temperatures has evolved over time. Early LEDs
often used high color temperature values because
they were more energy-efficient, notes Karlicek.
However, as LEDs became more sophisticated
and LED chips and packaging materials improved,
LEDs could be highly efficient over a wide range
of color temperatures. This led to tunable lighting
technologies that allow facilities managers to adjust
lighting style throughout the day.
“Almost all the color tunable fixtures that are
Linking Tunable Lighting
available for commercial applications have differ-
ent kinds of LEDs in them, and the control system
can blend different color temperature LEDs in the
fixture to deliver the desired color temperature,”
explains Karlicek. “Depending on the number of
color temperatures you put in there and the range
covered, that tuning curve can be rather smooth or
On top of all the energy efficiency benefits LED
lighting provides, the ability to control color tem-
peratures and have a direct impact on a work envi-
ronment is exciting for facility managers. However,
the exact potential of tunable lighting is only par-
The differences between color temperature set-
tings might be easy to notice in some systems, but
the health benefits that many manufacturers claim
are more difficult to identify.
Most lighting manufacturers aim to make tunable
lighting as natural as possible by mimicking sunlight.
By matching the light throughout the day, the goal is
to regulate circadian rhythms and melatonin production, which both have links to health and wellness.
Sorting through the Facts and
Fiction of Tunable Lighting
LED lighting has opened new avenues for facility managers, especially concerning energy efficiency. Newer to the field is tunable lighting, which allows
users to adjust lighting color temperature for different conditions and
possible improvements of occupant
As researchers understand more about this tech-
nology and manufacturers capitalize on it, a gulf in
understanding is emerging about tunable lighting.
With tunable lighting becoming a fixture in the
lighting marketplace, it’s important to sort through fact
and fiction. Overcome the misconceptions and identify
whether tunable lighting is right for your facility.
Flexibility and LED Lighting
Color temperature has emerged as an important
metric in lighting. It’s closely aligned with workplace
comfort, with warmer (lower) color temperatures
often used to improve relaxation and cooler (higher)
color temperatures used to improve concentration.
LEDs and other solid state lighting (SSL) options have
unlocked a wide range of color temperatures available
for use in facilities.
“With solid state lighting, it’s possible to create
LEDs with different color temperatures and corresponding spectral power distributions (a better measure than color temperature, but harder to grasp) anywhere from 2200K to 7000K,” explains Bob Karlicek,
Director of Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications
(LESA), a National Science Foundation engineering
research center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The application of LED lighting at various color