Tunable white lighting has allowed spaces to become lit with a range of white light color temperatures that are easily adjusted and all created from the same light fixture.
We take a look at how it works, it’s benefits, what products suit it and where it’s best used.
Table of Contents
Tunable white refers to a light fixture that uses a combination of cool and warm white LEDs to allow the adjustment of the white light color temperature and brightness of the light output.
These lights offer a wide range of color temperatures, typically starting from a warm white (2700K) to cool white (4000K) to daylight white (6500K), allowing you to change the ambiance of a room or space depending on the time of day or activity.
Tunable white lights work by using a combination of cool white and warm white LEDs within the same fixture. By adjusting the intensity of each color, the fixture can produce a wide range of color temperatures. Some tunable white lights also use advanced controls to adjust the light output, such as dimming, scene setting, and color tuning.
There are several advantages of using tuneable white lighting fixtures:
Tunable white lights are versatile and can be used in a variety of interior spaces for different purposes.
For a tunable white light system to work you need a compatible lighting control system or device that can adjust the color temperature and brightness of the light output.
This can be done through a variety of methods, including wall-mounted dimmer switches, mobile apps, bluetooth mesh protocols like Casambi and voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.
Some tunable white lights also come with a remote control that allows you to adjust the light output without the need for a separate control system.
This functionality can be integrated into any lighting fixture that uses LED as it’s source of light. It is more commonly found in commercial lighting, LED strip, ceiling lights, floor lights and bulbs. Some tuning is done on board a product rather than through a remote switch, some allow both.
Here are some typical examples readily available:
When a tunable white light fixture is adjusted from warm to cool white, the color temperature of the light output changes. This is achieved by using LEDs that emit light at different color temperatures, typically a combination of warm and cool white LEDs.
Inside the light fixture, there are two or more sets of LEDs, each emitting light at a different color temperatures, typically from a warm yellowish white of 2700K to 3000K, to cooler bluish-whites of 5000K to 6500K.
When you adjust the light fixture from warm to cool white, the light fixture changes the amount of light output from each set of LEDs to achieve the desired color temperature.
For example, to produce a warm white glow, the fixture will increase the output of the warm white LEDs and reduce the output of the cool white LEDs.
Conversely, to produce a cool white glow, the fixture will increase the output of the cool white LEDs and reduce the output of the warm white LEDs.
The amount of light output from each set of LEDs is controlled by a driver circuit within the light fixture. This circuit adjusts the voltage and current supplied to each set of LEDs to achieve the desired color temperature and brightness level.
To tune the white light output on an LED flexible strip, the LED chip within the strip uses a combination of different colored LEDs and a phosphor coating to generate white light. The LEDs within the chip emit light at different wavelengths, which combines to create the desired color temperature.
The LED chip typically includes two or more sets of LEDs, each emitting light at at a warm white of 2700K to 3000K, which gives a warm, yellowish glow, while cool white LEDs emit light at around 5000K to 6500K, which gives a cooler, bluish-white glow.
The phosphor coating on the LED chip helps to convert some of the blue light emitted by the cool white LEDs into a broader spectrum of white light that matches the desired color temperature.
The phosphor coating is applied over the cool white LEDs and absorbs some of the blue light, re-emitting it as a broader spectrum of light that includes warmer colors.
The combination of the different colored LEDs and the phosphor coating allows the LED chip to produce white light with a wide range of color temperatures, from warm to cool white.
To tune the white light output on an LED flexible strip, the amount of light output from each set of LEDs is controlled by a driver circuit within the strip. This circuit adjusts the voltage and current supplied to each set of LEDs to achieve the desired color temperature and brightness level.
Tunable white and warm dim are two different approaches to adjusting the color temperature of a light source. While they both allow you to adjust the warmth or coolness of the light output, there are some differences in how they work and the effects they produce.
Tunable white provides a wide range of color temperatures to choose from, while warm dim emulates the natural warmth of incandescent lighting as it is dimmed. The choice between tunable white and warm dim depends on the desired lighting effect and the specific needs of the application.
With tunable white, you have full control over the color temperature of the light output, allowing you to create a wide range of lighting environments to suit different tasks or moods.
Warm dim, on the other hand, refers to the ability of a light source to mimic the natural warmth and softness of incandescent lighting as it is dimmed. As a warm dim light source is dimmed, it shifts from a cool white or warm color temperature to a rich very warm white color temperature, emulating the behavior of an incandescent bulb.
LED Tunable white and dimmable lighting are two different ways to adjust the output of a light source, but they have different effects and uses.
Tunable lighting allows you to adjust the color temperature of the light output, typically from warm white (around 2700K) to cool white (around 6500K) or beyond. This is achieved by using LED lights that emit light at different color temperatures, and varying the output of each set of LEDs to achieve the desired color temperature. Tunable lighting is often used in settings where different tasks or moods require different lighting environments, such as in retail, hospitality, or healthcare applications.
Dimmable lighting, on the other hand, allows you to adjust the brightness level of the light output. This is achieved by controlling the amount of electrical current supplied to the light source, either through a dimmer switch or a smart lighting control system. Dimmable lighting is often used in residential, commercial, and hospitality settings to create different lighting scenes, save energy, and extend the life of the light source.
In summary, while tunable lighting allows you to adjust the color temperature of the light output, dimmable lighting allows you to adjust the brightness level. The choice between tunable and dimmable lighting depends on the specific needs of the application and the desired lighting effect.
Casambi is a Bluetooth wireless control interface that can be used to control tunable white lights. Casambi-enabled lighting fixtures can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet using the Casambi app, which allows users to change the color temperature and brightness of the lights, create custom lighting scenes, and set timers and schedules for the lights to turn on and off.
To use Casambi with tunable white lights, you will need to ensure that your light fixtures are compatible with Casambi technology. Many manufacturers now offer Casambi-enabled lighting fixtures, and you can typically find this information on the product specification sheet.
Once you have installed Casambi-enabled tunable white lights, you will need to download the Casambi app on your smartphone or tablet. The app allows you to create and save custom lighting scenes, adjust the color temperature and brightness of the lights, and set timers and schedules for the lights to turn on and off.
While tunable white lighting allows for the adjustment of color temperature to create different lighting environments that can have an impact on mood, productivity, and well-being, circadian lighting goes beyond this to consider the specific needs of the body’s natural biological rhythms. While there is some overlap between these concepts, they are not exactly the same thing.
Circadian lighting, refers to lighting that is designed to support the body’s natural circadian rhythm, which governs our sleep-wake cycles and other biological processes. Circadian lighting takes into account not only the color temperature of the light, but also the intensity and timing of the light exposure.
Circadian lighting systems typically involve dynamic changes in light color and intensity throughout the day and night, mimicking the natural changes in sunlight. The idea is that exposure to the right type and amount of light at the right time can help regulate our sleep-wake cycles, improve mood and cognitive function, and even have health benefits.
Comparing the key projector brightness measurement differences, where 1 ANSI lumen = 0.8 ISO lumens, we explain which one is more important.
LED lighting is revolutionary but using the wrong type of LED light at the wrong time will stimulate melatonin and cause you to awaken rather than sleep
The benefits of mastering lighting design empowers designers to sculpt aesthetically stunning, functionally optimized spaces, transforming any interior.
Quick and easy step by step guide to change a recessed light bulb in the most common types of recessed ceiling lights & tips on removing a stuck bulb
Convert 1100 lumens to watts with this calculation according to efficacy, with example wattages for popular 1100 lumen LED products & the tungsten equivalent.