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Community and Q&A

Choosing Lighting

cbut8995 | Posted in General Questions on

Whats everyones opinion on lighting color?

Was thinking of doing neutral white for my entire home. Hallways, bedroom, living room, bathroom, and kitchen

Link to apt tour:

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  1. user-5946022 | | #1

    2700 to 3000 emulates incandescent bulbs. Many people prefer that

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2

    I only install dim to warm 2700k high CRI lights in living space. It is a much more pleasant and flattering light. Dim to warm is important as a lot of standard LEDs turn to a green tinge when dimmed which makes skin tone look very sickly.

    Bathrooms and undercabinet lights could be 3000k.

  3. charlie_sullivan | | #3

    I agree with Akos that dim-t0-warm and high-CRI are both excellent things to look for. It's only recently that both of those features have become available in the same product. I also recommend buying some simple LED bulbs in each color you are thinking about and putting them in some simple plug-in fixtures to experiment and find out your taste in light color.

  4. user-7479264 | | #4

    I find 5000k high CRI bulbs to be excellent in the kitchen, bathrooms, and work spaces (like, a work shop), whereas 3200-3500k are better for living spaces like bedrooms, living room, family room,etc. I've got some "daylight" retrofit recessed lights in the kitchen that are super duper close to natural sunlight.. its great.

  5. user-2310254 | | #5

    A color rendering index of 90 or better is important. Better LEDs meet this metric. I usually prefer whiter (brighter) “bulbs” over the warmer options, but it’s very much a personal choice. I recently noticed that lightning manufacturers are starting to offer tunable bulbs and fixtures that offer multiple settings (2700K to 5000K, for example).

    To me, it’s a little weird to me that so many prefer to replicate candles and oil lamps in their lighting choices.

  6. cbut8995 | | #6

    Thanks for all of the input. Im not a big fan of too yellow light since our home will be a little more on the modern side. All white walls. Modern looking kitchen etc.

    My lighting guy who does most of my projects suggested I get these for my own personal home.

    He says 6 inch is now the "old school" look and these are like a higher end LED light because the LED chip shown gives it a nicer glare than those standard homedepot canless recessed lighting.

    Since my apt is small I wanted to get the same lighting color through the living room and kitchen since its an open kitchen. bathroom and bedroom could be different but unsure what color would be best.

    How does this sound?

    Living room and kitchen: 3500k
    Bedroom: 3000k
    bathroom 3500k

  7. pnwbuilder | | #7

    Color is a matter of personal preference. As Charlie mentioned above order a few with different colors and try them out. Also keep in mind that as we get older lower temperature light may appear less bright than the same lumens output from a higher temperature one.

  8. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #8

    Lower color temperatures tend to give a more "cozy" feel, higher color temperatures get closer to daylight (5000K is usually considered equivalent to daylight, althoug the farther North you are, the higher the color temperature of daylight). Don't overlook CRI, either -- ideally you want 90+ CRI numbers. CRI is the Color Rendering Index, and it is a way to compare the ability of artifical light to render colors similarly to how they would appear under natural sunlight. Higher CRI numbers are better.

    I like to use lower color temperatures in dining areas, or if I'm trying to make stained wood look better. You can create different 'feels' with different color temperature lighting. I would use 3,000-3,500K+ in a kitchen. Other areas very depending on what you're trying to achieve.

    Note that I have found that higher color temperatures, up in the 4,100K+ range, tend to make white and gray surfaces look "cleaner". We use those color temperatures in our technical facilities at work specifically for this reason: we are trying to create a feel of a clean, modern enviornment. Interview rooms will sometimes use high color temperatures on purpose too, to create a harsh/stressful enviornment. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve. In a typical home, I'd probably only use really high color temperatures (5,000K) in places like workout rooms, workshops (and not always there), and in areas that you want to look like they are in bright sunlight, such as daylight extension in a sunroom.

    Note that color temperature DOES NOT relate to "brightness". Higher color temperatures are a bluer light, lower color temperatures are more red-shifted, closer to firelight. Intensity is measured in lumens or lux.


  9. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #9

    I have attached an article by lighting designer David Warfel for you to read. (I have worked with David on a few stories and trust him implicitly—he is well recognized in his field.) This recent piece might also be of interest: Getting Started With LEDs.

  10. Expert Member
    Akos | | #10

    Shutgunning the ceiling with pot lights is becoming a dated approach to lighting. Most modern installs use a lot more hidden indirect lighting, linear lights and occasional pot light where downlights are needed.

    Pot lights are still the simplest install, going overboard on them is definitely a good way to make the space look bright. You do have to take some care with not going too far overboard. Lot of the new over-lit renos I've seen start to feel sterile, closer to a medical office not a home.

    Color temperature is definitely a personal preference.

    Research is still ongoing, but generally it is not a good idea to be exposed to too much blue light after sundown in the house. Most LEDs on the market use a blue emitter combined with a yellow phosphor to produce the white light. The issue is that to get a cooler white, the higher temperature LEDs have a lot more blue in the spectrum. If you compare a cool white 3500k LED to the spectrum of a 3500k quartz halogen bulb you can see the difference I'm referring to. Usually anything around or less than 3000k doesn't have a big blue spike.

    There are a few companies that do offer cool white tri-phosphor LEDs which have much less blue, these are hard to find and tend to be expensive.

  11. andy_ | | #11

    Since this is all really about personal preference, there's not much to add except that I'm personally opposed to the use of the term "daylight" in regards to color temperature. Daylight might hit 5000k at noon, but does that look very flattering? Sunrise and sunset have warmer and much more pleasing qualities that would line up more with a 2500k color temp. Why isn't that called "daylight" instead? /rant.

  12. RBecca | | #12

    We like to adjust color temperature with time of day- some with the Phillips Hue system, but also some behavioral. So:

    - Overhead lights (morning/ daytime use): 3000-3500k. Overhead lights that are on more when it's dark lean more 3000k, overhead lights that are more morning can be 3500k. After dinner all our lighting is floor lamps.
    - Floor lamps (evening use): 2700K or color changing with scheduled color temps for time of day
    - Exterior lights: dark sky compliant, as warm as they come (3000k absolute max, 2300 ideal)

    90+ CRI always

    Generally I've not found folks are particularly sensitive to the differences between 2700/3000/3500 but once you get into the 4000k range it starts to feel like an office building and 5000k-6500k starts to feel like a surgical suite. I'm incredibly fussy about light color temps and even I don't really mind mixing 3000k and 3500k.

    I'd keep anything over 4000k to dedicated task lighting use or lights you only turn on in the morning- it can be helpful especially in dark winters to have a high lumen very blue light first thing to get your brain booted up even if you don't go full light therapy.

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