What color temperature of lamps do you use?

janesylviaMarch 24, 2013

I saw Home Depot sells Cree LED light bulbs today with color temperature of 2700K (warm light) and 5000K (day light). I have skylight in each bathroom. So during the day, it has natural daylight.

Is it good to choose the vanity top lamp with daylight color (5000K) to match the bathroom lighting during the day? Besides lamps above vanity, I am thinking of putting a recessed LED light (5000K?) above shower and tub/shower. In short, what color temperature of lamps is best for a bathroom (no need to turn on lights during the day due to the skylights)?

Thank you very much.

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We have 2700. I find anything above that to be too blue. Maybe you could buy one of each and try them out in a closet to see which color you prefer.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 10:08AM
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janesylvia, Although color temperature is an important factor, color rendition (of which color temperature is one component) is at least as important in determining how you will look in the mirror of the bathroom, and whether your make-up will look the same to others when you leave the bathroom as it did to you when you touched it up under the lights in the bathroom. The standard measurement for color rendition is CRI (= Color Rendition Index), where the number is expressed as a percentage of faithfulness to matching a standard tungsten filament incandescent light, with 100 being the highest possible score. (Interestingly, that means that some "full spectrum" bulbs that attempt to mimic sunlight -- for instance to combat SAD -- have lower CRI numbers than some supermarket CFLs.)

The role color rendition plays relative to color temperature alone is complex, but generally a 2700 degree K LED bulb, for instance, will give a more pleasing rendition than a 2700 degree K compact fluorescent. CFLs, generally, have a few "spikey" hot frequencies with little light output at frequencies between the spikes, while incandescents and LEDs will have broader, smoother curves of output vs. frequency.

Two completely unrigorous but easily comprehended sources for more information on this are: (1) the user reviews of the Philips L-Prize LED light bulb on amazon.com [http://www.amazon.com/Philips-423244-10-Watt-60-Watt-L-Prize/dp/B007RKVT4C/] and (2) Ott-Lite's explanation of its "508" high definition technology, which you can find in various places through use of a search engine. (Ott-Lite, OTOH, has some of the least informative specifications of any major light bulb maker; it seems to obscure vital specs like lumen output and CRI everywhere.)

FWIW, we use Lowe's UltiliTech 3000K LED bulbs in our powder room, and find their color rendition to be just about right; IIRC, 2700K is called "soft" white, while 3000K is called "warm" white, and anything above 5000K is called "daylight."

Here is a link that might be useful: This is a 3000K bulb, but how would you know?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 7:14PM
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abfabamy, thank you very much for your help.

Herring_maven, really appreciate your very detailed information. I went to Home Depot and bought Cree 60W warm white (2700K) and daylight (5000K) dimmable LED bulbs, very good price. Compared to 2700K, I like the 5000K ones better in the bathroom. Cree does not have 3000K bulbs. But ecosmart has, which is more expensive. I might try it. I will also try your Lowes's UtiliTech 3000K LED bulbs.

The bulbs do not have CRI number indicated. I bought CREE 2700K 6" recessed LED lights with CRI of 90 for living room and family room. Very nice.

For the 4" recessed LED bulb that I plan to be installed above shower stall, I'll go for either 2700K Cree or 3000K Halo.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 11:16PM
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The Cree CR4 and CR6 recessed lights (including the Home Depot EcoSmart-branded versions) have a CRI of 90 or above, at least in the 2700K versions I've used.

I've found 5000K daylight-balanced lamps work well if you want a daytime light-through-windows look at night, but the effect only works if the lighting is bright. Dim 5000K light bulbs look like a gloomy overcast day IMO.

I have one of the (expensive) Philips L-Prize bulbs, and despite the high CRI (93 if i recall correctly), I don't find the light it gives off to look all that amazing. I much prefer the Ikea Ledare 400 and 600 lumen (40w and 60w replacement respectively) bulbs whose light to my eyes is indistinguishable from incandescent bulbs.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:02AM
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One other note about color temperature - I find that white or grey rooms are the most likely to look good with 5000K daylight bulbs. Rooms with brown wood cabinets almost always look better with warm 2700K lighting, 3500K max.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:04AM
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