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Temperature of LED Bulbs

bbstx
January 11, 2020

Can someone help me choose the best temperature for LED lighting? Somewhere I got it in my head that 2700K was equivalent to most incandescent bulbs and that was desirable. But, on another thread in a different section of the forums where I was asking for color suggestions for DDs new house, a “PRO” suggested that all of the lighting in the house be changed to 4000K.


I found this chart in one of Lars’ ideabooks (Can someone please tag Lars? I can’t seem to do it)


Assuming this chart is accurate, wouldn’t 4000k be too blue for kitchen lighting? The chart suggests 3500K for kitchens.


I have a 5600K bulb in a can over my sink. It is a very cold white. I bought it and installed it in a pique of frustration with not having enough light over my sink. I would not want a whole room of 5600K light. I keep mine turned off except when I’m working at the sink.


I understand the concept of light temperature, but I do not have enough experience to know which temperature of light would be best. Suggestions? Experiences? Anecdotes?

Comments (15)

  • Lars

    I don't understand "tagging" - what is that about? I do know that I prefer light that is in the 3200k temperature, and generally I prefer to go lower, like to 3000k rather than higher. I do not like 4000k light, as that is way to harsh IMO, even for kitchens. I had some LED lights in my kitchen that were the wrong color temperature, and I had to switch them for a warmer temperature, which is a lower Kelvin temperature. I would advise that cold lights in the kitchen are harsh and difficult to work under, at least from my experience. Better to err by having lights that are too warm than too cold.

    LED lights are slightly more efficient and colder temperatures, which is why they are more prevalent, but they are more aesthetic at warmer temperatures. I would only use the cold LED lights outdoors.

    bbstx thanked Lars
  • bbstx

    @Lars <that’s tagging. I believe it causes Houzz to send you an email saying you were mentioned in a post.


    Thank you very much for giving your advice on LED temperatures. I know the 5600K bulb I bought is very harsh, but as I said, I was in a snit when I bought it.


    I have bought LED bulbs for all our outdoor lights primarily because they last so long. I made sure all of my bulbs were a temperature that mimicked incandescent bulbs. However, a neighbor went with very blue-white bulbs. They look very garish, reminiscent of neon.

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  • Oakley

    I'm as stumped as you are, even with the electrician explaining it to me not long ago. Here's what I do know.


    The light bulbs we use are GE Soft White LED. I like them. On the front side of the box it says what replacement the LED is for, 100w, 60w, and so on.


    I use the 100w replacement GE bulb above the kitchen sink and I love it. Because I just ran out of 100w bulbs I can't tell you the lumens or K's, but I have the box of 60w right here which is used in other fixtures.


    GE 60w replacement LED, uses only 10w, 800 lumens, 2700 K. It gives out the perfect clean white light the 100w does.


    I get them at Walmart and I won't change. OTOH, not long ago the electrician was explaining this stuff to me because our LR is on the dark side because of high ceilings and shade trees. He told me we should use 4000k in all the lights because it will make a huge difference. He put an extra bulb in DH's desk lamp and when he showed me the difference I pretended to like it but it was too cold and only gave off light in a small area.


    Have you tried the GE bulbs for your kitchen? One thing I've noticed is when the bulb is getting toward the end of it's life, it gets dimmer.

    bbstx thanked Oakley
  • 3katz4me

    I like 2700 which is like an incandescent bulb. I’ll go as high as 3000 but if it’s over that It quickly becomes too white for my taste. I don’t even like them outdoors but okay in the garage.

    bbstx thanked 3katz4me
  • bbstx

    @Oakley, I’ve pretty much gone to LED bulbs in all of the lamps in the house, but I haven’t changed the ceiling bulbs yet.


    A couple of weeks ago, we had a free energy audit done by the local utility. The auditor brought 6 LED bulbs with him. I noticed they were all in the incandescent color spectrum.


    The exterior soffit lights run from sunset to sunrise. Incandescent bulbs were burning out every 3 - 6 months. When I changed to LED bulbs in the soffit fixtures, I wrote down the date. Next Saturday, it will be 5 years! I think they are a tad dimmer, but that is not surprising considering their age.


    In the post where the PRO recommended 4000K bulbs, we were talking about the kitchen in DDs new house. The cabinets are wood, stained a very reddish color - cherry? While the kitchen will eventually be redone, DD is going to live with it a few years, but would like to paint the walls a color that will tone down the red in the cabinets. I suppose the PRO’s thinking was that 4000K bulbs would also help tone down the red. However, I think they would just look harsh.


    Sort of off topic: I’ve noticed that the price of LED bulbs has gone way down since I bought my first one. I have wall sconces in the entry. I can’t remember the recommended wattage for them, but it was fairly low to protect the silk shades. I wanted more light, so I bought LED bulbs that would give off more light but less heat than an incandescent. I paid over $40 each for those bulbs six years ago. I see on Amazon I can buy 8 for $30 today!



