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How to use cool-white CCT LEDs effectively

Posted: 2013/08/19

High CCT (cool-white) CFLs and LEDs are oftentimes criticized for their cold, harsh light. These criticisms, however, mostly come from residential consumers who are accustomed to the warm, yellow glow (2700 K) given off by traditional incandescents and prefer a relaxing atmosphere. Take ourselves away from the residential sector, and we see that neutral and cool white CCTs are preferable in areas where high energy and alertness are required, such as in corporate or industrial settings.

In retail, things can get a little more interesting. Is there an ideal color temperature?

The answer is not as clear-cut because the optimal CCT for a retail installation might depend on the effects that different CCT will have on sales. A warm-white installation might make a storefront more welcoming and cozy, or an interior lit by warm-white LEDs might make the products appear more appealing, or vice versa.

The interior of a Rimowa store here in Beijing utilizes cool-white LEDs very effectively to improve the appearance of its sleek luggage products.

The store's style is very minimalist, with a bright, glossy white used in the interior.
Cool white LEDs accentuate this effect well.

The use of bright, cool-white LEDs allows for stark contrast of
their black luggage products.

Cool-white works particularly well in highlighting their silver luggage products.

It's hard to say that there is an "ideal" color temperature because it all comes down to preference. When performing any lighting installation, perhaps the best (and possibly only sure-fire) way to know is to try installing a light or two of each CCT type!

See here for some stark contrast on how NOT to use cool-white LEDs effectively...

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