3 Kinds of Light – Choosing the right mix of LEDs

One essential (but neglected) aspect of your home’s lighting design is the right mix of brightness levels. You want to be able to chill in comfort – in the exact same space where you’ll also very probably eat, read, watch TV or even work from home.

That means your LED lights really need to be designed and installed with flexibility in mind.

Background vs Feature vs Working Lights

At InStyle, whenever we’re working on a new LED project, we start by splitting its light-sources between three different light levels:

  • Background light
  • Feature light
  • Working light

Depending on the location and its range of uses, a project may need one, two or all three types of lighting. Let’s discuss each in a little more detail below.

Crisp cool white under-cabinet LEDs

Background Lighting

Flat, even lighting. Background light is the equivalent of traditional home ceiling light sources. LEDs can provide this kind of illumination easily and efficiently (we recommend warm white 5W or 10W LED tapes for the purpose, depending on the size of the location) – but to get full advantage from the possibilities LEDs offer, you’ll want to consider adding Feature lights and Working lights too.

Feature Lighting

Accent or decorative lighting. These are the lights that give your room warmth and detail. Use brighter LEDs to highlight fixtures and points of interest, and more subtle LEDs to add texture. Feature lights can include plinth and under-cabinet LED tapes in kitchens, drop ceilings, LED spotlights and LED colour strip lights in living rooms, or cool white highlights in bathrooms to pick up mirrors and porcelain surfaces.

Rich amber LEDs warm the room

Warm white LEDs brighten this shower room

LED under-cabinet and over-cabinet highlights

Working Lighting

Lights to let you see clearly and concentrate. Working lights are bright and focused on locations where you need to see what you’re doing.

Your LED working light needs to fit with your task. Kitchen countertops need bright uniform lights for food preparation. If you’re reading in bed, then some well-placed working light will stop you straining your eyes. In a workshop environment, good illumination is essential to get the job done right, whether you’re doing car maintenance or DIY. And with the number of people freelancing and working from home skyrocketing over the past five years, there’s a lot of us who want to create a professional-standard office space at home.

Colouring In with LEDs

Most LED home lighting projects are built around white LEDs. But even with white light, there are still choices to be made. The majority of our customers like white light with a warm (rich, earthy yellow) tint, which matches traditional halogen lights – especially in living spaces, dining rooms and bedrooms. But for kitchens or bathrooms, office spaces, or for very contemporary homes, you can think about using cool whites instead.

Cool white working light for food preparation

White light is measured on the colour temperature (Kelvin) scale, with warm whites rating approximately 3000 Kelvin and cool whites around 5000 Kelvin. Warm whites are great for relaxing, while cooler shades produce better light to work by. For comparison, overhead daylight is rated at roughly 5000k.

For feature lighting, LEDs let you do far more with colours. You can add single-colour accent lights in red, green, blue or amber – or why not give yourself more control and more possibilities by installing InStyle’s colour changing LED strip lights? Available in RGB or RGBW versions, these brilliant market-leading LED products let you mix light to create literally millions of shades and colours at the touch of an easy-to-use control.

You can learn more about white LED lights, single-colour LEDs and colour-changing LED options in the support section of our website.

Don’t forget:

When planning your LED installation, be sure to figure out how much Background light you’ll need, then boost this with additional Feature and Working lights for highlights and focus.

Not every room needs three kinds of LED lighting. But by breaking your project down like this before you get started, you’ll always know that you’ll have the flexibility you need!

Contemporary LED lighting

Cool white LED feature light makes porcelain gleam

Detail of installed LED strip lights