For many decades now, the warm, yellow hues of incandescent bulbs have been the industry standard for residential lighting. However, we’ve recently been seeing a shift away from these warm, yellow tones toward cooler, whiter light–specifically, a move from once-standard 2700k color temperature toward 3000k lighting. This trend is being driven by several factors, including the increased availability of LED bulbs, the desire for a more modern look, and even the practical aspect of more people working from home. Let’s take a closer look at this trend to see what we can learn.

Understanding the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale

To understand the significance of this lighting trend, we must first understand that almost no lighting is completely “white”–that in fact, there are many hues within the lighting spectrum. We measure the way these hues appear visually with the Kelvin Color Temperature scale, which ranges between 1000 Kelvin (1000k) to 10,000 Kelvin (10,000k). Lighting on the low end of the scale contains more of the “warmer” colors (yellows, oranges, and reds) while lighting on the high end appears “cooler” because it contains more blue, green, violet, and white light. Thus, lighting at 2700k emits a warmer look, while 3000k appears slightly cooler. (By comparison, natural daylight typically sits between 5700k and 6000k.)

Now, considering the broad spectrum of the Kelvin scale, the difference between 2700k and 3000k doesn’t seem like much–and in fact, the change is subtle. To the naked eye, 3000k appears slightly “less yellow” than 2700k. (Some even refer to it as “crisper” lighting.) But when you replace 2700k with 3000k lighting in a residential setting, it can appear brighter and whiter, more luminous–and it’s something more people are actually starting to ask for.

Why This Shift Is Happening

There’s usually more than one reason why a trend takes shape–and in this case, we can identify at least three factors driving the move from 2700k to 3000k in residential lighting. Let’s look at these briefly.

The End of Incandescent Bulbs

For several years, numerous countries (including the U.S.) have been phasing out the production of incandescent light bulbs in an effort to encourage more energy-efficient options and reduce carbon emissions. As of now, incandescent bulb sales will be banned in the U.S. next year. The most common alternative to incandescent is LED bulbs, which consume far less electricity and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lights. While LED bulbs are made to emit 2700k to resemble incandescent lights, most LED lighting tends to rate cooler on the Kelvin scale. After several years of “exposure” to this lighting, the human eye has become more accustomed to it–even, dare we say, more comfortable with it. In other words, after decades of being acclimated to the warmer hues of incandescent bulbs, we’re getting used to seeing cooler lighting all around.

A Modern Look

Another reason for the shift toward 3000k lighting is that cooler lighting creates a more modern feel in the home. The warm tones of traditional incandescent bulbs have started to feel a bit dated to some, while cool white light evokes a more contemporary feel and makes the room appear brighter (even if the same wattage is used). This is likely why we’re seeing the shift happen more in newer construction homes as well as home renovations, as homeowners seek to bring their spaces into the 21st century.

The Shift to Work-From-Home

When the recent COVID-19 pandemic forced much of the workforce to begin working from home, many have chosen to keep working from home (at least part-time) even after the offices opened back up. Office lighting tends to be brighter and cooler because it creates better focus on the tasks at hand. With the lines now blurred between workspaces and home spaces, 3000k lighting is being used more frequently in residences, especially in home office settings.

Is 2700k Lighting Leaving for Good?

Not likely. First of all, trends tend to ebb and flow in home design, including lighting design, and no one can predict the future with absolute accuracy. Second, there are many settings in which 2700k is still preferred for its calming effects–which is why some designers are using various combinations of 2700k and 3000k lighting to evoke different moods within the home. But the increased demand for 3000k lighting is now consistent enough that we can predict with confidence that this trend is likely to be around for the foreseeable future–even though 2700k lighting probably won’t disappear completely.

Whatever your residential lighting designs call for, illuminico can supply a wide range of lighting solutions that work for your plans. To learn more, contact us here.