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Lighting – why your bulb is the most critical consideration.

By November 19, 2020Home

As the evenings get shorter, our dependence on artificial lighting grows. How we light our rooms can have a powerful effect on ambience – how the space makes us feel. So it is worth taking the time to get it right. I chatted with lighting expert Rocky Wall of Wink to find out why the light bulbs we choose are so critical to a successful lighting scheme.

Colour temperature

Colour is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about lighting, but the colour temperature of the bulbs you choose can make or break your interior scheme. ‘This is especially true with LED lighting,’ says Wall. ‘Making sure the colour temperature of your light source is consistent is very important,’ he explains, ‘especially where there are different suppliers involved.’

In an open-plan kitchen, for example, you might have three different locations where LED lighting is being used. Under the kitchen cabinets, in the joinery units and in a ceiling. Three different people will likely supply these three light sources. If the colour temperature is not the same for each one, you might end up with one being a warm tone and the others being a harsh white. ‘This creates a mishmash of colour which won’t look good,’ says Wall.

To avoid this, it’s best to ensure you specify that the LED throughout the room comes from the same lighting supplier. This is the only way to be sure the colour will be consistent throughout the room. 

The same goes for the bulbs in your lamps and pendant lights. Your choice of light bulb is critical as the colour of the lighting can completely affect the look and feel of your décor.

‘It’s essential the colour temperature of the bulbs is right,’ says Rocky. Colour temperature is measured in degrees Kelvin. Any bulb between 2,400-2,700K will be warm, 2,700-3,500K will be lukewarm, and anything over 3,500-4,000K will be cool. Most good bulb brands will display these ratings on the box. And when shopping for bulbs ‘if you don’t recognise the manufacturer’s name don’t buy it,’ warns Wall because there is a lot of rubbish out there,’ he warns. 

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Calm Room

Warm or cool?

The task you need to perform and the atmosphere you want to create in the room will dictate the colour temperature of the bulb you should choose. 

Suppose you want to create a relaxing atmosphere, in a bedroom, for example. In that case, you should use a warm colour temperature bulb.

The colour of the bulb you choose will not only affect your decor, but it will also have an impact on how you look. ‘Avoid cool colour temperature bulbs in hallways,’ warns Wall. ‘Cool temperature bulbs will make you and your guests look pasty and pale, always go for warm colour temperature in a hallway instead. They are much more welcoming and flattering,’ he explains.

There is one room where you should consider a cool colour temperature bulb, however, and this is your home office or study space. ‘The colour temperature of your light bulbs will stimulate the mind in different ways,’ explains Wall. ‘The mind finds it easier to concentrate in a daylight scenario, which is why many offices are lit with cool colour temperature bulbs. ‘Putting warm colour temperature bulbs in an office space will send signals to the brain it’s time to wind down,’ he adds. So choosing a cool colour temperature bulb for your home office will help with focus and productivity. 

If you are struggling to get enough daylight into a space in your home, you might want to consider choosing a fitting that can change from cool to warm throughout the day. An example would be in a period house where the kitchen and lighting space is in the basement. Using a dynamic light source will allow you to light the room with white light during the day to replicate daylight. And then will get warmer as evening turns into night time to create a more relaxing atmosphere. 

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Bluetooth bulbs are a great way to give you multiple colour temperature options from one light source. These bulbs are the ideal solution if, for example, your home office space is located in a room you also use to relax, like a living space or bedroom. With a Bluetooth bulb, you can control the colour temperature by an app on your mobile phone. You can choose to have a cool colour temperature when you’re working and then change it to warm for the evening when you want to wind down. 

You can now also get Bluetooth switches. These are switch plates that don’t have any battery or cabling. They look like standard light switches, but the kinetic energy generated from pressing the switch is sufficient to create a bluetooth signal to turn on or off the light source. 

You nominate which lamp the switch controls using an app on your mobile phone. ‘All of the lighting producers are getting involved in this technology which makes it so accessible,’ says Wall. ‘You can even buy a Bluetooth bulb from IKEA,’ he explains. The big advantage with Bluetooth lighting controls is that anyone can easily and affordably create a lighting control system at home themselves.’ 

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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