Warm glow, soft white, bright white, daylight, daylight deluxe – the variety of colors of light bulbs on the market today has never been greater or probably more confusing. Often not much thought goes into choosing one color over another beyond a particular preference, or maybe trying to get one that matches the others in the room. But each color has a different function, and knowing and harnessing those functions can have a positive impact not just on the room itself, but even on your health.
One strategy used to select the right color light bulb has its roots in cycles of the sun. The color of light coming from the sun changes throughout the day, from a warm, orangish-glow in the early morning, to a cool blue during the daytime, then back to a soft glow at night. Circadian lighting is designed to match those patterns of the sun in order to enhance sleep during the night and productivity during the day. Research studies suggest that implementing this type of lighting has a positive impact not only on sleep and productivity, but stress, depression, and a multitude of other ailments.
If we’re matching the light of the sun, warm-colored bulbs should be in rooms where we spend time in the mornings and evenings. These rooms – living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms – should be an intimate and cozy warm white, or 2700 Kelvin (often labeled Soft White).
Bathrooms and kitchens should be a touch brighter, but still one that’s soft and calming – around 3000 Kelvin (often labeled Bright White). If you work from home, the light bulbs in your home office should be brighter yet as this is where you are during the middle of the day – around 5000 Kelvin (often labeled Daylight).
Keep it Cool
No matter the time of day, task lighting needs to be cooler in color. For example, most reading lights have daylight-colored bulbs (5000 Kelvin) as this light contrasts the black type against the white pages, making it easier to read. This same color bulb should also be used around mirrors in bathrooms as it allows women to see what makeup will look like outside.
Bright White bulbs (around 3500 Kelvin) should be in undercabinet lighting for accuracy with food preparation. Closet light bulbs should also be close to 3500 Kelvin to see true colors of clothes.
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Garages and pantries need even cooler light, around 4100 Kelvin (Cool White bulbs). This clean crisp lighting allows for safety on projects and close examination of food and food packaging.
Save the 6500 Kelvin light bulbs (often labeled Daylight Deluxe) for your greenhouse as that color is brighter than broad daylight.
Light Color and Paint
It’s best to choose paint colors for a room based on the color of the light bulbs in that room. Paint swatches you pick as favorites under the florescent light fixtures of the hardware store might be less desirable when placed under the light in the room you intend to paint. For example, a wall that is white under 3200 Kelvin might look green under 4000 Kelvin light.
The Latest Technology
A new kind of LED blub lets you choose between warm and cool light at will. For example, these bulbs allow you to change the color of light over your dining room table to a cool temperature for bill paying or homework, and then to a warmer one to relax and dine.
Let nature be your guide
This spring let nature be your guide to inspiration and health, even when it comes to something as seemingly unrelated as the color of light.