How often do we stop to consider the importance of light and marvel at all of its incredible benefits? Light is all around us. When most of us were born, light harnessed through electrical conductivity was available in our homes. We've become accustomed to hearing phrases like lighting warmth about how a room can feel warm and cozy because of the color temperature.
The right lighting allows us to navigate dim rooms, manage our wake-sleep cycles, and contributes to our feelings of happiness and relaxation. Have you ever heard of mood lighting? Mood lighting has the proper color light and brightness to create the desired atmosphere. Lighting can make a room look bigger, and highlight small accents within a home that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Lighting has advanced in so many ways since the old school incandescent bulbs. Technology has made such advancements in energy efficiency, variations in brightness, and color temperature. Read on to get the home lighting 101 basics.
What is Color Light Temperature?
Color light temperature describes the presentation of light emitted by a bulb. LED light bulbs usually come with a color temperature rating, displayed as a number from 1000-10000, with the letter K added. The bulb's temperature measured in Kelvins is a base unit of thermodynamic temperature, not Celsius or Fahrenheit. Unlike air temperature, the lower the number, the warmer the color, and the higher the number, the cooler and more white-blue the bulb's color.
Natural sunlight during the morning and afternoon hours has a rating of 4000K-5000K, whereas light with a blue hue has a rating of 9000-10000K. To get the lighting that best suits each room in your home, think about the atmosphere you're trying to create. A warmer bulb elicits feelings of relaxation and is more suited for a bedroom, while a cool white bulb helps us focus and feel more alert. For example, a kitchen would use a cooler, whiter light to help with the many tasks that happen in a kitchen every day..
We now have a pretty good idea about color temperatures and what they mean, but what about brightness?
What are Lumens?
Without getting too technical, lumens equal the amount of brightness coming from a light bulb. A bulb measured as 1100 lumens is brighter than one measured as 500 lumens. Sometimes you will see lumens and watts discussed together or interchangeably. Though lumens numerically correlate to watts, they do not mean the same thing. Watts does not measure brightness, they measure energy output. For example, an incandescent bulb with 100w (energy) has a measurement of 1600 lumens (brightness).
With incandescent bulbs becoming a relic, watts are no longer relevant to LED lighting. Because LED lighting is so energy efficient, we only need to be concerned with color temperature and lumens.
To help you choose a room's brightness, refer to the three layers of lighting, general, accent and task. General or ambient lighting provides enough light to see all room areas with some detail sufficiently. Accent lighting is more for decorative purposes and is usually used to emphasize a painting, photo, or other important decoration. We use brighter or task lighting for reading books, cooking, or putting on makeup.
OK, so we're clear on lumens, watts, and color temperatures and how they can make or break the vibe in our homes, but what about the bulbs?
LED or light-emitting diodes is the standard in advanced energy-efficient lighting. Their structurally more complex than their predecessor, the incandescent bulb, but they work by running electricity through a silicone element.
LEDs can last up to 25,000 light hours or 25 years, come in 400-1000 lumens, have a wide range of color temperatures, and red, green blue variations, not offered with fluorescent or incandescent light. Updates in home decor, like LED mirrors, implement outside smart controls to change the color, brightness, and frequency of light emitted.
With LEDs becoming our go-to lighting, we'll consume less energy, which leads to lower bills and fewer bulbs, reducing waste, a massive win for the environment.
Let's look at a couple of the LEDs' older relatives that helped us get to where we are today.
Historically the most popular lightbulb in America started its phase-out in 2012 with the 100w bulb, then the 75w in 2013. Though the incandescent bulb is still available in some locations in limited quality, the goal is to end its manufacturing and use entirely.
Incandescent bulbs come in 40, 60, 75, and 100 watts. Electricity generates light by passing through a wire inside the bulb. The bulbs come in soft white, cool white, and natural daylight from 2700K-6500K.
This type of lighting doesn't sound so bad, right? The lifespan of an incandescent bulb is 1000 hours or one year compared to the 25 years of the LED bulb. And this is why the old faithful of light bulbs has lost its relevance. We can get the same warmth lighting from an incandescent, but the efficiency and value are not there.
Do you know those twisted bulbs that come in the mail from the electric company? They are fluorescent lights or CFL, compact fluorescent lights. The glass bulb contains mercury vapors that create a chemical reaction with electrical currents causing a phosphor powder coating the glass to illuminate. Quite a mouthful!
These lights can range from 9 to 30 watts, warm to cool, but most commonly used for bluish-white light. More energy-efficient than incandescents, with a light life of 8,000 hours or eight years. Unlike the larger fluorescent lights used in commercial buildings and schools, CFLs used in homes are considered safe, emitting only very low levels of UV rays.
In summary, knowing this information about the lighting sources you bring into your home is essential for health, comfort, energy efficiency, the environment, and productivity. LED lighting's range of color temperatures and longevity makes it an ideal element to use in home decor products like LED mirrors or to illuminate a staircase.
Because we spend so much time in our homes for rest, work and play, having a sustainable light source in the most favorable brightness and color temperature is not only ideal, but essential. We hope you enjoy all of your future lighting projects!