Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mellow Yellow




Color Bind


Looking at an alternative way to warm up LED sources

LEDs with warmer color temperatures integrate better into primarily incandescent environments

In my ongoing efforts to help introduce LED lighting to consumers I continue to bump up against one major stumbling block…and that is the somewhat limited color temperature offerings.

Yes, there are plenty of uses for cooler colored LEDs, especially in landscape lighting where plants look greener and more alive when illuminated with lighting that is in the 3000° Kelvin to 5000° Kelvin range. I also specify cooler color temperatures in closets and laundry rooms so that people can do color matching in a daylight-type situation. And I know that we can get more lumen output from the cooler colored LEDs. But it is not always lumen output that people are looking for in their choice of light sources.

I do believe that for many years people will be mixing incandescents, fluorescents and LEDs in their homes; also in their restaurants, hotels, retail spaces and even offices. I think that giving people a wider variety of color temperatures will help meet the needs of a greater number of consumers. It will allow these disparate lighting sources to be able to blend better visually.

I also am learning that many people, including myself, will sacrifice lumen output for a warmer color temperature. I have been gently requesting from the LED manufacturers for many years to offer color temperatures that are closer to that of dimmed incandescent. Presently only a  few companies are offering light sources in a 2200° Kelvin to 2400° Kelvin range.

I’m beginning to think that I may be approaching this in the wrong way. Instead of forcing the manufacturers to go back to the drawing board and come up with a way to create warmer colored LED sources, what if the manufacturer simply offer filters to modify the color temperatures they already have? I’m not the first to think of this. I have noticed a few manufacturers offering what they call “warming filters” in their list of accessories. This is something that I would like to see more in practice.


Here’s the big news though, I met with Tal Janowitz the other day. She is the architectural product manager for Lee Filters USA (www.leefiltersusa.com). She is developed the ”architectural series” of dichroic polycarbonate filters which are made specifically to work with LED sources. They are super thin (.03”) and fabricated for long-term use. They have five beautiful colors in stock. Additionally, she told me that they also have been able to coat the lenses of existing linear LED products. This would be great for companies that make linear task lighting and indirect lighting.

I think manufacturers would be very wise to add these options to their lines. I’m not saying that they should absorb the cost and offer this as a part of the product package. Instead I’m recommending that they be added in the accessories section or offered as upgrades to their standard product. As a specifier…and a consumer, I would be willing to pay the extra money to get the color of light I want.

The truth is that no one can agree what the perfect Kelvin rating for LED lighting should be, but I think we all can agree that having a choice of color temperatures will go long way to making everyone happy.


A glowing example of warm colored LEDs