Why Do LED Lights Have to Be So Cold?

75% less energy consumption. 290,000 kWh annual savings. $44,000 of savings in the first year alone.

Those are the kinds impressive stats you see when you visit Tradeforce Tech, a Kitchener-based energy management firm, for a pitch on industrial energy saving projects.

I’m a huge proponent of investing in energy efficiency, and I’m even more so now that I’ve had the opportunity to meet John and Jonathan at Tradeforce and talk about the results they’ve achieved in their projects.

The stats I mentioned in the opening come from a massive LED lighting project. LEDs are often at the forefront of conversations about energy efficient tech, since it’s one of the few everyday investments ordinary people can make in energy-efficiency at their homes and workplaces. Most people can’t easily switch out their heating and cooling equipment, for instance, but they can swap their existing light bulbs for ultra-efficient LEDs no problem.

But I’ve always had a problem with LEDs, and it’s this: they’re cold.

Not cold to the touch, but cold in the temperature of lighting their produce.

Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs emit a warm, orange glow; LEDs typically produce a bluish light. Though bright and efficient, there’s something about LEDs that just doesn’t feel as…comforting.

What I didn’t know is that those ‘cold’ LED lights are just one type of LED available, known as bright whites, and it’s not the only LED available.

Turns out I was buying the wrong ones.

What I should have been looking for are warm whites and soft whites, which produce a yellower hue closer to daylight.

From a technical standpoint, the colour of light is measured in units called kelvins. The higher the number, the whiter and more glaring the light. As an example, the typical yellow-hued incandescent is between 2,700 and 3,500K, while many LEDs are much brighter.

If you’re like me and have a mind for efficiency, but still prefer the comfort of a golden glow, look for LEDs with a lower kelvin count.

One thing to keep in mind is that colour temperature is not equivalent to brightness. Brightness is measured in lumens; one of the benefits of LED lights is the ability to produce far more lumens with far less energy.

EarthLED puts it this way: lumens are to light as gallons are to milk. More lumens mean more light, which necessarily means a brighter light, but not necessarily a bluer light.