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How to buy LED lighting: Common specs explained- Part 02

When you’re ready to make the leap to LED lighting, it can be a little scary. There are a number of different terms and performance metrics that can make a simple thing feel hard.

Let me help you sort through a few of the most common specs, and offer you an easy way out! Today let us talk about common LED lighting terms for visual appeal and color (Part 2).

Common LED lighting terms for visual appeal and color

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7. Color Temperature (CCT)

What does it mean?

Color temperature, officially referred to as Correlated Color Temperature, is a numerical value that indicates the color of light a particular fixture or bulb will emit.

A low number indicates warm light. Think, fireplace or candlelight quality (red and orange hues). A higher number indicates a cooler light like daylight and hospital lighting (whites and blues). Standard ranges are around 2700k on the warm side to over 5000k on the cool side.

Why is this important?

The cooler temperatures (higher numbers) tend to appear "brighter", and often LED manufacturers will use lower wattages at higher color temperatures in order to make their product appear brighter.

If you are changing to LED bulbs in a standard house lamp, restaurant, or hotel setting, a cooler temperature will create a harsh environment, and not set the proper "mood." It is important to know the approximate color temperature range of your existing lighting, so you can find a suitable replacement.

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8. Color Rendering Index (CRI)

What does it mean?

CRI is color rendering index. While a bit complicated and somewhat controversial this, in essence, measures a light source's ability to reflect colors accurately. Low numbers would be in the 40's while 100 would be perfect.

Why is this important?

Have you ever walked through a parking garage that had really "yellow" looking lighting? (see color temperature above) Or old street lighting that made everything look orange? Those light sources had very low CRI ratings, so your beautiful blue shirt, or red pants, or white hat or purple socks (hey, I didn't dress you!) all pretty much looked yellow/ black/ junky.

That might not matter in a tunnel you drive through, but it would certainly matter to a retailer trying to make its product look attractive, or in a parking garage where security is crucial. Imagine trying to describe what someone was wearing to law enforcement if all the clothes looked grey!

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9. Dimmable

What does it mean?

Is the driver inside the LED dimmable? Usually, it will say yes or no, and which system the product dims with.

Why is this important?

LED technology doesn't always communicate well with dimmers. Be sure the lamp you are buying is rated as "dimmable," and which dimming system it is compatible with (0-10v, 3 phase, etc.).