Lighting, Light Bulbs, Paint Colors and You

Getting ready to paint? Might want to check out your light bulbs first.  Paint colors and lighting are intertwined; always my first consideration in design and staging consults.

Paint color anchors a room, and nothing determines how paint color reads like lighting. But most of us don’t connect the two, or understand the terminology so we can choose well: Watts, lumens. Cool or warm; soft white, bright white or daylight? Who is this guy Kelvin, and CFLs-just why? Hey, this is my field, and its a lot for me to keep up on…so I sought out a pro.

Eros Corpus Owner of Batteries + Bulbs White Plains NY

Meet Eros Corpus. A friend and colleague, he and his wife Jennifer opened White Plains’ Batteries Plus Bulbs in 2012 after his successful real estate career.

They carry today’s basics, “PLUS” the harder to find, “PLUS” state-of-the-art products. Better? The irresistible combination of immediate and personal service. Best? the buying power of 700+ franchises behind them. They recycle, they repair, and know their stuff, while making it easy for you to understand too.

Wattage is power consumed, lumens how much light it gives off. So- lower wattage, higher lumens light bulbs will be brighter and more energy efficient.

Incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, CFL, and LED: Different generations of technologies within the bulbs, each with generations of improvements.

  • Incandescents: The 1.0 residential light bulbs…soft light, fragile filaments, not so energy efficient.
  • Fluorescents  were-still are-the industrial 1.0 Best known for giving off stark, and unflattering light, they’ve evolved, now available in both softer, and truer light tones.
  • Halogens followed. Popular for their sleek appearance, they were not efficient or safe. These light bulbs got physically hot fast, could spontaneously shatter, or cause fires if they got too close to other materials.
  • Swirly CFLs swung the pendulum:  Ugly, they gave off cold light, and were slow to reach maximum brightness. But DARN they were efficient. They’re now available in warmer tones, but are still ugly and slow.
  • LEDs,  currently the most popular technology. Normal looking, and more efficient than any of its predecessors, it comes in most shape bulbs, and in all 3 tones.

Light bulb tones: Chance photo of local condo at right demonstrates differences:

  • Soft White: (Top) Visually warm, gives off good overall light.  Flattering to warmer colors, best in personal spaces where you want to relax: LR, Family Rooms, BRs
  • Cool White:  (Bottom) Whiter, brighter, but not harsh. Good task lighting for kitchens, desk tops, offices and grooming spaces like BAs. Complements cool-toned paint/furnishings, warms up rooms with northern exposures.
  • Daylight: (Middle) Very bright, with a blue undertone. Good overall light for industrial spaces, also for cooler toned paint/furnishings.

Under ‘Fun Facts’-that is, not hugely important for most consumers to know, but good Jeopardy answers:

Codes in a letter-number format reflect light bulbs physical shape and measurements. The lighting industry standardizes these things, so it’s more clarifying/technical…not something you have to decide on. Like Cinderella, the right shape/size bulb will be the only one that fits that fixture.

  • “A” is the most familiar household shape, number is diameter of base, measured in 1/8″ increments.  So an A-19 is is 19 x1/8″ i.e. 2-3/8″. wide
  • “E” prefix refers to the angled, screw-in base, named for it’s inventor, Thomas Edison.  The number is base diameter in millimeters.

Last, the Kelvin scaleUsed largely by scientists/physicists/engineers, it could be a post in itself. Measuring color temperature its numbers inexplicably (for me anyway) start at 2500K for warmer, soft white bulbs, to 5000K or more for cooler-tones daylight bulbs.

The Refreshed Home is Westchester County’s design consultancy. Buying, selling, or staying and improving: We help untangle, and and put things in perspective so you can make good decisions and get on with your life. We also love questions, so give us a shout if we can help!  Meantime, here are more ways to choose the right paint colors.