to share their concerns about light color and efficient lighting sources. And provide their tips and tricks to doing it right.
We’ve all seen the fun effects of colored lights, but it may seem odd to think of white light as having color. Lighting pros use correlated color temperature (CCT), measured in degrees Kelvin (K), to measure light’s relative warmth or coolness.
Ironically, the higher the temperature, the cooler the light. Sunlight outdoors under a clear blue sky is around 5500K, while a candle casts an warm, orangey glow at 1800K.
Randall Whitehead, Principal Randall Whitehead Lighting, Inc.
For 100 years we have been used to the idea that light emits a warm glow, becoming a warmer yellow, then golden in color as we dim it down. Unfortunately, for now, neither CFLs nor LEDs get warmer in color when dimmed. Because this runs counter to our expectations, light from dimmed efficient lighting sources can appear dull or gray.
Solution: Where that cozy, romantic feeling is imperative, start with a warm light source. There are some dimmable efficient lamps – not all CFLs and LEDs are dimmable – available that offer a color close to that of dimmed incandescent (around 2200° Kelvin). Check out www.randallwhitehead.com.
Ann Kale, Principal of Ann Kale Associates, Ltd.
When only incandescent lighting was used in the home, only one color of light was available, flattering to skintones. Efficient lighting comes in many color temperatures, and efficient lighting manufacturers tend to oversell “cool-white” or “daylight” (approx 4500K) as appropriate for the home.
Solution: Don’t believe it. Stick with warm-white sources (3000K-3200K) in kitchens and especially bathrooms. The bluish tones in “cooler” light sources might be OK in the kitchen during the day, but look gloomy at night. Check out www.annkale.com.
Gregg Mackell, Principal of 186 Lighting Design Group, Inc.
LEDs may look the same when they are turned off, but vary greatly from fixture to fixture when illuminated. The human eye is very sensitive to differences in color, especially when the lights are compared side-by-side.
Solution: Quality manufacturers will make efforts to maintain color consistency in their products, and color consistency over time (see related article on binning). Even so, contractors should always order LED strips in a single batch so that colors are consistent. Check out www.186group.com.
Contributing writer: Lois I. Hutchinson