Color temperature and wattage selectable LEDs [Pros and cons]
Posted by Ron Pilner on
LED technology has brought about new innovations and more options in the lighting industry. Manufacturers are constantly coming out with new products that give the consumer more options.
One of those recent innovations: Color and wattage selectable LED fixtures.
While color selectable fixtures have been around for a while, being able to select the wattage is a relatively new feature.
The biggest benefit of these fixtures is flexibility. You can easily customize the fixtures to fit your needs on site, which can help save time and money during the design process.
We're taking a look at how they work, the pros and cons, and how to shop for the best options.
Understanding basic lighting terms
If you need a refresher on lighting terms or an overview of the basics, here are helpful definitions you need to know as they relate to color and wattage selectable LEDs.
Color temperature - A gauge of how yellow or blue the color of light emitted from a light bulb appears. Warm light sources, such as incandescent bulbs, have a low color temperature (2200-3000K) and appear more yellow or orange. Cool light sources, such as some HID or fluorescent lamps, have a high color temperature (>4000K) and appear more blue.
CRI - While you can't change CRI (color rendering index) on selectable fixtures, it's an important term to know when you're purchasing lighting. CRI is used to predict how well light output will render a color. The metric is a number between 0 and 100. The closer to 100, the true colors should look under the light.
Wattage - The amount of power a light fixture uses, measured in watts. Generally, LEDs consume fewer watts than traditional incandescent or fluorescent fixtures. Generally, the higher the wattage, the brighter the light.
How do color and wattage selectable lighting products work?
Instead of ordering fixtures with a specific color temperature or wattage, color and wattage selectable LEDs allow you to change settings on site. Most of these fixtures are adjustable with a switch or dial.
A few examples of color and wattage section switches from various manufacturers are shown below. These may be located on the outside of a replacement bulb, inside a fixture or retrofit kit, or on the outside of a fixture housing.
It's recommended to select the CTT and wattage before the fixture is fully installed. They can be adjusted later if needed, but it may require labor to open or remove fixtures to change the settings.
When you select the color temperature, you are focused on how warm or cool the light appears. When you select the wattage, you are selecting the lumens (brightness) of the fixture. Selecting these settings in the field allows you to see what the light actually looks like in the space.
Pros and cons for color and wattage selectable products
While color and wattage selectable LEDs are a technological advancement, the products may not be a perfect fit for every application. Here's a look at the pros and cons.
- Design flexibility - When you can change and control the color temperature and wattage, you have the ability to control lighting within spaces. The lighting can truly be a reflection of the room's design and ambiance. During the design process, there are typically a lot of mock-ups, testing, and color matching. Having the ability to change the color temperature on site can be a game changer.
- Adaptability - During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the function and use of rooms change to meet new needs. Color and wattage selectable fixtures are adaptable, so they can change as the use of a space changes.
- Color matching - We've noticed a trend with LEDs - there tend to be problems with color consistency. Different manufacturers or different products may have slight variations. Using color and wattage selectable LEDs may help solve for this problem and create a more cohesive look. (Note: Color selectable is different than color tunable lighting.)
- Less risk - The risk is lower for wattage and color selectable LEDs for a couple of reasons. First, there is less risk with the design since you have the flexibility and adaptability to change the settings. Second, there is less risk for you to hit power capacity. You can easily lower the wattage to save energy.
- Price - Color and wattage selectable LEDs are typically about 10% more expensive than other LED fixtures.
- Efficiency - Although LEDs are overall more energy efficient than traditional fixtures, color and wattage selectable fixtures require twice the number of LEDs to provide a wider range of options. If you choose a lower color temperature (more warm), you will likely get fewer lumens per watt, so the fixture uses more wattage to get a higher output.
- Complexity - More options often creates more complexity. Learning how to adjust and install the fixtures may take more time up front.
Do color and wattage selectable products qualify for rebates?
Rebates are often particular to the products, so as with any rebate, it's important to read the fine print before you make a purchase.
Most color and wattage selectable product do qualify for rebates, but the wattage may need to be "locked in" so it's not adjusted later. For example, you can't set the wattage low to qualify for a rebate and then spike up the wattage later.
Our team of lighting experts frequently manages lighting rebates and can help you in the process. Contact us if you need help finding qualifying products for rebates.
Where to buy color and wattage selectable products
We have several color and wattage selectable products available on our website, shop.regencylighting.com. This is an easy purchasing option if you know your specifications, know how they will work in your facility, or you are reordering a product.
If you need a little more guidance, help with a rebate, or are working on a larger project, we recommend talking with one of our lighting experts. Our team is always here to find the right product for your application.