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LIGHTING 101: Selecting the right light bulbs for your home

Most of us have noticed that our light bulb options are changing. The old soft white and bright white incandescent options are now replaced with LED look-a-likes. Many of us have thought that the color of the light relates to the type of fixture; LED, fluorescent, halogen, or incandescent- but this is not the case.

All light has a color temperature. So, if you match the color temperature, you match the light colors. Color temperature is measured in kelvin (remember from high school chemistry?) This is a measure of the frequency of the light wave, as it travels. A higher frequency equals a more blue light, a lower frequency means a warmer light.

How many of us have bought a new bulb, only to put it in and realize that the light color is to blue or too warm, compared to the rest of the bulbs in your home?

This is because you selected a bulb that has a different color temperature than the rest of the bulbs in your home. This decision is exponentially more important now that our LED bulbs offer a lifespan that will last our young children through college!

Here is a table that describes the 5 basic 'colors' of bulbs that are available:

In the homes that I design, I typically select 2700 K or 3000 K. However, this selection is made or kept in mind as we select colors and materials. The color temperature has a dramatic effect on how the materials you select look when they are installed. It seems like we would be most amenable to a color temperature that is most similar to daylight, but this is rarely the case.

Who has picked a paint color from a local home improvement store and painted it in their home only to find it looks completely different?

This because the light color in the store, is reflected and/or absorbed by the paint color and is perceived by your eye differently, depending on the color temperature of the light.

So...How do you select the right color for your home?

Experiment in one room of your home:

1) Evaluate the color temperature of existing LED fixtures (ceiling fans, chandeliers, recessed canned lights that are LED cannot be altered) If you have a fixture that already is LED, stick with that color, if you are keeping the fixture.

1) pick a room that has a combination of natural light and artificial light, and preferably one that has a dimmer switch for at least one of the bulbs

2) replace all artificial sources of light with the same color temperature (this information is located on the packaging and the bulbs) If you do not fill the entire room with just one color temperature, your perception will be distorted by the comparison of the other light temperatures

3) experiment during different times of the day

4) Experiment with different wattages or lumens. Many mistake a blue light for a bright light, but this is a misconception.

Wattage and/or lumens dictates how bright the light is, so a higher wattage gives you more light from the bulb. The higher the number the brighter the light.

No matter what color temperature you select- Commit to it! All bulbs and fixtures should coordinate to create a consistent look throughout your home.

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