What Is Tunable White Light and How Can It Help Your Business?

Conventional, artificial office lighting is the stuff of horror movies. That flickering, soul-sapping, eye-scraping lighting that emanates from fluorescent tubes does no one any good. In fact, bad lighting has been proven to place significant strain on people exposed to it for long periods of time, adversely affecting mood, perception and overall psychological well-being. It can also cause eye strain, headaches and other health issues. No business can afford to make its employees less productive, so if you have a lighting problem, you need to address it—fast.

As the country shifts towards energy-efficient LED lighting, there is one type that is particularly beneficial for businesses: tunable white light. With tunable white light, you can initiate human-centric lighting concepts in your business and see productivity and profits blossom.

The benefits of tunable lighting

Tunable white light is LED lighting that has the capability to move from cool (a blueish light, around 6500 Kelvin) to warm (a yellowish light, usually 2000–3000 K) based on a schedule, user-input or ambient light. The advantage of being able to “tune” the color of the white light is that you can more closely match the color of natural light, and therefore reduce the negative impacts of artificial light.

Tunable white lighting counteracts the issues of standard, one-note lights. By removing harsh, unchanging lighting from a workplace and replacing it with tunable lighting, you can alleviate eye strain, improve concentration and increase productivity.

Per the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), tunable white light can help relax or energize occupants, make people feel warmer or cooler depending on the outside temperature, and redefine the look of a space. Additionally, research suggests it can help balance the human circadian rhythm, which in turn can enhance mood, health and alertness.

“Light plays a key role in setting and regulating the body’s biological clock,” says the EERE. “Both the intensity and the spectral content of light can be used to stimulate or suppress the secretion of melatonin and other hormones that in turn affect our mood, alertness and health. Although the exact mechanisms and effects are not yet fully understood, this may be an important consideration for industrial and medical spaces as well as senior-living facilities, prisons, dormitories and high-density housing.”

Extreme blue lighting, at around 17,000 K, has been proven by researchers at the University of Surrey to improve “alertness, performance and evening fatigue,” by lowering levels of melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy.

How to put tunable lighting to work in your business

Tunable lighting can be used in the following ways to improve productivity.

  • Use cooler, blue lighting in the mornings to energize and invigorate your employees, then let the light gradually turn warmer during the day, mimicking the Earth’s revolution around the sun.
  • Consider cooler lighting in spaces where you want employees or customers to feel energized, and warmer lighting in spaces where you want to promote relaxation and encourage feelings of trust and comfort.
  • Tunable white light is infinitely versatile; its flexibility allows it to imitate most light sources and instantly change the look of a space. This makes it ideal for displays or decor that changes regularly, such as a shop window or retail space.

Tunable white light is something every business should seriously consider. From using cooler light to boost office productivity to presenting retail goods in the best possible light, customizing lighting in your business could have many illuminating effects.

Jennifer Tuohy is a “tech-aholic” who is constantly reading about or trying the latest gadgets. From LEDs to smart home products, Jennifer provides useful insight that benefits her readers. To find a selection of tunable LED light bulbs like those Jennifer talks about in this article, visit The Home Depot.