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  • Writer's pictureKristina Browning

Lightbulb temperatures and dimming ability

Windows and artificial light together combine to help us function and do what we need to do every day and night. I suggest using whiter hue lightbulbs in the kitchen if you have overhead lights and a warmer hue in the dining room on a dimmer so when company comes over, you can create an evenly lit relaxing evening with just the right ambiance, but when you are in full cook mode making Christmas cookies, you can have ample bright lights for the work being done without straining your eyes. The lower the temperature of the light, the more cozy and homey it feels. This is often something you don’t notice if it’s done correctly. All you are aware of is that this space feeeeels goooood.

Go in your kitchen and look up. Do you have different lights connected to different switches? I recommend having recessed lighting with a brighter bulb that you can turn on when it’s food prep or project time. Another set can be under the cupboards or shelving, creating downward lighting onto our countertops and this can be warmer to match the dropped lights that may be above your island or at your bar, if you have those things. Dimmers can be on the dropped lights as well.

Now, lets focus on the lightbulbs themselves. The rule of thumb is, the lower the temperature of the light is, the more comfortable you will feel. That’s not to suggest that you need to function in the dark…but warmly lit rooms embrace you and they encourage you to linger, slow down, breathe more deeply. I’m a huge fan of dimmer switches…the more you can control the mood in your home, the less stressful it will feel. Want to change the energy to lure in the family for dinner? Drop the lighting down a bit and turn on some BiIlie Holiday radio by Pandora. If you are changing gears to tackle a big science project in the kitchen, you can turn the dimmer up full blast! There are many options for long lasting and dimmer friendly bulbs these days, thankfully.

For a quick minute, let’s go over terminology so we are speaking the same language.

Watts are the amount of power a bulb consumes. If you've made the switch to LED bulbs, you should be more concerned with lumens instead of watts.

Incandescent bulbs use far more power than LED bulbs. For example, a 60W incandescent bulb emits less light than a 60W LED bulb. So if you were to replace a 60W incandescent bulb, you'd be looking for an 8W or 12W LED bulb to get roughly the same brightness.

The color of the bulb is denoted by a Kelvin rating (usually 2,700 to 6,500) and you’ll usually see a descriptive name on the packaging since not everyone knows what the Kelvin rating equates to, such as soft white or daylight.

Here's a breakdown of light bulb color temperature:

  • Soft white (2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin) is warm and yellow, the typical color range you get from incandescent bulbs. This light gives a warm and cozy feeling and is often best for living rooms, dens and bedrooms.

  • Warm white (3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin) is more yellowish-white. These bulbs are best suited for kitchens and bathrooms.

  • Bright white (4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin) is between white and blue tones. With a less cozy and more energetic feel, bulbs with this color range are best for work spaces (like a home office or garage)

  • Daylight (5,000 to 6,500 Kelvin) has a more bluish tone. This light color will maximize contrast for colors, making it ideal for working, reading or applying makeup.

When choosing light bulbs for a room, think of what you normally do in that space and buy bulbs for that purpose. That means if you see a 16 pack of bulbs on sale, do not buy them assuming all bulbs are created equal. The comfort of your home depends on you choosing the right color bulb for each space and they WILL BE different.

Here’s a problem I want you to know about so you can avoid it:

With an old fashioned incandescent bulbs, dimming is simple, since the brightness of a the bulb is directly related to the voltage applied. The same isn't always true with LEDs, however. If you use an LED bulb with an incandescent dimmer switch, you may find that the bulb:

  • Doesn't turn on at all.

  • Only works at 100 percent brightness.

  • Turns on but hums or buzzes - super annoying

  • Flickers at specific or all dimmer levels.

There is also a chance the LED works fine but shuts off below a certain brightness level.

LED bulbs are more complex. And just because one LED dims just fine with one type of dimmer, that doesn't ensure it will work with others.

  • The good new is there are LEDs that are dimmable and they will be labeled as dimmable on the packaging. If it doesn’t say “dimmable,” assume it isn't.

  • While some LEDs work with your existing dimmers, it's suggested that when you upgrade to LEDs, you should also upgrade to LED-specific dimmers… don’t loose sleep over this- but if you are installing dimmers, know you can choose LED specific ones,.

Questions to ask yourself about your home Space and your Reason

  1. Do I have Bright white bulb in or around my bedroom or where I sleep (4,000 to 6,500 Kelvin) with white and blue tones? It should have a number next to the letter K on the bulb if you aren’t sure.

  2. Is your living room lit to give you comfort and pleasure that comes from being in good company in front of the fire with something delicious? Or when hosting a gathering, do people never even make it to your living room? Could this be because the light isn’t right?

  3. What room are people drawn to in your home when you have a gathering? How is it lit? Do you have any floor lamps or table lamps?

  4. Do you have more than one lighting recipe for your kitchen and family rooms? You should. Because your kitchen can move from a major project, like canning peaches or making jam, to hosting a dinner party, There should be a version of lighting that is bright white (4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin) and then you should be able to shut down those lights and turn on something more warm and calm. This makes two different lighting options for two different purposes.

  5. Instead of window treatments, where can you incorporate window film or greenery outside to shield the neighbors home or passerby’s from seeing into your home? For higher windows, sometimes you don’t need window treatments at all!

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