the DIFFERENCE between WARM and COOL Light...

Getting your head around what colour means in light can be tricky.  It's even more confusing with LED lighting than any previous technologies because the choices now are so diverse!  Unfortunately, even though there is a lot of good information available, it can be difficult to work out who's telling the right story.  Sadly, there are still some people who are experts in their field making blanket comments about the quality of light from energy efficient LED based on poor colour selection that can be very off putting when you're trying to figure out what the right light is for you.

In our homes, we really only need to understand the difference between warm and cool light.  A lot of people have a perception of warm light that it can look "dirty" and change the colour of a room, however good quality 3000K (or warm white) light has a barely perceptible impact on the colour in a room.  Yes it's warm - but in the same way that you choose a slightly warm white paint for your walls so that your home feels cosy.

Cool White is often 4000K, although recently on a trip to Bunnings, I saw that the standard now is 6000K - which is a really blue light.  The reason we don't use this colour in our homes is that it feels clinical, and uninviting.  Cool white light is usually only considered in warm climates, where coming in from a hot humid day to a home that makes you feel like you're in a fridge is actually a positive!

It's also important when considering the colour of the light in your home that you get uniformity across the different light fittings.  With LED, warm white can cover anything from 2500K to 3200K - 2500K is the much yellower tone, and will cause the room to feel golden.  Some enjoy this as it's more like traditional incandescent light, others can't stand it - that's really personal choice.  But when you're selecting your lights, you want them all to be the same  number, so that you don't really perceive the colour beyond feeling warm and welcome at home.

You can see in the image above right that two colour temperatures have been used next to each other - sometimes this is done intentionally for drama, but often times it's simply an error in selection and it can make a space feel a bit messy.

The quality of the colour is your light is measured with a number called an "SDCM" number.  Quality manufacturers will always have this information, and what it tells you is how consistent their colour is.  That number should always be 3 or below - and the lower the number, the less likely you are to perceive the difference between two fittings.

With modern photography enhancements, it can be really tricky to tell from images exactly what's going on with the colour of the light - but you will always FEEL the difference in your home.

So - when choosing lights at home, don't be scared of LED - it's great for energy efficiency, and good quality LED lights have amazing colour - better than any technology that has come before.  If you're in cooler climates, you'll always want 3000K warm white, if you low the old incandescent colour, you'll want 2700K.  There are lots of lights coming into the market now that are "warm dimming" which means they behave exactly like halogen light - 3000K at full brightness, and down to 2500K as they dim, which is a great way to replicate traditional lighting effects.

If you're in Far North Queensland, or a hot humid climate, you may prefer 4000K cool white light in your home to make it feel fresh and cold in the hot weather, but we strongly advise against going all the way to 6000K as it's very extreme and hard to relax in.  Most commercial spaces are lit with 4000k as it keeps you more alert and awake - great at work, but really not what you're looking for at the end of the day.

Please note, some images are sourced from third parties to highlight design options, MINT Lighting does not claim ownership of these images and have simply chosen these as an example .

If you’d like to see your image have a correct and direct image credit, please contact us.