LED lighting is quickly dominating the market and becoming the standard in new home construction. As the technology continues to improve, manufacturers are offering a wide range of features and functionality built into these energy efficient, high performance fixtures aimed to provide the same experience as incandescent or halogen lightbulbs. Other features and design options include replicating any color on the full color spectrum, programming a light schedule based on geographic location, and ultra-shallow housings allowing more precise light delivery in any space.
Here are a few terms to add to your LED lighting repertoire.
This is the measure of light temperature. The lower the number, the warmer the light feels. Standard color temperatures are 2700k, 3000k, 3500k, 4000k, and 5000k. In our homes, where we want the space to feel more comfortable and inviting, we use the warmer color temperatures of 2700k and 3000k. These resemble the incandescent and halogen lamps we are accustomed to, and are often referred to as warm white, or soft white.
Color Rendering Index (CRI)
Not all light is created equal. Quality white light is made up of a full spectrum of colored light – every color of the rainbow. When we see color on an object, such as a green leaf, or a red ball, what we are actually seeing is that color of light being reflected off of that object. Natural sunlight is considered the benchmark when it comes to accurately showing the color of objects, so we would say it has a Color Rendering Index, or CRI, of 100. A CRI of 80 to 85 is fine for an office, but in places where color matters, 90 CRI and higher are essential.
There are many ways to measure light, but the one most commonly used is lumens. Lumens are the amount of light given off by a source. In general, more lumens means more light. An 800 lumen lamp is about the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb, while a 1600 lumen lamp is closer to a 100 watt bulb. Some manufacturers call this flux, or luminous flux.
This feature allows you to adjust the color temperature of an LED light fixture to replicate any white on the kelvin scale. With customized lighting programs, a schedule can be designed to start your day matching the color temperature of the outside and as the day progresses soften to a warmer, more relaxing glow such as 2700K.
Warm–dim is the new name for something lights have pretty much always done. When we dim an incandescent or halogen lamp, the color of that light changes from a yellow-white to a yellow-orange very warm light. It can make a space feel closer and more intimate. Until recently, LED fixtures couldn’t do this; as the lamp dimmed, it remained at a fixed color temperature, which sometimes felt cold. More and more manufacturers are adding the warm-dim feature, making fixtures that have the same warm glow of an incandescent or halogen lamp. This feature can also be called warm-glow or dim-to-glow.
Part of the fun of LED lighting is the ability to play with color. Some fixtures have the ability to make any color you want – team colors for a sporting event, or a holiday theme, or just to suit a mood. These fixtures are commonly called RGB or RGBW since they are made up of red, green and blue, or red, green, blue and white LEDs. The difference between RGB and RGBW is that RGB fixtures can make any color, or hue, but an RGBW fixture can also change the value, allowing pastels and softer colors to be created through the addition of white light.
Dimmers & Drivers
Dimmers are great for setting a mood and adding flexibility to lighting. Many LED fixtures can be dimmed to very low levels – 5% of visible light is common, and some are going as low as 1% or even .1%. In order to dim correctly, the fixture’s driver, or transformer, needs to be compatible with the dimmer used to control it. There are several standard dimming and control methods used in LED lighting (ELV/Phase dimming, TRIAC, 0-10volt, DALI, EcoSystem, DMX, PWM) and most manufacturers will show what their fixture will work with or offer driver options in the case of a configurable fixture.
With LED lighting quickly evolving, staying attuned to the advancements and feature sets can lend itself a challenging task. By partnering with a trusted team of lighting professionals we can guarantee your projects incorporate the right lighting design, fixture specification and lighting controls to deliver an exceptional experience.
Whether you’re a homeowner starting a new project or design-build professional interested in learning more about the many LED fixture brands we supply, we encourage you to schedule a meeting with us today. Click here to schedule.