Cool white – warm white. You’ve probably seen these terms bantered about, but what do they mean? Does it refer to the heat the bulb gives off, or something else?
When LEDs (light-emitting diodes) first arrived on the market, most gave off a bluish hue. Consequently, they weren’t always appropriate for all applications and many people wouldn’t buy them for their home. They were also new, unproven technology and more expensive than incandescent or fluorescent lighting. That’s all changed.
Advanced LED technology now saves you money and you can choose the tint of light the bulb produces. The terms cool white and warm white don’t refer to the heat bulbs give off, but the colour of light they emit. The colour “temperature” describes the many tints of white available in LED bulbs.
The Kelvin scale measures colour temperature. The scale starts at red, then moves towards yellow tones and ends at blue. You can choose LED bulbs that emit soft, warm tones or choose cool, crisp light. Consequently, you can choose appropriate bulbs for task and accent lighting based on their tone.
Low colour temperatures offer orange or yellow tones. The light is soft and warm. For instance, a candle flame has a colour temperature of 1,850K. Warm white LED bulbs are usually around 3,000K. However, LED bulbs produce light easily so you require a lower wattage, and consume less electricity. You can replace a 60W incandescent bulb with a 6W LED and still get a warm glow from the bulb.
High colour temperatures have blue or cool tones. They produce bright light and offer a modern look. Cool white LED bulbs are usually around 5,000K. They work well in bold themes, in minimally decorated spaces and in a predominantly white room.
How to Choose
It isn’t an either/or decision. You can use both in the same room, wire them on different switches, and then use them as you see fit. For instance, you could install warm white bulbs for overhead lighting. You could also have cool white bulbs for task lighting over work areas.
Most homeowners choose a warm white fixture between 2,700K and 3,000K in the living room, bedrooms, and hallways. Use cool white bulbs selectively. Too many cool white bulbs in a home may be too harsh. The kitchen, bathroom and office are suitable areas for cool white fixtures because they offer bright light.
LED Bulbs come in a variety of shapes sizes and specifications to suit your design needs. You can view a broad selection of fixtures here, suitable for any area of your home and any remodeling project.