How to choose led downlight color temperature?

26/08/2017
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How to choose led downlight color temperature?

Now in market the main three color temperatures used in modern day LED lights such as retrofit lamps and down lights:

  • Extra warm white 2700K which is similar to a traditional GLS light bulb or halogen. A 2700K LED will still appear slightly whiter than a halogen but is more orange in appearance. This is sometimes called ‘soft white’ by people in the trade. Extra warm white is not available in many integrated LED downlights so if you known you want this color temperature you can narrow down your search to just a few.
  • Warm white 3000K which is clearer in appearance but still quite warm. This has become the ‘new norm’ for lighting in general and is by far the most popular choice.
  • Cool white 4000K which is much more clearer in appearance and is frequently used in commercial locations. Cool white appears brighter than warm white meaning it’s also more energy efficient. It’s around 5% brighter than the other warm white options. It can make a room feel cold and clinical but when used in the right environment it can make a room appear more modern. This is also referred to as neutral white or cold white but as long as the Kelvin rating is the same then it can be called whatever you like.
  • Like 5000K or 6000K etc also need to according to application decided it.

The chart below shows a scale that compares everything from candlelight to daylight:

You won’t be able to fully appreciate the dramatic difference that each color temperature offers until a room is fully illuminated with one of them. Just testing a sample will give you more of an idea of the difference. But until you’ve seen a room fully lit in one of the colors will know only then fully understand the difference.

Each option also accents the colors of your walls, floor and surrounding area. If your kitchen has grey walls and cupboards, the cool white version could make your room appear too clinical like a doctors surgery. Compared to 3000K which makes less of a statement.

The images below show the impact of how different color temperatures can have in same kitchen:

As you can see by the images above, choosing the right color temperature is an important decision and has a major impact on a room. The color of the room or walls should also be considered as the right color temperature will emphasize the color and bring the room to life. For example an orange / yellow room may be more suited to extra warm white whilst a blue or white room may be more suited to cool white.

Applications

Here are some examples detailing which color temperatures may work better in different room types:

Extra Warm White 2700K

Lounges, living rooms and bedrooms. This style of light appears warmer and sets a more relaxing, homely scene. If you think halogen is too warm and want some else then try 3000K instead.
Warm White 3000K

Kitchens, conservatories and bathrooms. The slightly whiter appearance allows you to see better but is not too cold. Although this color temperature can be used anywhere.

Cool White 4000K

Although I wouldn’t recommend this in lounges, cool white can be used effectively in kitchens. The most popular destination for this color temperature is bathrooms. In a white bathroom it can make appear brighter and cleaner although if your planning on spending time in the bath it you may want to go for a more warmer appearance.

Dim Tone / Dim to Warm

Some LEDs will change color temperature as they get dimmed down lower. Starting at full brightness at a regular 2800K or 2700K warm white color temperature, as they get dimmed they start appearing more warmer. The lower the brightness becomes the warmer they become, until they reach a color temperature of 1800K to 2200K which is similar to a candlelight effect. This can be used effectively in bathrooms to set a relaxing low lux lighting effect that appears just like a candle. They can also be used in bars and restaurants to create a more relaxing or romantic setting at night times.

Summary

There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s your room and your choice. Consider what the main activities and what the main function of the room will be.