  • DLM2000-GW

    I know that thread and I know that pro and I am 100% in disagreement. All of our bulbs are 2700 or 3000 - 4000 is uncomfortably bright very harsh and not flattering to anyone. Perhaps that should not be part of the equation but let's get real, we all like to look good!

    bbstx thanked DLM2000-GW
  • fouramblues

    If I understand it correctly, Kelvin is an indicator of color/”temperature”, and lumens is an indicator of how much light you’re getting. CRI (color rendering index) is about how true to color the light renders the objects in a room. I like 2700 Kelvin because it’s closest to the incandescents I’m used to (and it’s cozy), and pick the lumens appropriate for the task (dimmers are always nice for this), and tend to ignore CRI because it seems to be maximized when the bulb temp is around 3500, and that’s too cold for me.


    Edited to add: my understanding of CRI is wrong. Apparently it’s completely independent of color temp.

    bbstx thanked fouramblues
  • Oakley

    Bbstx, the kitchen ceiling light has had the same bulb for about 3 years now. Wish I could afford to change he undercabinet lights because they used halogen bulbs and we can't set any bread product under them because they dry out. They help soften butter though. :)

    The 4000 k bulb in DH's lamp reminds me of task lighting. The light only throws down.

    bbstx thanked Oakley
  • bbstx

    I have LED under-counter lights. I’ve had halogen and fluorescent in the past. The LEDs are definitely cooler, but they are not without some heat. The LEDS were a bit pricey when I bought them 6 years ago. I think the prices have come way down on LEDs. You ought to check, @Oakley. You might be pleasantly surprised. And think of all of the money you will save on electricity! (If you need help, I am great at justification!)

  • Annie Deighnaugh

    I think it's a function of how you use your kitchen...if it's primarily a utility space then the whiter lights might be better. But we use our island for entertaining as well and prefer the cozier look of warmer lighting.

    bbstx thanked Annie Deighnaugh
  • lascatx

    I have found that my color preference is similar to Lars -- a bit either side of 3000K, but it can be hardest to find bulbs in that range. I can find 2700K more often and I will not go lower than that and I won't go over 3500k.

    When we walk the dogs at night, it surprises me how many houses have lights on in such different colors through their house. It would drive me bonkers, but I know I see color differently and it has been a thing for me ever since we started getting so many different kinds of bulbs. One has a dining room that is so cold it seems creepy to me, but I guess others don't see it?

    Bbstx, I would go higher in lumens or watt equivalence rather than color temperature if you want better light at the kitchen sink, You don't have to have that blue white light to get better or brighter light.

    ETA: we changed nearly all of our bulbs to LEDs years ago. We started with changing to enclosed can replacements (no dark gaps around the bulbs) in our family room because we needed to get new bulbs for a couple anyway and the trim rings were starting to break. At the time, one store had those for $50-60 each. We pulled the trigger when we found another store had the same exact units for $24. Not only did we notice a drop in the electric bill, we noticed a drop in the temperature in the room during the summer.

    bbstx thanked lascatx
  • robo (z6a)

    A local lighting pro tried to sell me on 4500k undercabinet lighting! It looked like a freaking morgue to me! NO thank you. Maybe it’s the fashion among lighting designers but I’m firmly in the 3000-2700k range. I find a lot of my warm LEDs are overly yellowish and lack a hint of pink/peach that I think incandescents had. I’m going to start looking for that slight bit of pink.


    I love the longevity of LEDs. Changing light bulbs is a very rare annoyance now! I just upgraded my candelabra LEDs in my dining room chandelier. The technology has really come along in 8 years! They are so much brighter and don’t flicker at all when dimmed.

    bbstx thanked robo (z6a)
  • cat_ky

    Before you even decide, please see how the different kelvins change your paint colors. For instance, I had incandescent, and then the lower type with the yellow light led in my dining room and my hallway. The walls in there were turquoise. Since my kitchen is open to these areas, it is also turquoise. In my ceiling lights, I have 4000k, and my walls look turquoise and a perfect match to the paint chip (Sherwin Williams Blue Iris) In my halls with the lower kelvins, everyone that came in thought, I had gold walls in there. The 4000 k has become very popular now, because, it isnt a very blue white, and it isnt the yellow. So many people have kitchens these days with white cabinets and white counters. The more yellow lights make these look a creamier color, where the 4000 show them to be the white they are. Quite honestly, until they messed around with paint and changed all the forumlas etc, I dont think, our old incandescent changed anything, or at least not enough to notice. With the new paints, the lighting has to be just right.

    bbstx thanked cat_ky
  • bbstx

    @robo (z6a) your morgue comment made me laugh!


    Wow @cat_ky, turquoise to gold is quite a skew in colors!

  • cat_ky

    Yes it is. And even more when you dislike gold. :-)

    bbstx thanked cat_ky

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